Sometimes our training methods get in the way of spontaneous expansion. That is, we depend too much on education and ultimately don’t release people for ministry. We tend to think that a person must be 100% equipped, but often we equip the zeal and life out of them! Roland Allen critiques the education of his day:
Christ trained His leaders in two or three years; these men have been training leaders for more than two or three generations. Christ trained his leaders by taking them with Him as he went about teaching and healing, doing the work which they, as missionaries, would do; we train in institutions. He trained a very few with whom He was in the closest personal relation; we train many who simply pass through our schools with a view to an examination and an appointment (Roland Allen, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: and the Causes which Hinder It. London: World Dominion Press, 1956. p. 27).
Only the Spirit of God can truly guide His church. And we need to be totally committed to the Spirit of God leading and guiding us. Only He can bear the fruit necessary for sustained growth. As a missionary for eleven years in Ecuador I can testify that often foreign missionaries donâ€™t want to leave the field because they canâ€™t fully trust the nationals to do the work. I have to admit that Ecuador didnâ€™t need me! I needed Ecuador. I needed Ecuador to teach me about these wonderful movements. Allen writes:
They [the missionaries] imagine fondly that they are quite ready to retire when the leaders whom they train are ready to take their place and that the moment when the native leaders are ready will be so obvious that they will all agree that it has come, and that then there be no difficulty in handing over authority. The moment is never clear. Those who are seeking to gain authority never agree to wait until those who hold it think that they are sufficiently prepared. The moment arrives only when those who are seeking to gain authority are strong enough to drive those who hold it into concession, by threats of revolt (p. 33).
Would to God that we would give over our ministry to others at the right time so that God’s spontaneous movement might continue. Let’s only hold on to prayer and the Spirit of God–not to our OWN ministries.