Church Planting – Interview Questions

November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

1.  Was there a specific strategy/philosophy/model that guided your church plant?  When did you plant the church(es)?

2.  If you were starting over today, what would you do the same?

3.  In an ideal world, what would you do differently?

4.  What was the most difficult thing you encountered during the process?

5.  What was the most unexpected thing you encountered during the process?

6.  What did you learn from a cross-cultural perspective?  (e.g. importance of knowing target audience)

7.  What help did you need that you wished you would have had?

8.  What role did your spouse/family play in the process?  Any suggestions for involving families, or helping them through the process?

9.  What did you learn from your church planting experience?

10. What was/is your favorite part about your church planting experience?

11. What resources or books were the most helpful to you in the process?

12. What words of advice would you give to prospective church planters?

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (13 of 13)

September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

Other Sources of Information:

  1. Are there any instances of redemptive analogies present among the people? These are potential illustrations of redemptive truths which help people to understand the meaning of spiritual truths or happenings which predispose people to be receptive to the Gospel. Read Don Richardson’s Eternity In Their Hearts for more on this concept.
  2. Have any doctoral or other secular studies been done on the people in which worldview issues are investigated and evaluated as to their effect upon change? Often these are later published in books. Many of these are done through Western university grants. Also look for local government studies particularly related to education, health and population, and agriculture. Worldview effects are generally related to why people are slow to change their beliefs and practices.
  3. Check the internet for government studies and people group prayer and adoption guides. Take these studies as informative but not necessarily accurate as government departments may have agenda and religious sources may not be substantiated.
  4. Network with others (both GCC and international government agencies) known to be working among the people group or language cognate or cultural/religious similarity.
  5. Local pastors and Christian religious leaders are generally not reliable sources of worldview information as they work intuitively among their own people. However, new or recent converts among a people group may be able to tell what attracted them or opened them up to the Gospel. Long-term and retired missionaries may have helpful information gleaned over many years of interacting with a people or their neighbors. Be prepared to question precisely rather than asking them to simply “tell all they know” as this may reflect more memories than usable information. Especially look for instances of difficult beginnings in a work or failure among a people. Ask what was learned when this happened.
  6. As a general rule it is easier to get information by asking people what they do than to ask why they do it. Ask questions like: When there is no rain for your crops what do you do? When your children get sick what do you do? When someone dies what do you do? Look for trends by asking many people and look for common threads. Also look for practices that are dying out or that are no longer carried out. See if you can find out why as this may point to changing worldview.

One last thought:

You may already know a considerable amount of worldview information. One way is to use this inventory and see how many questions you can answer from you existing knowledge and experience. Another way is to put together a buzz group of people who know about or have worked among a people group; begin listing characteristics of the target people by categories. Record the issues and characteristics and then try to assess some priority ranking in the list. Especially zero in on those issues and characteristics related to spiritual change and openness.

Other Sources of Information:

  1. Are there any instances of redemptive analogies present among the people? These are potential illustrations of redemptive truths which help people to understand the meaning of spiritual truths or happenings which predispose people to be receptive to the Gospel. Read Don Richardson’s Eternity In Their Hearts for more on this concept.
  2. Have any doctoral or other secular studies been done on the people in which worldview issues are investigated and evaluated as to their effect upon change? Often these are later published in books. Many of these are done through Western university grants. Also look for local government studies particularly related to education, health and population, and agriculture. Worldview effects are generally related to why people are slow to change their beliefs and practices.
  3. Check the internet for government studies and people group prayer and adoption guides. Take these studies as informative but not necessarily accurate as government departments may have agenda and religious sources may not be substantiated.
  4. Network with others (both GCC and international government agencies) known to be working among the people group or language cognate or cultural/religious similarity.
  5. Local pastors and Christian religious leaders are generally not reliable sources of worldview information as they work intuitively among their own people. However, new or recent converts among a people group may be able to tell what attracted them or opened them up to the Gospel. Long-term and retired missionaries may have helpful information gleaned over many years of interacting with a people or their neighbors. Be prepared to question precisely rather than asking them to simply “tell all they know” as this may reflect more memories than usable information. Especially look for instances of difficult beginnings in a work or failure among a people. Ask what was learned when this happened.
  6. As a general rule it is easier to get information by asking people what they do than to ask why they do it. Ask questions like: When there is no rain for your crops what do you do? When your children get sick what do you do? When someone dies what do you do? Look for trends by asking many people and look for common threads. Also look for practices that are dying out or that are no longer carried out. See if you can find out why as this may point to changing worldview.

