We do it all the time. We meet someone new and within a short time, we ask, “What do you do?”
Some of us enjoy using that question to launch a conversation about what we value most. But eventually we get around to our job. Whether we like it or not, we tend to link our vocation and our identity.
This tendency is presents a problem for disciple-makers and church planters who go into villages, towns, or neighborhoods that are least-reached and may be quite resistant to the Gospel.
How do they explain what they do to their new neighbors and people they meet and interact with?
They need an identity that makes sense to those who do not yet know Jesus. A small business can provide that, and Global Disciples provides training to churches to equip their near-culture workers to start a small business.
The economic advantage of a small business is obvious for a church-planter. He or she can generate some income, especially when their sending cluster of churches is poor. But a vocational identity that’s understood by the community—a tailor, a shopkeeper, a farmer—is significant in building trusting relationships.
A Guiding Principle of Global Disciples states: “We value the Apostle Paul’s approach to mission as fitting for our time.” Paul made tents as he travelled to preach and plant churches.
As churches in slower economies around the world send out more and more near-culture workers, this principle frees them from the restraint of finances, so they can reach least-reached people.
Interestingly, these ‘co-vocational’ church planters tend to do better at multiplying new fellowships of believers because it’s easier to connect with people, and the model doesn’t demand as much financially as planting a church with a full-time church planter.
Like so many things revealed in Scripture, it’s hard to improve on what the Apostle Paul modeled. He was planting dynamic new expressions of the Body of Christ in places where people had not yet heard the Good News of Jesus. And so are we—as partners with you and with many churches near those who are least-reached.