There was over 70 years of ministry experience sitting around the table. From church planters, to veteran lead pastors, to new lead pastors, to adjunct professors. Brett Durbin had called us together to go to the Philippines with him in January. Trash Mountain is the middle of starting new ministries to multiple trash dump sites in the country – as documented in their film “Stay.” Surprisingly, one of the biggest needs the locals have asked for was not what they expected: More churches.
Let me back up a bit – Trash Mountain’s philosophy is simple in concept – develop ministries run by ‘locals’ that can be self-sustainable that helps people long-term and is gospel-centered. The key heroes in this plan are the local pastors and churches around these dump sites. We are not talking about mega-churches here. We are talking about groups of about 20 to 30 people in a hut with a pastor who might have a high-school level education. They don’t get paid for the job. They don’t have access to training or conferences. They have a heart for their community and a desire to make much of Jesus in places that the world has forgotten.
Those that lived on these trash mountains have asked for more churches – probably because they see the work they are doing in Jesus’ name. The local pastors know the only this can happen is if they start – wait for it – multiplying leaders and getting better trained themselves. Stuff like sermon preparation, leadership development, understanding the Bible better, worship leading, and marriage and parenting counseling.
I’d ask Brett – ‘Is this normal for you guys? Do you typically go in and do church work first?’ Brett’s response was classic – ‘There has been nothing typical about the Philippines.’
Trash Mountain’s response to this is both a solution and an opportunity. Get some pastors who can speak to these issues, make sure they have a heart for missions, ask them to go to the Philippines with Trash Mountain. It will also provide an opportunity for these pastors to see where their churches might be able to partner with this new work.
So there we sat in a crowded conference room in the warehouse district of north Topeka – 4 pastors, 2 other guys from Trash Mountain. There are two other guys that will join us later.
I am always nervous around other pastors when I first meet them. The sad truth is we can be pretty insecure and that can translate into very big egos and very elaborate masks.
Not all pastors are this way. Not by a long shot. Most of us are trying to do the best we can to help people and having a lot of fun doing it. Most of us love to laugh and joke around as well as study deeply the Scriptures.
I can’t really put into words what happened in this two hour meeting. Just kind of clicked. Lots of teasing and laughing and questions. Questions are good!!!! Lots of questions we asked each other. You know how awesome that is?
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be journaling this trip and what I’m going thru. Should be one heck of a journey.