One last thought:

You may already know a considerable amount of worldview information. One way is to use this inventory and see how many questions you can answer from you existing knowledge and experience. Another way is to put together a buzz group of people who know about or have worked among a people group; begin listing characteristics of the target people by categories. Record the issues and characteristics and then try to assess some priority ranking in the list. Especially zero in on those issues and characteristics related to spiritual change and openness.

Summary: There are often many cultural, social, and other barriers that a people may have. Their religion will be tightly intertwined with their society and culture. It will find expression in the cultural art forms and festivals. Be sure to look into these to see if hidden barriers may exist. Usually there is a fear that some of the culture will be lost if their religion is changed. Fear of offending the ancestral spirits or the ruling spirits is a major barrier in many societies. Barriers may have a sexual factor, differing significantly between men and women (issues like ritual purity from menses or giving birth), differing between young and old—older people generally being more conservative of the old ways, and younger people more curious and willing to experiment with new things.

This list is a resource and only suggestive for the worldview investigator. You may not need to investigate every category or every aspect of any one category. Some of the things will be observable. Some you will need to ask about. Some you may never get answers for, though in time you may be able to suspect an answer. A number of the questions are deliberately redundant to see if asking from a different perspective brings a different answer to test for uniformity of answers. If anything has been overlooked in this list, then add your own questions or rephrase these to be more appropriate or understandable for your people. Some issues may be explored better by asking people to tell you stories about evil spirits, worship, etc. and just let them talk. After they have had their say, then ask questions to clarify what they have offered. At times you may need to engage in exchange about your culture by offering to share from your cultures and let listeners compare and respond from theirs if they are willing.

J.O. Terry, Rev 5/03

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (12 of 13)

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

In what language or format does new information come to the people?

  1. From what sources? When?
  2. Does different kinds of information (agriculture, health, spiritual) come in different languages? Heart language vs. trade/regional languages?
  3. Do people share information and news in story form?

Where or how do the people see themselves as needy (lacking) or needing change?

  1. If people could change anything in their lives what would they change?
  2. If people could have anything they desired what would it be?
  3. Do the people consider themselves as blessed in some way? Cursed in some way?
  4. What would they like to remain unchanged in their society?
  5. Are people are satisfied with their religion? What would happen if it changed?

What changes are affecting the people?

  1. What changes have occurred in their recent past that either predispose the society to change or that hinders change?
  2. What changes are presently occurring that are disturbing or unsettling to the people?
  3. What impending changes are feared to happen in the near future because of pressures building up?
  1. Are the people literate? Semi-literate? Non-literate?
  1. Would they be considered oral communicators, preferring orality over literacy?
  2. Is there segmentation in their orality (literacy for certain people, others oral)?

Other Spiritual Beliefs, Practices, Customs—What other beliefs, practices or customs would affect any potential change in spiritual beliefs for the people? These may relate to taboo foods, cultural practices, sacred animals (totems), sacred places, sacred days or seasons, rites of passage (initiation into manhood or womanhood), festivals and rituals related to the natural or spirit world, citizenship identified with a predominant religion, fear of persecution and loss of benefits, etc.

  1. As a barrier making new teaching hard to understand, accept or practice?
  2. As a bridge making new teaching desired, acceptable, and facilitating understanding and practice?

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (11 of 13)

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

Cultural and Religious Festivals—as cultural, societal, religious events these can have powerful influences over individuals in a people group.

