LFTF: Episode 5

Published 5th May 2016 - Todd Gerst | Series: Lessons From the Field

In episode 5 of Lessons from the Field we talk with Todd Gerst, a church planter and Bible translator who worked among the Maleu people in Papua New Guinea (See the video His Gift to Gie). He and his wife Karen spent 15 years working with the Maleu people seeing several churches established, elders appointed, and the fruit of new birth apparent in countless lives. Todd is now Lead Pastor at Warsaw Community Church in Indiana, USA. We asked the question:

What are some of your observations of the approach to missions that is current in the U.S. church?

I think the biggest thing is an awakening. There seems to be a real spirit and a real sense that the task isn’t finished, that there is a big world out there, and I think as the world has gone smaller or more global that there’s more of an understanding. You almost see an awakening to the fact that there is a need out there. I think the real challenge, though, is how to meet that need. What is the approach to take? That’s where it really gets tough, particularly for the American church, the church in the U.S., as they think about what it would require. They tend to look more at programs. They tend to look more at physical resources. They think about providing things for people that would perhaps make life easier, but they really have struggled, and we do struggle with making a connection with the spiritual change and the life change. They struggle with the desire or the willingness to go and to give their life, recognizing that that is what Christ calls us to. For an effective ministry to happen outside of your own culture and your own language, the giving of your life to see that accomplished, that is yet really to take root. There’s also the challenge of equipping. The church historically has not been focused on sending folks out beyond their own communities. You think about some of the real specific challenges of, say, language learning, living in a foreign culture and country. Also, then you think about the role of the church itself. They have historically, I think, handed that job off to sending agencies, and I believe that’s changing. More and more churches are recognizing that God has called the church to be the sending agency. He’s the one that put the church in the position to reach the world. He’s the one that sends the church into the world. As that is growing, it presents a lot of new challenges, and I’m praying the church is up for it.

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More from this series

LFTF: Episode 38

How do I combat laziness?

LFTF: Episode 37

What are the areas that most often cause people to leave the field?

LFTF: Episode 36

What are some of the things you like about being a ‘missionary kid’, and what are the challenges?

LFTF: Episode 35

Disagreements and disputes among missionary teams are a big reason why many leave the field. Do you have any advise for making sure relationships within a team remain healthy?

LFTF: Episode 34

As a missionary, do you have any concern about your child’s wellness or your child’s faith?

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