The Missionary-Pastor Relationship

Pastor Matthew Pottenger and his family recently finished six-years as missionaries helping Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge and his family plant Calvary Chapel Lakeside in Kisumu, Kenya. That church was then able to raise up families to launch more churches. 

As the Lord continues to grow the Calvary Chapel Movement, it is most likely it will expand most in international settings and it is in this consideration we thought it good to ask some simple questions of Pastors Stephen and Matthew concerning the missionary and pastor relationship. 

What is the best way a missionary can help a church planter?

Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge: there are several ways a missionary can help a church planter. First, is by being sensitive to know when to advise and when to actually come alongside to assist the church planting pastor. Before the Lord raises up national helpers, the missionary should help the pastor identify and disciple those He seems to have a call upon. It is of great importance for the missionary to spend as much time as possible with the planter to understand one another personally, and not only in ministry settings.

Missionary and Pastor Matthew Pottenger: One way that a missionary is able to best help the church planter is to not insert to much of himself in the DNA of the church. I say this as by definition the missionary’s role is usually temporary and also of foreign culture, and the church needs to be local and enduring (long past the timeframe of the missionary’s involvement).  Thus in the early stages (when the church is in the greatest vulnerability and neediness) the constant struggle for the missionary is to let the church and ministry grow at a natural rate, and not an artificial one. Often, though not always the case, the missionary may be coming from a history of ministry experience, and the planter may be new in the role he is now finding himself, this can prove most difficult at times for the missionary not to insert himself too much in an authority or domineering way in the functions of the church.  But it must be remembered that to whatever degree the missionary builds something on himself, the church will eventually reach a point where it will have to be weaned from his presence… which in the best of circumstances is difficult and in the worst can be detrimental and destructive to the future, long-term health, of the church. So in short, the missionary should play a “supportive” role to the church planter, thus allowing the church and the church planter to grow and develop in a steady, healthy environment.

Can you define the Biblical role and office of missionary and of a pastor and how they complement each other?

Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge: I believe the biblical role of the pastor and missionary is seen comparing Timothy and Paul. Both examples are servants, but the main aim for the pastor should be for the long run of being the servant leader. I don’t know of any provision, though there is a possibility, of the missionary as pastor, especially long term. To confuse these roles can be dangerous for the church plant.
Missionary and Pastor Matthew Pottenger: when we look at the scriptural examples (and thus definitions) of the pastor and the missionary, it can help us to see and understand how they can help one another.  We see this clearly in the relationship that Paul had with the “church leaders” in the different epistles that he wrote, and compare that to what we see him live out in Acts.  Paul, as a missionary, was one who was “sent out” (apostle) by a church, commissioned to the work that God was calling him to.  He rarely stayed for too long in one place, but seemed to be moving from place to place with the aim of 1) preaching the gospel, 2) making disciples, 3) raising up leaders, & 4) returning to that location to “strengthen the brethren”.  Paul knew that his time in each place had a time limit, and that the best thing he could do to secure the long term future of the church in that community was to ensure that proper leadership was in place. This leads us to the role of the Pastor (or Elder or Bishop, to borrow the other terms to describe this person in the early church).  The Pastor is then one who remains plugged into the community and ministers (usually for a prolonged time) to flock that God has placed him among.  Paul’s letters to people like Timothy and Titus are helpful examples of the relationship that he (a missionary) had with the local pastor.  He encouraged them, challenged them, prayed for them, exhorted them, and taught them, but he let them be the ones who then went to do all that to the flocks whom God had called them to.  These roles then compliment each other well as often the Pastor (especially in the early stages of ministry) may be in need of a “father figure” or “coach” who can advise, encourage, and challenge the pastor in the seasons of life and ministry that the he is presently experiencing.

When is the time for a missionary to move on from the church plant to the next part of the calling? Are there key signals to look for, or is there another way to know when the mission has completed the mission (at least at that location)? 

Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge: the time for the missionary to move on will be as soon as the church begins to stand on it’s own, especially when the first crop of leaders are raised up. If the missionary remains past that stage, it is possible there will seem to be two centers of power and maturing leaders can struggle to whom to show allegiance too. Another key signal is the pastor’s ability to servant lead independently from the help of the missionary. When the missionary see’s the fulfillment of the church’s mission, that is a clear signal to let things go on, trusting God in the care for His church.
Missionary and Pastor Matthew Pottenger: As to the timing that a missionary spends in one location.  It is my opinion that this is usually a Spirit-led thing and must be handled case by case.  However, that being said, I think there is also wisdom that we can gain from both the Word and from the examples (both good and bad) of our contemporaries around us today.  First off, a missionary must be firmly aware of what his Mission is, and what God has called him to do, as well as to be aware of how that mission may evolve with time and the needs of the place that he has been called to minister.  I have heard it said that often our calling can be thought of as either to a People, a Place, or to a Project.  Though as we are finite humans who are always learning and growing in our understanding of God and His will for our lives, it is quite fathomable that our sense of our calling can change with time and with the experiences that God uses to shape us.  As a result, it is most important for the missionary to be “current” with the Lord at all times and sensitive to the nature of the work that he is doing.  Paul describes in 2 Tim 2:2 that he taught timothy, timothy was therefore to teach other faithful men who would in-turn teach others also… this making of disciples who make other disciples is one of the gauges that I have found to be helpful and healthy in assessing the maturity of the work and the timing of when the missionary is no longer needed (at least not in that location).  In other words, one should always be duplicating himself in order to “work himself out of a job”.  If you think about the effectiveness of a local person ministering to a local person (no language or cultural barriers) it will be much more effective than the missionary, and thus for the missionary to replace himself with a national who can do what he does, but from that local context, he will have done the best thing he can do to ensure the longevity of the work there.  So in short, the missionary shouldn’t leave the work too early when it hasn’t stabilized or matured enough to weather several of the early challenges that they will face, and should be working towards raising up people who would at some point be able to take over the work that he does.

What should a missionary never do?  

Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge: a missionary being from outside the culture can easily believe and trust others, some of whom the pastor may desire to take more time with to develop trust. This can lead him in pushing for people whom he or she wants to be in ministry, yet it’s not so with pastor. A missionary should never do, or say, anything that will make any church member look down at the pastor or disrespect him. This can be difficult, but it is important to be very sensitive in this area. The missionary should always relate the pastor to be as a co-laborer and not as a junior to them. The missionary should be ready to trust the pastor, even with financial issues. In case of a problem the missionary family should not call the pastor’s family and bash the planter before them or anybody else. Instead, the two families should be co-laborers and esteem each other. 

Missionary and Pastor Matthew Pottenger: a missionary should never assume he knows it all, or that he is the savior of all that bad or hard things that the church might pass through.  There is a great temptation for someone (especially coming from the west, and going into a developing country) to assert that “he knows best” and “he can fix any problem”.  This superiority complex is a sure poison for any church work, and inherently lacks both Christ-like humility as well as local culture sensitivity.  Though it is possible for the ministry to be “saved” or pushed through hard times at the will power and resources of the missionary, it is only creating a longer-term problem of “dependance on the missionary” rather than a dependance on Christ.  Often, when a solution is sought after that is local in origin, culturally sensitive, and spiritually guided by the Spirit, it will be like putting “miracle-grow” on the new church plant, helping it to get a shot or boost of nutrients that will go a long way in establishing its permanency in that locality and among those people.

Anything else you would add? 

Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge: the missionary should be sensitive to identify when the Lord is working on the life of the church planter. Do to mistakes, or sin, be sensitive on how to handle that problem without destroying a worthy course. I believe the missionary should be sensitive to also pray for and be involved in the life of the planter, especially as the planter and family get pressed between a hard place and a rock for in the early parts of the church plant. Lastly, the missionary must learn no one is perfect and so put on Christ’s characteristics.

