Chapter 10
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Carefully confirm your barangay

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Romel was very eager to plant a church. One of the members of his church in Binangonan had a burden for two unsaved relatives in Angono, the next town. These relatives lived very near each other. Romel met with them. They both said they would be willing to have a Bible study in their homes. Romel checked the DAWN research and found that their barangay had no church. Knowing this, he began to plant a church.

This decision was made too quickly. Romel knew the steps to take to carefully confirm the target barangay. But he neglected to do them. He didn't know that others had tried to plant a church in that barangay and failed. He didn't bother meeting the other local pastors or leaders of the Ministerial Fellowship. They could have given him some good advice.

Romel struggled trying to open more OBSes (Outreach Bible Studies). The original two families turned out not to be very responsive. He wasn't able to gain additional contacts through them, or through other methods. After struggling for eight months, he finally gave up. Hindi nagpatuloy ang gawain. Sayang!

In Step 3, you made a tentative selection of your target barangay. This was based mostly on things you already knew, or easily found through the DAWN research. Now, it's crucial to carefully confirm your barangay.

Hasty confirmation of a target barangay may produce deep regrets. As with Romel, the project may die off after a few months, or even after years of little fruit!

But there's a hidden bonus! The actions in this step go far beyond confirming the target barangay. They will also give you a good start in laying a solid foundation in the community, if you continue there. Here's what to do to try and avoid what Romel experienced:

• Meet the barangay captain or homeowners' president

• Meet the local pastors, if there are any

• Talk to the leaders of the Ministerial Fellowship

• Make an ocular inspection

• Make sure the members of the church planting team match up with the people in the target barangay

• Determine the responsiveness to the Gospel

• Locate the harvest force

• Listen to the Lord's voice

• Reach an agreement among the church planting team, including the leaders of the mother church

Meet the barangay captain or homeowners' president

Sooner or later, you will probably be asking the barangay captain or president of the Homeowners Association for permission to do something. Medyo nakakahiya if you have been in the barangay for several months, and only meet these officials when you need their permission. It's much better to meet them right at the start, before you get active in the barangay.

You don't need the permission of these officials to plant a church. We live in a free country. But paying a courtesy call to introduce yourself and request their blessing is usually appreciated. It may also help put you in a good position for help you may need in the future.

Be clear about your plans. You can do this in a way that will probably be acceptable to them. You could say something like:

"Magandang hapon po, Kapitan. I'm Carlos Church Planter from God Is Good Fellowship in Taytay, Rizal. We're concerned for the residents here in Bgy. San Isidro, as we know you are. We'd like to volunteer to work together with you to see God's blessing come to this barangay. We'd like to serve this community, with you.

"One thing we'd like to do is bring the Word of God to those who are interested. We've been praying for everyone living here. We'd also like to pray for them in their homes. It would be a big encouragement to us to know that we have your blessing."

Mahirap tanggihan. Most officials appreciate this.

You can also ask their advice. They are a great resource since they know the community very well.

Who are other possible community leaders who are influential and respected? It would be good to meet them and gain their favor and cooperation.

Carefully observe the response of these officials. Pray that the Lord would use this to guide you in your decision about confirming this target barangay.

Meet the other local pastors, if there are any

The pastors of any churches that may be near your tentative target barangay will probably be able to give you very helpful advice. They can probably tell you if there have been evangelistic activities there, what the results were, and what things were learned. If others have tried to plant a church there and failed, they will probably know about that, too. They can probably tell you whom to watch out for and who can help you. Come as a learner. The input they give will play a big part in whether or not you confirm the barangay as your target.

Also, pastoral ethics guide us to meet the pastors nearby before opening a new work.

Be sure to build a good relationship with the other pastors in the area, right from the start. Yes, you could probably plant your church without doing this. But to make a big impact on your area, there's got to be strong unity among the pastors. You can help toward this!

We have observed that in areas where churches are growing rapidly and making a big impact, there is always strong unity among the pastors. In areas where churches are hardly growing, there is always division or indifference among the pastors. Start off right. Build good relationships. You will benefit. So will everyone else. And God will be pleased with your effort to pursue unity in the Body of Christ.