  1. What are their festivals and what religious significance do they have?
  2. What do these festivals require of the people?
  3. Are there things associated with the festivals which are against God’s Word? Drunkenness, combat or sexual practices (fertility cults)?
  4. Will some of the rituals and events associated with festivals need to be replaced with “redeemed” events when the people become believers? Harvest festivals, marriages, funerals, coming of age rituals, etc.

How do the people keep alive (share) heritage stories?

  1. Who is the custodian of these stories?
  2. Are these stories told in a special place? By whom? When?
  3. Can anyone hear these stories?
  4. What can you say about the format of the stories or how the stories are told?

Who are the gatekeepers in the society who control what people believe and do?

  1. Are people free to change? Do women have freedom to do so?
  2. How do gatekeepers maintain their control—threat of excommunication, some corporeal punishment, threat of death?
  3. Are certain articles of clothing outward manifestations of the prevailing religion or social status?
  4. Would not wearing these articles of clothing be a problem for new believers, those leaving the prevailing religion?
  5. Are there food restrictions which are enforced for the prevailing religion?
  6. Is attendance at community or political events related to the prevailing religion mandatory?
  7. Is the ownership or use of agricultural lands, fishing resources or property restricted to those of the prevailing religion?
  8. Are burial rights (or cremation rights) or location restricted in any way for those not of the prevailing religion?
  9. Is access to agricultural labor limited or restricted to those of the prevailing religion?
  10. Are access to wells, schools, clinics, co-ops and other community services restricted to those of the prevailing religion?

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (10 of 13)

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

The Bible

  1. Have the people seen a Bible? Read from a Bible? Possess a Bible or New Testament? Gospel portion? What language—heart language or market language?
  2. What is their opinion about the Bible? Holy Book? Why or why not?
  3. Is the Bible considered to be true (a source of truth)?
  4. Are other religious books considered on an equal with the Bible?
  5. What is the people’s general source of information about deities and spirits, other spiritual issues? A book? Priests? Tradition of elders?
  6. Have the people heard any stories, proverbs or Scripture quotes from the Bible? Could they tell or quote any of these?

Jesus Christ

  1. Is Jesus Christ known to the people at all?
  2. What is understood about his relationship to the Supreme God?
  3. Is he thought to be a reincarnation or appearance of some other deity?
  4. Do they know where he came from?
  5. Do they know why he came to earth? What did he do during his life?
  6. Do they know why he had to die?
  7. Do they know what happened after he died and was buried?
  8. Do they know where he is today?
  9. Could they tell a story about Jesus?

Holy Spirit

  1. Is there a Supreme Spirit? What is his name (or what is he called)?
  2. Where does he live?
  3. What does he do? (his work)
  4. What is he like? (characteristics)
  5. Can he be seen or his presence acknowledged in some way?
  6. Is he associated with any other identity—like with the angel Gabriel? (Muslims)

Christianity

  1. Who are Christians? Do the people know any Christians?
  2. What are their beliefs? (What do people think they are?)
  3. How is their religion different from the people’s religion? How do the people perceive the difference? Good or bad?
  4. Is there any desire to be like Christians?
  5. What are Christians like? Are they perceived as good people? If not, why? What do people admire about Christians? Dislike about Christians?
  6. Is Christianity perceived as a foreign religion? A Western religion?
  7. Could a person be a Christian and still be a member of that society? Or is their dominant religion(or practice) considered mandatory for belonging?
  8. What is seen as the transition point for becoming a Christian? Baptism? Attending Christian meetings? Some kind of signaling of acceptance?
  9. Are there any known or dominant cults or so-called Christian sects in the area? What are their main teachings?
  10. Where does their knowledge about Christianity come from? Are there any Christian schools in the area, Catholic or otherwise, which community members may have attended and been introduced to some Christian teaching?
  11. Is there any evidence of anti-Christian teaching being circulated? What specific teachings?

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (9 of 13)

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

Syncretistic Elements

  1. Are there observable beliefs or practices which have obviously been borrowed from Christianity which if left unaddressed could lead to syncretism or new believers?
  2. Are there any parallel beliefs or practices which will need transforming when a person becomes a believer?
  3. Are there any elements of sacred objects, amulets, charms, or religious furnishings likely to be carried over which can encourage syncretism if not renounced, put away or destroyed?