Missionary and Pastor Matthew Pottenger: an illustration that often helped me (as a missionary) to identify my role in the church plant was a marriage relationship.  My role was like that of the wife, and the Pastor, the husband.  I was no less important than he, nor were my ideas less or more valuable.  But, by being in that submissive role, not in the “leading role”, it helped me to add council when needed, support and help (as a helpmate) without asserting myself or trying to “prove myself” or to gain acceptance.  I would often act as a “sounding board” for the pastor to bounce ideas and thoughts off of, or to process the life and challenges associated with ministry.  When we worked to compliment each other (and not to compete with each other) we truly saw lots of work get done.  This often meant that i had to sacrifice my “western mindset” and to slow down and be patient for things to happen at their own time.  Another helpful path that we followed (and I would recommend to others) is that I was never identified as “Pastor” before the fellowship (though we couldn’t stop people from calling me by that title) we would always refer to me as “brother Matthew” and to him as “Pastor Stephen”, even from the early, pre-sunday service days. I think this helped to ebb off the confusion that people have of “who is leading,” or “who is in charge here”, especially in a society where the “white man” is far to often elevated.  This also helped as there was a lot of “ itle-abuse” in the churches of our community, so I was able to lead by setting an example that I don’t need to be called pastor, or apostle (as that was my role) or bishop (as I often would oversee things), but just did all those things as “brother.”
Pictured is missionaries Matthew and Peggy Pottenger with their two children being prayed over by Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyandenge at their last service at Calvary Chapel Lakeside in Kisumu, Kenya. Matthew and Peggy had helped start the church and were used to bring it to a mature level before leaving.

Pictured is missionaries Matthew and Peggy Pottenger with their two children being prayed over by Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyandenge at their last service at Calvary Chapel Lakeside in Kisumu, Kenya. Matthew and Peggy had helped start the church and were used to bring it to a mature level before leaving.

Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge continues to be the under shepherd at Calvary Chapel Lakeside. That church has bounced of God to send out three church planting groups in the last two years. God has moved Pastor Matthew Pottenger from the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, to the shores of the Potomac as he is now an associate pastor at Calvary Chapel DC Metro in Washington D.C.

We’ve Launched Our Second Church Plant!

When my wife and I moved away from our hometown 5 years ago, we planted a new Calvary Chapel in a downtown urban area with about 500,000 people under the age of 40. We knew no one, brought limited resources, and scrambled to find work to supply our needs and people to reach with the Gospel. After much hardship and intense toiling, the church grew and leadership was raised up to continue the work.

Sensing God calling us to step out in faith and plant our second church, we sought the Lord and He opened doors back in our hometown. A Calvary Chapel had dropped their affiliation and the county of 350,000 people now had a tremendous need. The school we wanted our kids to attend since birth offered my wife and I both a job as an administrator and middle school teacher (respectively) at the same pay my job was paying me in our previous city!

When we arrived, we took the summer to get settled and then had an interest meeting at a local artisan coffeehouse. About 20 adults came and asked great questions. The excitement was palpable. A friend offered us a free warehouse space for us to meet in, so we began meeting Sunday nights to prepare for the launch of Shoreline Church. We met from 6-7pm and I taught through Colossians, with a good friend offering to come and lead us in a few worship songs. After the Bible study, I invited anyone to stay for an additional hour to talk about the launch of the church. This group heard what the vision, mission, and core values of Shoreline would be. I asked them to make a one-year commitment to the church and began investing relationally in this “Launch Team”.

In search of a space, we were alerted to a special limitation in our city. It turns out that religious organizations are unable to lease any space in the main part of the city. This led us to begin looking around, and eventually brought us east of the interstate to a very young and growing area that is on the cutting edge of expansion and growth. We drove through this area and found a YMCA that was a perfect meeting place for a church plant. After speaking with the director, they were overjoyed to have a church meeting there and made many accommodations for us to meet weekly, at a very affordable price!

We took the Christmas break to get everything prepared including sound equipment and chairs, kids curriculum, room decor/lighting and signage/invite cards. Many other Calvary Chapels in the state of Florida came alongside us to donate needed equipment or make a financial donation. We initially had a $20,000 budget but found it was met simply with churches donating their used equipment to us!

Last month we had our first Sunday morning service! There were 85 adults and children and a buzz that was contagious. The local papers have been doing stories on the church and most of the people have heard about us through the yard signs we have placed around the community. Every month we will have a “NEXT” class sharing our vision/mission/core values and answering questions people have about the church. We are starting three Community Groups next week around the region and have already started Discipleship Collectives where we are going through the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa new believer’s study.

