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  • Writer's pictureMark Bocanegra

Unashamedly Presbyterian: MTW and church-centric, church planting.

Hello from sunny California! We arrived in Pasadena, CA on September 10. We have closed our first chapter/term and now transitioning into our second phase of ministry. For the next 1 - 1.5 years, the Bocanegra family will be traveling to support raise for Kaihin Makuhari Grace Church. Mark has been called as their pastor, who will be particularly focused on the planting of their second congregation. Please see prayer request #2 for our full schedule for Fall-Winter 2019.

Mark has to support raise an additional $6,000 of monthly support in order to 1) to transition from being a short-term to long-term missionary, 2) to sustain the rise in rent and ministry costs as we church plant in a more expensive area, and 3) to support national workers who will help with the ministry. Church planting in unreached people groups is extremely expensive, labor-intensive, and risky work; however, we believe it is the very essence of the Great Commission. Furthermore, as a Presbyterian committed to the Church, we believe also that missions should not be driven by "para-church" organizations, but by the church. As a MTW missionary, I believe the MTW policy communicates the importance and reasons for church-centric church planting to be the focus of missions.

2.1.2 Priority and Urgency of Planting and Strengthening Churches The church is both the agent and the goal of missions. From the beginning, Jesus Christ did not envisage individual followers and witnesses creating additional followers, but a church united by Him both to Himself and to one another, growing by enlarging and multiplying congregations. Church growth must not be defined too narrowly. Biblical church growth includes at least three dimensions. The church grows by evangelistic proclamation with the goal of multiplying Christian congregations. The great concern of the early church was to tell the good news about Jesus and the resurrection, but proclamation was not an end in itself. The biblical pattern is to form new converts into local congregations. The church grows by the building up of the saints. The church grows by the exercising of spiritual gifts. The important discussions of spiritual gifts in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4 all place gifts in the context of the community life of the church. Therefore, total church growth involves numerical, spiritual and functional or organic growth. Missions is necessarily concerned with the establishing of the whole ministry of the church. This includes instruction and service as well as evangelization—church strengthening as well as church planting. Neither evangelization nor “perfecting” can become ends in themselves. They must continually lead to each other. If the chief work of missions is “the planting, propagating and perfecting of congregations,” church planting and strengthening must remain the priority of our mission to the world. 2.1.3 Priority and Urgency of Planting and Strengthening Presbyterian Churches It is no accident that we are Presbyterians. We acknowledge that we have much in common with evangelicals in every church but we remember that we also have certain important distinctives. We hold our Reformed doctrine and Presbyterian polity as valued treasures because we believe they are biblical. We hold them gratefully and humbly, recognizing that they are gifts of God and not of our “works.” At our first General Assembly we affirmed this basic conviction in our “Address to All the Churches.” “As a Church, we consciously seek to return to the historic Presbyterian view of Church government. We reaffirm in the words of that earlier ‘Address to All Churches’ the following: The only thing that will be at all peculiar to us is the manner in which we shall attempt to discharge our duty. In almost every department of labor, except the pastoral care of congregations, it has been usual for the Church to resort to societies more or less closely connected with itself, and yet logically and really distinct. It is our purpose to rely upon the regular organs of our government and executive agencies directly and immediately responsible to them. We wish to make the Church, not merely a superintendent, but an agent. We wish to develop the idea that the congregation of believers, as visibly organized is the very society or corporation that is divinely called to do the work of the Lord. We shall, therefore, endeavor to do what has never been adequately done—bring out the energies of our Presbyterian system of government. From the session to the Assembly, we shall strive to enlist all our courts, as courts, in every department of Christian effort. We are not ashamed to confess that we are intensely Presbyterian. We embrace all other denominations in the arms of Christian fellowship and love, and our own scheme of government we humbly believe to be according to the pattern shown on the Mount, and, by God’s grace, we propose to put its efficiency or efficacy to the test. Therefore, the priority and urgency of planting and nurturing churches overseas and our God-given Reformed doctrine and Presbyterian polity mean that our mission to the world must, through our own efforts and in cooperation with compatible Reformed churches, be engaged primarily in the work of planting and strengthening true Presbyterian churches. In the event that PCA missionaries are working with independent agencies in a church-planting capacity, they must be at liberty to establish churches that are thoroughly Presbyterian and Reformed in both theology and government.

--Quoted from MTW Missions Policy Manual, Chapter 2 "Reformed Theology and the Practice of Missions"

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