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Planting Churches in the Most Difficult Places: An interview with Dick Brogden Who participates in the ministry of Live Dead?

Dick Brogden: The beauty of Live Dead is that it functions as a partnership. Live Dead started as an initiative within the Assemblies of God (USA) to do pioneer church planting among the unreached. Our first team in Sudan however had no other American AG workers other than ourselves. Our team members were Malawians. Our second team was Africans, Swedes, Finns, and a Scott. We realized early on that the work of church planting among the unreached must be done in partnership with the body of Christ.

Church planting among the unreached must be done in partnership with the body of Christ.

So while the AG started Live Dead, and while we continue to steward it, Live Dead has become a movement of many mission agencies and many nationalities. In the Arab World for example, we have 20 CP teams, 20 different sending agencies, and 20 different nationalities. Other Live Dead areas have similar partnership diversity. We have team leaders who are not AG, we have team leader overseers who are not AG. Live Dead is an intentional effort to collaborate with the wider body of Christ to plant churches among the unreached.

Live Dead is not a missions agency. Everyone who joins a Live Dead team must be sent by an evangelical agency or sending church that is focused on planting churches among unreached peoples. We use the Lausanne Covenant as our statement of faith. What have you found to be most effective in bringing people to Christ in unreached people groups?

Dick Brogden: There is no silver bullet. Peoples and contexts vary. What we have found is that three encounters almost always interact in the process of the unreached coming to Christ.

  • Love Encounter. This is life on life of the missionary and the lost person. Serving, caring, laughing, crying, speaking, living together in contextual and empowered presence.
  • Truth Encounter. This is the intentional bold proclamation of the Gospel and the steady invitation to study the Bible together. Faith still comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
  • Power Encounter. This involves miracles, dreams, power encounters, and supernatural acts of God.

The first two, missionaries can actively pursue and even guarantee happen. The third, missionaries pray for and position themselves for God to act, but in the end the Power encounter is an act of God.

Almost invariably, these three aspects (love, truth, and power) interplay when an unreached person, family, or people is reached with the gospel. Other helps have value (media helps us evangelize), but what is required is boots on the ground: missionaries, imbedded in context, fluent in the heart language of the unreached who do life (love, truth, and power) together day in and day out in the elongated discipleship process.

[Editor’s note: Read what missiologist Charles Kraft had to say about this in “Allegiance, Truth and Power: Three crucial dimensions for Christian living.”]  

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2019

About the Author: Dick Brogden, PhD, and his wife, Jennifer, have served among Muslims for the last two and a half decades; Mauritania (1992), Kenya (1993-1995), Sudan (1996-2011), Egypt and the Arab World (2012 – present). They helped found the Live Dead movement and now oversee Church Planting for Live Dead in the Arab World and help serve the Live Dead movement globally. Dick is the author of Loving Muslims, Live Dead Joy: 365 Days of Living and Dying with Jesus, This Gospel: A Collection of Missions Sermons, Abiding in Jesus, Abiding Mission: Missionary Spirituality and Disciple-Making Among the Muslim Peoples of Egypt and Northern Sudan, Saharan Siftings: Lessons From the Desert and the editor of The Live Dead Journal: 30 Days of Prayer for Unreached Peoples, 30 Days of Challenge, and Live Dead: The Journey.

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