When you come to start a new work in the area, the existing pastors should welcome you in wholeheartedly. You're not a competitor. You are coming to help them—to help them reach their town. All help should be welcomed, 'di ba?

Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen like that. Insecure pastors may feel threatened. Those who don't really care about reaching their whole town may prefer that you didn't come. Just do your best to try to win them over.

& If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom. 12:18)

Talk to the leaders of the Ministerial Fellowship

The leaders of the nearest Ministerial Fellowship will probably be a very valuable resource for you. They may even inform you that there is already a church in your target barangay, when you thought there was none. They may know that someone else has already targeted your barangay. Talking to these leaders will surely help you in your decision about confirming the tentative target.

If you do confirm this target, be sure to join the Ministerial Fellowship. It's a great way to strengthen relationships with the local pastors. One of the biggest keys to evangelizing our nation is unity among the pastors. Ministerial Fellowships are a great help.

Make an ocular inspection

Walk through every street of the barangay. Observe as much as you can. Later, write down insights, ideas or impressions from the Lord.

Make sure the members of the church planting team match up with the people in the target barangay

Study the people in your target barangay. You can probably find helpful information about the community at the munisipyo. But there's no substitute for getting out and talking to people. Here are some things you will want to learn:

• Likes and dislikes of residents

• Habits

• Provincial backgrounds

• Family size

• Educational backgrounds

• Financial status

• Occupations

• Fears

• Needs

Knowing these things will help you determine if your team will be able to relate well with the people in the community. If they can't, you'd better pick another barangay. Also, after you gain a better understanding of the community, you can develop your strategy on how you will reach these particular people. This will especially affect the methods you choose to make contacts (Step 5).

One way to gain this understanding is through informal pag-iistambay. Makipagkwentuhan sa sari-sari stores, etc. Makinig nang mabuti. Mag-obserba.

Another way is through a more systematic community survey. You can photocopy the form on p. 161 or make your own.

Community Survey Form

I am ___________________ from _____________________ (church). (Show your ID and permission.) We would like to be a source of God's blessing to this community. We are thinking about possibly starting a ministry here. Before we begin we want to understand the community so we can give the right kind of help. We are doing a community survey. This is not a business. May we ask you some questions so that we could better understand this community?

1. What is your favorite TV show?

2. What are the favorite shows of others who live here?

3. What radio station do you listen to?

4. What newspaper do you read?

5. What province are you from?

6. How many children do you have?

7. Where do your children attend school?

8. What are some of the jobs of those who live here?

9. Why do you think some people are not actively involved in their religion?

10. How often do you participate in a meeting with those of your religion?

__ A few times a year

__ Once a month

__ Once a week

__ More than once a week

11. What are the fears of the people who live here?

12. Apart from money, what is the biggest need of the people in this community?

q Return to this house. Hot contact

q Possible contact.

Person to look for: _________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________________

Interviewer: _______________________________________________

Do not return. Not a good contact.

Before conducting surveys, fold the survey forms on the dotted line. It will be better if those being interviewed don't see this portion.

You may prefer to make your own survey form. If you do, be sure to only ask for information that you really need to know.

Remember, the purpose of this survey is to gain a better understanding of the target community. It's not to evangelize. Many church planters use a community survey to make contacts. You could also do that at another time. That's not the purpose of this survey. If no evangelistic contacts are found as a result of this survey, that's okay. Our main purpose, at this point, is just to get to know the community.

As you are doing this survey to get to know the community, you may also make some hot contacts. You might as well write their names down. You can come back to them another time. That's the purpose of the bottom part of the survey form.

It's best to survey about 50 homes to gain a good understanding of the community. If you mobilize your team to help, you can do this in one day.

It's normally important to get permission from the community officials before doing a survey. You may need to display your permission. Wearing an ID may also be helpful. The biggest help of all is to have someone with you who lives in the community.

When finished, compile the results. Try to describe a person who is most typical of the group in the barangay you are targeting. You can use the form on p. 163.

These ideas were adapted from The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren, available in the Philippines. For some great advice on how to get to know your target community, see pp. 153-203.

