Two years ago EFM adopted a new Mission Statement that gives us two stated primary goals: To plant churches and to encourage and help our national believers carry out the Great Commission in their own cultures and beyond.
Fulfilling the first of those goals means that we need to move into new areas, preferably areas that are untouched or little-touched by the gospel, and plant congregations of new believers. By extension this also means discipling those believers into true followers of Christ and it means working from the beginning to make each local church and developing national church organization a sustainable, locally supported and governed entity. We do not want to create dependency.
Fulfilling the second goal means that we must study to know what the true needs of each church are and help them supply those needs or develop those ministries that will help achieve the goals named above. For example, we should not impose upon them things like medical clinics, Christian day schools, bookstores, and radio stations. If and when they see the need for certain ministries, we should help them develop those.
With regard to existing fields, we must work to eliminate dependency where it now exists and learn how to maintain fraternal, helpful relationships with our national brethren even as we help them step out on their own.
A major key to achieving such goals is having new missionaries who have been trained to see the dangers of dependency and to work with the nationals to achieve meaningful, sustainable goals.
In urban ministry, we plan to see churches and ministries of compassion planted in the inner city of the 50 major cities of the United States.
We will recruit and develop servant leaders at all levels who will move into the city for the sake of the gospel, who will develop Christian community, who will live, work and worship in these dark places.
As we grow to new cities, we must stay focused on our “relationship first” approach that has made us who we are. We develop the hearts of our people to stand up against the darkness with the power of prayer, the ministry of the word, and the means of grace. We must be patient and work for the long haul, realizing that development in the city is a multi-generational endeavor.
We must work to develop empowered local leaders who will carry on the work.
Overall, the reason/purpose for all of this is to introduce people to Jesus, the only one who can save them from their sins and change their lives. Changed lives are one of the biggest indicators of accomplishing this.
We will recruit, develop, and support new, younger missionaries who understand our philosophy of missions and who are passionate about building redemptive relationships. We must become more intentional about developing leaders. Developing leaders who will become students of “their place,” who will begin to make a difference in these urban places. We will also do a better job of mentoring the “leader makers” through hiring and training quality leadership at high levels.
We will ramp up our recruitment of urban leaders and develop systems for training these leaders through the Nehemiah Discipleship Program and Keystone Urban Institute. We will use our access to the Bible College students from several different campuses, painting a clear, convincing picture of how they can gain real-world, cross-cultural experience with us.
Make Disciples in new places
We must expand to three more regions internationally and 20 cities in the United States within the next ten years. We need to develop the ministry resources that will allow us to work effectively in both places.
EFM has had success in planting ministries in 9-10 countries. With the experience of VICM joining our team, we have also successfully planted an urban, multi-ethnic congregation. Through our experiences, we have learned a lot that can help others who want to reach out to new places.
While we have a ministry model that has worked in the past, we recognize that we must continue to adapt our approach to a changing world environment. In urban ministry, we are aware that every city is different and will need to be approached differently. We plan to make disciples who will plant and sustain the church locally.
We believe that communities of faith can grow from the seeds that we plant. Local leaders will be developed and the churches we plant will become self-supporting.
While we currently lack financial resources to be able to bring more church planting missionaries on staff and develop them, we recognize that this is the direction in which God is leading us. If we don’t continue to develop the resources to move forward, there are hundreds of thousands of people in dark places who will go untouched by the impact that a local, involved church could make in their lives. Without the Body of Christ present in these dark places, many will die without hope – both physically and eternally.