I am not sure where the concept of a C-3 mission church came from. I am told by a fairly reliable source that the three C’s is the first letter to the three words, Cross-Cultural-Challenge. I have also been told (but cannot be certain) that it is the brainchild of some missiologists at Fuller Theological Seminary. Evidently some missions-minded Roman Catholic scholars are advocating for something similar in their mission efforts. An explanation (and application) of the C-3 vision and agenda for Russian Calvary Chapel churches was posted on the Internet and reads as follows:
“Mission churches need to go through three stages if they are going to truly succeed. These stages are called C-1, C-2, and C-3.
C-1 is the first phase: a church planted by foreigners. The format and structure are drawn from the “missionary perspective”: for instance, the language is English, and a translator translates the worship and teaching so that the non-English speakers can understand what is going on. This is how the Calvary Chapels in Russia began: with American pastors teaching in English and leading their flocks with the assistance of translators.
C-2 is the second phase of development. The format stays the same, but the worship and teaching are done in the native language. Most of the Calvary churches in Russia are in this stage: the style of service is very similar to that of a Calvary Chapel located in California. Even many of the worship songs are the same – just translated into Russian.
C-3 is, in my opinion, the ultimate ideal. This is when the mission church becomes fully a native church. Both style and substance grow seamlessly out of the local language and culture. The leadership, ministry, and financial needs of the church are fully the responsibility of its members. It is at this point that the church begins to have its greatest impact.
The great draw of the C-1 & C-2 churches is that they are “foreign” and “novel.” But over time, the foreign inevitably becomes less interesting and the novelty wears off. Additionally, most churches in those phases are still financially dependant upon foreign sponsorship, which hampers the ability to mature into a fully functioning national church. (Such support, no matter how well-meaning or altruistic, creates boundaries and obligations – or the assumption of them – that can hinder and hobble the ministry, especially when the sponsor is a half a world and a whole culture away.)
…Effective missions is about working yourself out of a job –producing C-3 churches…Our hope is…to equip, encourage and enable Russia’s pastors to lead their churches independently –without foreign sponsorship – becoming more and more dependant upon Christ alone as the true and only Head of their church.”
Speaking to this very issue, the well-known director of Gospel for Asia (K.P. Yohanan) seems to be saying that the C-3 vision for missions misses the point. I agree. K.P. says that:
There is a misconception that foreign funding weakens the church. We have found that that it is not outside money that weakens the church but outside control. Funds from the West liberate the evangelists and free them to follow the call of God.
I cannot speak for other mission churches, but I believe that the C-3 vision for the Calvary Chapel churches in Russia is misguided in part because it is misinformed. It may be well-intended, but the net-effect will not help but hinder the work God is doing in Russia through the Calvary Chapel churches. In fact, a C-3 church cannot (by definition) be a Calvary Chapel at all. More importantly, it does not serve the interest of the mission church, though it may save some money for a sponsoring church. As I see it, the message and mission of those folks working to implement a C-3 vision for the Calvary Chapel churches in Russia is really “A culturalization of missions” in Russia. A culturalization of missions occurs when the emphasis is placed on the cultural differences between a supporting church and a mission church.
Anyone in a country not their own should be sensitive and respectful of the cultural issues that are important to that country. That is just common sense. But there are some things that transcend culture. A good guide is: “Never culturalize the absolutes or absolutize the culturals”. To promote a C-3 agenda in a country that is economically “challenged” when compared to the sponsoring country, is to absolutize the culturals. God used Peter and Paul to reach the Gentiles. While they did not try and make Jews out of Gentiles, they did not accent the differences out of Christ but the commonalities in Christ. Peter’s vision that directed him to Cornelius, speaks volumes to this same issue (Acts 10:9-48).
It is of course, better for a church to be self-sufficient or financially independent than not. And all Calvary Chapel churches must (by definition), be self-governed. But a church need not surrender self-government just because it accepts financial assistance from foreign individuals and churches. A mission pastor should neither feel ashamed nor guilty for soliciting or accepting financial help from those God has called to help them. The day may came (I hope it is sooner than later) when no Calvary Chapel in Russia needs financial help. In the mean time, remember what K. P. said:
“…It is not outside money that weakens the church but outside control. Funds from the West liberate the evangelists and free them to follow the call of God.”
Substitute the word pastor for the word evangelist and I think this may be wise counsel for the pastors of a still very small and fledgling church in the Calvary Chapel movement in Russia. Of course, if a church does not need or want financial assistance from abroad, they should not seek it. Perhaps they should prayerfully consider helping other churches by asking their no longer needed supporter or supporters to prayerfully consider redirecting some of that support to those who would like and do need financial help at this time in their history. I also agree that supporting churches should be working themselves out of a job. My concern is that some supporting churches are being tempted (by the C-3 vision) to quit before their job is done.
Who will take Chuck's place?
Written by: George Bryson, July 03, 2007
Many of the pastors in Russia have been asking; who will take Chuck's place (in the Calvary Chapel movement) when he retires or goes to be with the Lord? Many pastors in America are asking the same question.