Power Encounters

  1. Have there been any known instances or practice of demons being cast out of persons? By whom—believers or nonbelievers?
  2. Is demon possession or manifestation a common occurrence? What is people’s attitude toward this? Is it an accepted part of the religion or culture?
  3. Are miraculous healings known or common? By whom? Are these attributed to Jesus?
  4. Are there reported instances of the dead being restored to life? Revived by whom?

How does the group relate to their neighboring peoples?

  1. Would they be likely to share new information or beliefs with them?
  2. How would changes in one group affect another? Would persecution result?
  3. Is their religion a matter of national identity? (see #23 also)
  4. Is a people’s religion choice registered by the government or noted on identity cards?

Social Elements

  1. Are marriage partners restricted to only members of the prevailing religion? Will finding marriage partners for those leaving the religion be a problem?
  2. What other restrictions relate to marriage partners? Within family or clan? Outside family of clan?
  3. Is the group socially isolated by geography, language or religion? Is the group considered a minority people? How do they view themselves in relation to others?
  4. Could another group of similar people or those related in some way serve as a gateway, bellwether, or influential model for the target group?
  5. Has a person of peace been identified?

Media Exposure

  1. Are Christian radio programs in either the trade language or heart language being heard among the target group?
  2. Have any in the group seen or heard of the JESUS Film when traveling outside their area?
  3. Are there any “Christian” artifacts seen in homes such as “sacred heart of Jesus” posters, Scripture calendars or crosses? Crosses marked or painted on houses?
  4. Is Christian music in either the heart language or trade language available?
  5. Is television being viewed among the group? What kinds of programs are viewed?

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

Spiritual and General Worldview Inventory Questions by J.O. Terry (8 of 13)

September 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

To Explore For Preparing Bible Storying Lessons

(Not all questions may pertain to your people. Some overlapping is intentional to verify consistency of information.)

Prayer

  1. How do the people talk to their god(s) or to the spirits?
  2. What is the prayer habit of the people? When? Where? Why—adoration and worship, duty, fear, thanksgiving?
  3. Who do people pray to: God(s)? Spirits? (good or evil) Ancestors? Idols?
  4. Is prayer a ritual saying or mantra? A beseeching for some need? A conversation?
  5. What other activities are connected with prayer—postures, offerings, etc.?
  6. What may be done to make prayer more effective—offerings, sacrifices, rituals?
  7. What can make prayers ineffective or disqualify one from praying?
  8. What happens if a person fails to pray, or prays wrongly?
  9. What if prayers are not answered, is there another to appeal to?
  10. How does a person learn to pray?
  11. Is there a special time for prayer—time of day, season, circumstance, etc.?
  12. Who may offer a prayer—anyone, or only a designated religious practitioner?
  13. Is there a practice of divination? How is it done? Who may do it? Is this the only way the gods or spirits speak to the people?
  14. Are dreams, visions, or psychic experiences important means of communication with the unseen spirit world?
  15. Could you write a brief description of a typical worship experience or observation?

Purpose of Their Religion

  1. People have different reasons for practicing their religion — to go to heaven, have adequate material provision in the afterlife, ward off evil, receive healing, provide for family needs, provide for agricultural needs, release from suffering in this life, be absorbed into some cosmic entity or the motherland, duty, find peace and freedom from suffering, etc. What is their main reason? Try to make a statement that sums up the basic reason for the people’s religion and its practice of worship and petition.
  2. Is religion optional? Can a person elect not to have or follow the group’s religion? Be a free-thinker, atheist, or agnostic?
  3. Are there any who have left the religion of their parents seeking a new or better religion?
  4. What are the consequences for anyone leaving the prevailing religion? For their family?
  5. Would any say their religion had failed them in some way?
  6. How is their religion propagated—evangelists, catechisms, ritual or ceremony, other?

QUESTIONNAIRE, WORLDVIEW INVENTORY–NEWEST 40

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