When compiling the results of your community survey, you may find that not everyone in the community is similar. Maybe there are two (or more) very different types of people living there. If so, pick just one of these groups. Specifically target them and try to reach them. This should produce more fruit than having a general strategy to reach anyone and everyone. Describe this group in your "Description of a Typical Resident."

Description of a typical resident of

___________________ (target barangay)

1. They have ____ children.

2. Their kids are studying at

____________________.

3. The job of Mr. ________________ is

______________________.

4. The job of Mrs. _______________ is _____________________.

5. They're originally from _______________________ (province).

6. The newspaper they read is ____________________________.

7. The radio station they listen to most is __________________.

8. Their favorite TV show is _______________________________.

9. They think that many people don't participate in their religion

because _____________________________________________.

10. Some of the things they fear are ________________________.

11. Some of their needs, besides money are __________________

____________________________.

Ideas for Ministry:

•

•

•

•

•

For example, if your target barangay has both rich and poor people, it will probably be better to target one or the other. Usually, the two do not mix. There are exceptions. But this is usually true.

If you reach mainly the rich, and have some who are poor that attend, they will probably feel out of place and will not continue. If you reach mainly the poor and have some who are rich that attend, they probably won't be attracted to return either.

"Men like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or class barriers. This principle states an undeniable fact."1

"Kuya Dave, could you join us in our church planting team?" asked Elena.

"Why?" I responded.

"Because our target barangay is mostly upper class. We thought you might be more effective there," Elena explained. "Our team can't seem to relate very well to them."

Elena's intuitions were right on track. Getting team members who could relate to the target community is one possible solution. The other is for the team to pick a new target barangay—one to which their team members could more easily relate.

Along this line, do you have a member of your church planting team who is part of a cultural minority? If so, you may want to consider challenging him to go back to reach his own people. He will have a big headstart and may be more effective than an outsider.

Determine the responsiveness to the Gospel

You're much more likely to plant a church if the residents are responsive to the Gospel. We've already seen that people are more likely to be responsive if

• The population is growing

• Cults are growing

• Other churches are growing

Now, let's take a closer look at the responsiveness in the tentative target barangay. As you get to know the community, here are some more things to look for that could indicate that people will be responsive to the Gospel.

1. People are interested in studying the Bible

This is really easy to find out. Just ask! You can ask people informally as you have opportunity. You can also ask house-to-house. You can use the very simple survey form below, or something similar.

If most of the people say "no," then the responsiveness isn't good. It will probably be hard to plant a church there. If most of the people say "yes," this might indicate responsiveness. The problem is, some people will say "yes," but they don't really mean "yes." The surveyors need to carefully observe nonverbal cues such as their facial expressions, and try to discern how responsive the people really are. Some will clearly be responsive. This isn't an exact science, but it might give us some good indications.

Another option is to add the two questions above to your community survey form.

2. People have relatives who are born again.

• "My uncle in California is born again."

• "My parents attend JIL."

• "My lolo in Tarlac has a Bible study in their home."

• "My husband in Saudi just became born again."

Comments like these are a great sign! People are usually much more responsive to the Gospel if they have relatives who are already born again.

3. There are those who were formerly (but no longer) involved in various cults

"I was a Mormon for a few years. Then I tried Iglesia. Then Dating Daan. Now I'm not anything," explained Mang Hector. People like these are searchers. They're probably open.

4. There is change occurring in peoples' lives in the community

People are generally more responsive to the Gospel when there is change occurring. When other changes occur, people become more open to also "change their religion."

If a large factory opens and provides new jobs, this may also bring responsiveness to the Gospel. When people change their residence this also provides an opportune time to share the Gospel. Newlyweds and those with first babies are usually thinking more about God at these times. A death in the family often softens hearts.

5. People are unhappy about their condition

Those with difficult conditions, like the poor, those facing oppression or tragedies are often more open to the Lord than those who think they "have it all."

& It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. (Mt. 19:24)

6. There is unity among the churches in the area

I don't claim to understand everything that goes on in the spiritual realm. But one thing has been very clear as we've ministered throughout the Philippines: Where many people are coming to Christ, there is usually unity. Where there are divisions Satan gains power. Spiritual blindness is strengthened. Response to the Gospel is greatly hindered.

