We should remember that it is God (not boards or faculties) who raises up leaders.
The desire to plant churches using lay people is not new, but it is finding a renewed emphasis. This is partly because we’ve found that when we primarily go the Bible college/seminary route to find all our church planters, we don't naturally develop bi-vocational paths to plant churches, which are also necessary for us to reach the world for Christ.
Roland Allen, a famous Anglican missiologist in the last century, wrote some books on the issues associated with certain models of missiology. The titles give away the point of his books.
His first book was called Missionary Methods, St. Paul's or Ours. It’s subtle, I know.
He dealt with the idea that missionaries in China, for instance, would send future missionaries off to England to attend college and seminary, then years later they would come back as pastors. By then, they were more English than they were Chinese, so they would say that they were useless for the work.
He also wrote a book called The Case for Voluntary Clergy. Again, subtle.
One more book to consider, from the title alone, is the The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes that Hinder it, which suggested that educational attainment and missiological engagement were, at times, inversely proportional.
So, the titles make the case: We need a path to raise up church planters from outside of educational insituations.
Now, to save some time in the twitter conversation that always follows these articles:
- I don’t like using the term laity, as it reinfornces the laity/clergy divide, but I used it here to make this article clear.
- I can’t tell you what everyone considers laity compared to clergy. The case I am making here is for church planters and pastors that are not formally trained (but, often receive informal training on the job).