Because of the way Doulos Partners operates, we’re often on the receiving end of a lot of questions about why we do things the way we do them – or, more accurately, how we do things. We’re not missionaries, and we’re not church planters ourselves; we work with existing organizations to fund pastors in their own country who are ready to plant a church.
We do not deny the effective use of Western missionaries that are following God’s call into service. You can walk in our homes and offices to find books on our shelves detailing the God ordained work of lives such as Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, Hudson Taylor, and Amy Carmichael. However, 9 years ago, the Lord called us to start building on the foundation of their work over the last 200 years and gave us a vision to invest in indigenous pastors to expand Kingdom work.
So why do we choose to work with native believers instead of sending people from the United States to plant these churches? Here are a few reasons.
No Language Barrier
By supporting church planters in their native countries, we are able to completely bypass the language obstacle. Missionaries who are called overseas to non-English speaking countries must spend a significant amount of time learning the language, because to present the Gospel accurately, they need a high degree of communication skill.
Even if a foreign language is learned, there are even more layers to the language barrier: local dialect, slang terms, regional accents, and more. Developing true fluency in a specific dialect of a specific language could take years or decades. But by working with native pastors, none of this is a factor – the pastor can preach fluently right from the start.
Aside from the language issue, foreign cultures can be incredibly nuanced and difficult to learn. If an American comes in to a remote village in India, it will be quite a process for him or her to learn all the societal tendencies, the do’s and don’ts, and the social hierarchy of that place.
A native pastor has grown up in that society, and so he understands it innately. There is no risk of accidentally offending someone just because he didn’t know any better; he understands the norms and he’s well versed in how the culture works. This sidesteps any negative feelings the people may have about listening to a pastor who doesn’t seem to understand who they are or how their lives are structured.
People implicitly trust other people who are like them. We know that’s a really broad statement to make, but pastors really do earn the trust of the community so much more easily when they come from that community.
If we bring a pastor in from the outside, he’s got to spend a lot of time earning the trust of the people, which could take years or decades — or it could never happen at all. By working with someone the people already know, or who at least someone who comes from the same country as them, there’s a level of trust there automatically that an outsider could never have.
Interested in Being Involved with Our Church Planting Work?
There are many ways to support Doulos Partners, from donating to actually going on one of our trips. Take a moment to read more about how you can be a part of the work we’re doing, and let us know if you have any questions!