… (books like) David Garrison’s Church Planting Movements (2004) seem to capture the essential elements of transcultural movements.
… Roughly a century ago people like Henry Venn, Rufus Anderson, and John Nevius became the modern apostles of “indigenous principles” of church planting, perhaps better known today as the “three-self principles.” … this idea that new churches ought to be established that are self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating has not received good press in recent years.
While the following list is by no means exhaustive, key principles like the following are ones that no church planter should miss:
1. All ethno-linguistic peoples need churches that feel like home to them.
2. The same is true for people divided by all kinds of barriers, at least to the extent that a missiological breakthrough among them requires it.
3. There should be a linkage as much as possible of all local congregations in a national fellowship. People need connectedness to God’s people beyond their local context.
4. There should be an inculcation of an outreach mentality from the very beginning. “As the Father has sent me … I send you” (John 20:21).
5. There should be indigenous leadership of each local church from the beginning. It is after all Jesus’ church first, and the local people’s church second. In most local congregations that should consist of a plurality of leaders.
6. House churches or other easily reproducible meeting places should be the rule rather than the exception.
7. There should be a high commitment to financial self-sustainability and to the reproducibility of congregations. Foreign funds should not be used in dependency creating ways, but should be used creatively for Kingdom extension, mercy, and to strengthen the churches.
8. There should be cooperation with other missions and churches to the extent that the above principles are not compromised. That which can be done better together should not be done alone.
As intimated above, these principles are neither new nor radical, though they were largely both in the early Church. After two millennia of practice, however, they are time tested…