Saturday 15 May 2010

Fruitful Practices 2

See the first post here.

Don Allen et al., ‘Fruitful Practices: A Descriptive List’, International Journal of Frontier Missiology 26:3 (2009), 111-22.

‘Fruitful practice’, in this context, refers to ‘an activity that promotes the emergence, vitality, and multiplication of fellowships of Jesus followers in a Muslim context’ (111). The essay describes some of the results of a collaborative project on ‘fruitful practices’, seeking to gain insight and knowledge by sharing the best of experiences in the hope of increasing the fruitfulness of Christians working among Muslim peoples.

The authors are careful to say that it is ‘not a set of formulas to follow’, but ‘descriptions of significant principles’, presented as a starting point for what ‘contributes to fruitfulness based on the realities of experience and the foundation of Scripture’ (112).

They also point out that the list is evolving, holistic (the practices are mutually reinforcing), and they ask us to keep the ‘God factor’ in mind (the list is a summary of the many ways they see God working through teams).

There are eight basic categories, each containing a number of significant practices, as follows:

1. Relating to society

• Fruitful workers communicate respect by behaving in culturally appropriate ways.
• Fruitful workers address tangible needs in their community as an expression of the gospel.
• Fruitful workers relate to people in ways that respect gender roles in the local culture.
• Fruitful workers mobilize extensive, intentional, and focused prayer.
• Fruitful workers pursue language proficiency.
• Fruitful workers take advantage of pre-field and on-field research to shape their ministry.
• Fruitful workers build positive relationships with local leaders.

2. Relating to seekers

• Fruitful workers are bold in witness.
• Fruitful workers pray for God’s supernatural intervention as a sign that confirms the gospel.
• Fruitful workers pray for the needs of their friends in their presence.
• Fruitful workers share the gospel through existing social networks.
• Fruitful workers begin discipling seekers as part of the process of coming to faith.
• Fruitful workers encourage seekers to share what God is doing in their lives.

3. Relating to believers

• Fruitful workers are intentional in their discipling.
• Fruitful workers disciple in locally appropriate and reproducible ways.
• Fruitful workers disciple others in settings that fit the situation.
• Fruitful workers help seekers and believers find appropriate ways to identify themselves to their community as followers of Jesus, without imposing their own preferences.
• Fruitful workers help believers find ways to remain within their social network.
• Fruitful workers encourage believers to develop healthy relationships with other believers.
• Fruitful workers model following Jesus in intentional relationships with believers.
• Fruitful workers encourage believers to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in applying the Bible to their context.
• Fruitful workers encourage believers to share their faith.
• Fruitful workers prepare believers to explain why they believe.
• Fruitful workers model service to others and teach believers to serve others as well.
• Fruitful workers use various approaches in discipling.
• Fruitful workers encourage baptism by other believers with a Muslim background.
• Fruitful workers deal with sin in biblical ways that are culturally appropriate.

4. Relating to leaders

• Fruitful workers acknowledge emerging leaders early in the process of building a community of faith.
• Fruitful workers mentor leaders who in turn mentor others.
• Fruitful workers encourage leadership based on godly character.
• Fruitful workers are intentional about leadership development.
• Fruitful workers use the Bible as the primary source for leadership development.
• Fruitful workers prefer to develop leaders locally.

5. Relating to God

• Fruitful workers practice an intimate walk with God.
• Fruitful workers engage in regular, frequent prayer.
• Fruitful workers persevere through difficulty and suffering.

6. Communication methods

• Fruitful workers use culturally appropriate Bible passages to communicate God’s message.
• Fruitful workers communicate the gospel using the heart language, except in situations where it is not appropriate.
• Fruitful workers use a variety of approaches in sharing the gospel.
• Fruitful workers share the gospel using tools or methods that can be locally reproduced.
• Fruitful workers sow broadly.
• Fruitful workers use Bible study as a means of sharing the gospel.
• Fruitful workers share the gospel in ways that fit the learning preferences of their audience.
• Fruitful workers use the Quran as a bridge to sharing the biblical gospel.

7. Fruitful teams

• Fruitful teams are united by a common vision.
• Fruitful teams build one another up in love.
• Fruitful teams have effective leadership.
• Fruitful teams employ the various gifts of their members to serve the task.
• Fruitful teams adapt their methods based on reflective evaluation and new information.
• Fruitful teams have at least one person with high language proficiency in the heart language.
• Fruitful teams engage in corporate prayer and fasting.
• Fruitful teams expect every team member to be involved in sharing the gospel.
• Fruitful teams value their female members as essential partners in ministry, facilitating their active involvement,

8. Characteristics of fruitful faith communities

• Fruitful faith communities use the Bible as the central source for life, growth and mission.
• Fruitful faith communities worship using indigenous forms of expression.
• Fruitful faith communities practice baptism.
• Fruitful faith communities value networking together.
• Fruitful faith communities are committed to one another as extended family, practicing the biblical “one another” commands.
• Fruitful faith communities redeem traditional festivals and ceremonies.
• Fruitful faith communities share meals and practice hospitality.
• Fruitful faith communities share the Lord’s Supper in culturally appropriate ways.
• Fruitful faith communities seek to bless their wider community.
• Fruitful faith communities involve women in culturally appropriate forms of ministry.
• Fruitful faith communities involve their children in worship and ministry.
• Fruitful faith communities equip their members to share their faith in effective and
culturally appropriate ways.
• Fruitful faith communities govern themselves.
• Fruitful faith communities have local accountability structures for the use of funds.
• Fruitful faith communities generally meet in homes or other informal settings.

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