Malawi (MNN) — Believers in Malawi are taking the church back to its roots by modeling Paul and his original church-planting projects in the Book of Acts.
Paul would go from place to place and appoint elders. "You actually had what you and I would call ‘lay' pastors in the sense that those people were not trained [to become] pastors," says Sam Vinton of Grace Ministries International. "Whatever job they had, [a group of elders] would just remain in that and lead the church."
Grace Ministries is doing essentially the same thing as it sends other African missionaries into Malawi to begin what are being called ‘preaching points.' Missionaries begin ministries in different areas (usually through connections from friends and family) in which a group of believers meet, elders are appointed, and the Word of God is preached. They are encouraged to reach out to those around them because they are not considered churches until they start another church of their own.
"In many organizations, I'm sure they would be called ‘churches' because there are people there and they do meet regularly," explains Vinton. "But we've added a component of outreach for them to sense that they are an evangelistic outreach to other villages around them."
Regardless of semantics, there are now 80 "preaching points" in Malawi, which have had a large evangelical impact on local communities. A Tanzanian pastor has been heading up the work of these outreaches, helping other "lay" pastors begin to minister to the people around them. This typically includes the creation of Bible studies and evangelistic crusades. So far, the people of Malawi have been fairly receptive.
Vinton says that the last group crusade outreach resulted in over 300 people dedicating their lives to Christ. They were then encouraged to join small groups to begin learning more about the Gospel. So far, Vinton says, "I find this to be a very good model for us to use."
Vinton wants you to pray for wisdom for the missionaries who are working to appoint elders in different regions. Vinton also asks that you "pray for spiritual growth and good spiritual men to lead these organizations."