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A Minefield for Methodologies

By Phil*, RMM worker in Malaga Spain

I was struck recently by the comment of a Spanish evangelical pastor. He was recounting to another Spanish church worker how he had thought that the expository approach to preaching and teaching the Bible would be the key to rapid church growth in Spain. He had seen the method used successfully in London, England to start and grow a church there. It was new to him and falling in love with the approach, he was convinced it was the key to success in his home country of Spain. Five years of church planting efforts later, while still highly appreciative of and committed to expository Bible teaching, he was much more sober about it being the methodology that held the key to successful church growth in Spain.

"Spain seems
to be a minefield for methodologies. Every successful method imported from abroad founders on the rocks of unbelief in Spain."
Spain seems to be a minefield for methodologies. Every successful method imported from abroad founders on the rocks of unbelief in Spain. Following the networks of relationships we are told is the key to the growth of the gospel, and yet we find many Spanish believers who are alone in their commitment to the gospel in their network of family and friends despite persistent efforts to share their faith with them.

People do come to faith but there’s no reliable script for how that comes about. We come across believers who have come to faith because of their parents or a relative but then also young people who are not believers despite their parents being believers. Some people have come to faith in Christ due to difficult circumstances in their lives–the loss of a job and then a house, for example, in the recent economic crisis.

We were recently surprised by a novel approach to outreach in the local church fellowship we attend. The church began a children’s choir and invited children from the community to participate in it. It seems Spanish parents like their children to learn how to sing well and participate in a choir. On the Sunday before Christmas the children's choir gave a concert at the church. Half the children in the choir were from the church and half from the community. The church was packed with the families of the children from the community. Everybody enjoyed the Christmas songs sung by the choir and a Christmas meal afterwards and everybody heard the gospel explained.

Amazingly, the Sunday after Christmas, the children's choir sang in a public concert in the Museum of Music in Málaga city. It was a great opportunity for witness to the many people visiting the museum that day. It could be that God's use of local, serendipitous methods is to remind us that it is the message and the Spirit's work that really counts.

*Last names omitted for security