If there is unity in the area of your target you've got a lot of power on your side. This is a big factor.

If some of these factors listed above are present, it's much more likely you will find a good response to the Gospel. God sometimes moves powerfully in barangays where all of these factors are absent. He works against what we expect and overcomes the darkness! But He normally works through the factors mentioned.

Locate the harvest force

The "harvest force" is anyone in the target barangay who can help plant the church. They may be believers or unbelievers. If you find that the harvest force is strong, this will be a big advantage. Here are some things you can look for:

1. Christians who are not yet part of a church

Often there are Christians who have moved into the area who haven't found a church yet. This is especially true where there aren't many churches. They can help.

Caution! They will probably want the new church to be like their former one. If they do not adopt your vision for the type of church you will plant you may be better off without them.

2. Those who received Christ in evangelistic crusades but were never followed-up

If you can locate these people, some will probably be a big help to you by opening OBSes for their family and neighbors.

3. Sympathizers who are supportive

By sympathizers we mean those who aren't yet Christians, but who are willing to help get the church planted.

Pastor Arnel Luad is planting a church in Floodway, Bgy. San Juan, Cainta, Rizal. The president of the Urban Poor Association asked Pastor Arnel, "These people are always arguing with each other. They need to learn to pray. I'll gather them. Could you teach them to pray?"

This is a non-Christian who is part of the harvest force.

Listen to the Lord's voice

We listened to the Lord's voice in selecting the tentative target barangay. Now that we have studied things more carefully, it would be good to listen again. It's possible we may have missed something in choosing our tentative target barangay. The Lord may use some of the new information gathered to speak to us more clearly now.

Each team member should seek the Lord individually. The team should also have a special time together of prayer and listening to God.

Reach an agreement among the church planting team, including the leaders of the mother church

Now that further investigation has been done, once again, what is the feeling among your leaders and your church planting team? Confirming your target barangay is one of the most important decisions you will make in the church planting project! Wisdom from the observations of co-workers and church leaders is a great asset.

& Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. (Prov. 20:18)

After you have confirmed your target barangay it's time to make contacts there! We'll see how to do this in the next chapter.

Action planning and discussion

1. Carefully plan what you will say when you visit the barangay captain. Discuss this with your team. Who will make this visit? Who will do the talking?

2. If you are considering working with a tribe, meet the chieftain as soon as possible.

3. Are there other churches near your tentative target barangay?

4. What could you do to make yourself more welcome among pastors of existing churches in the area of your target barangay?

5. Can you think of an area where churches are growing rapidly? How is the unity there?

Can you think of an area where the churches are hardly growing? How is the unity there?

6. Who is the leader of the Ministerial Fellowship nearest to your target barangay?

7. What will you do to get to know your target community?

8. Donald McGavran said, "Men like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or class barriers. This principle states an undeniable fact." Share some real life observations that either support or deny this statement.

9. Which factors are present in your target that encourage you to believe there will be a good response to the Gospel?

10. Who could be part of the harvest force in your barangay?

11. What has the Lord spoken to you and your team about your target barangay?

12. What helpful input have you received from your church leaders about confirming your target barangay?

13. Can you think of any examples where church planters hastily confirmed a target barangay? What difficulties did this bring?

The main thing to do now

q Meet the barangay captain or homeowners' president.

q Meet the local pastors, if there are any.

q Talk to the leaders of the Ministerial Fellowship.

q Make an ocular inspection.

q Conduct a community survey and make sure the members of the church planting team match up with the people in the target barangay.

q Determine the responsiveness to the Gospel.

q Locate the harvest force.

q Listen to the Lord's voice, individually and as a team.

q Reach an agreement regarding your target barangay among the church planting team, including the leaders of the mother church.

Check one of the following:

q We confirm Bgy. _____________ as our definite target barangay.

q We have decided that Bgy. ______________, our tentative target barangay, will not be our target. We will go back to Step 3 and select a new tentative target barangay.

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This page was last updated on 15 July 2013.