It is exciting to watch God build His kingdom, and to see such a different and fresh work than He had done in our previous church plant. It is vital to know our calling and to pursue what God has for us. We can’t have someone else’s calling, and we can’t make God fulfill our plans. We have to walk by faith and submit to His will and call, and watch Him do the impossible. I can’t wait for what’s next




Pastor Pilgrim Benham is a church planter with Calvary Church Planting Network. He is looking for other potential church planters to participate in a Florida church-planting internship. For more details, email us at

In Memory of Jess Rich: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

We at Calvary Church Planting Network mourn the loss of Pastor and Missionary Jess Rich this morning. We ask you to join us in praying for his wife Beverly and the ongoing church works in and around Jinga, Uganda. We also celebrate the more than 20 churches and the pattern of multiplication Jess and Beverly established, not only among Ugandans, but among many young missionaries they poured into. While few outside of East Africa knew of the great work God was doing through Jess and Beverly, theirs is lasting fruit in Ugandan led churches. Surely this morning he heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Read more about Jess & Beverly’s ministry on Calvary Albuquerque’s website.



2014 CCPN Nairobi Roundtable

At the 2013 CCPN Nairobi Roundtable there was the sense of a great movement of God for new church plants throughout Kenya, East Africa and the whole African continent. We spoke of an initiative to encourage planting of 500 new churches in the next decade among the 54 countries, about 2,000 languages, 3,000 tribes and 1.2-billion individuals. This week we held the 2014 CCPN Roundtable themed on equipping and it was good to hear from church planters, mentors and church planting coaches that new churches are being established and progress is being made towards reaching the goal.

The main sessions were themed on equipping, with a side session to minister to and help equip church planter wives wand those that minister to them. I taught a very practical session titled “Equipping Mentors and Church Planters,” and Pastor Murigi Kariuki from Calvary Chapel Githurai presented a very thought provoking session titled, “Equipping the Next Generation.” 

Maybe the most hard hitting message was the final session from Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyandege from Calvary Chapel Lakeside in Kisumu. Using Acts 13:1-3 as his main text, Stephen spoke directly to senior pastors about continuing the equipping of church planters and their families after they have left to begin the work. He connected the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the sending church to identify and support the church planter and then examples of his being helped in the plant at Kisumu for years after he and his family began. Stephen included the need for mentor pastors to visit and actively take part in the new church, especially in helping the new pastors develop vision for their next steps. He then gave examples of how he and the church in Kisumu provides support to men and their families sent to establish churches in Kilgoris, Mbale and Kisii. 

During a chai break we took time for church planters to give three-minute testimonies regarding the work they are called to. There was applause to hear of God’s work of establishing churches in remote villages as well as plans to plant in urban centers. Several people from outside the Calvary Chapel Movement were surprised to hear of the fellowship and support mentors receive from their sending church.

From the eastern edge of this immense continent it is overwhelming to consider the vast stretches of unreached peoples. It can be discouraging to consider the inroads Islam and cults are making in this land. Yet the 2014 CCPN Nairobi Roundtable provided great encouragement and needed momentum. Since 2013 fledgling churches in Kisii, Mataara, and Kagame have come up. We’ve heard testimony of works in progress in places as diverse as Thika, Kilgoris and Mbale. Pastors stood up and were glad to say they believe God is calling them to send planters to numerous areas in 2015. Those numbers are still far from the 500 we spoke of in 2013, but we know great works are going on in Uganda, South Africa, DRC and South Sudan. I rejoice in significant progress and the benchmark the CCPN Roundtable provides to see this.


Ed Compean is a church planting coach based in Nairobi with his wife Kelli. You can read their blog or follow him on Twitter @Ed_Compean.

CCPN 2014

CCPN 2014

Church Planter Profile: PILGRIM BENHAM // Reality Tampa

This Monday, we’re highlighting a church planter in Tampa, FL. Pilgrim Benham is the pastor of Reality Church Tampa. God is doing a great work out there and Pilgrim’s story will inspire you…

1. In a nutshell, how did you find the city you planted in? 

I was on staff at Calvary Chapel Sarasota for 8 years and essentially started sensing a desire to step out in faith to plant at a larger urban center that had to have three things: a large college (or several), a deep need for a Biblically-faithful Calvary Chapel-style church, and be a city on the “rise” meaning it would be on the cusp of developing into a much bigger city in the near future. I didn’t want to be “fishin for a mission” so we fasted, prayed, and started researching cities that fit this criteria. We identified Austin, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina as prospective cities but then realized God was on the move in Austin and Charleston didn’t align with my personality. So one of my mentors said “When I go fishing I don’t just launch out into the water and look for fish. I use a fish finder, and go where the fish are. Plus Jesus said we are to be fishers of men, right? So where are the nearest fish?” I realized we were overlooking the largest and nearest urban area in our vicinity so decided to check Tampa out, only being an hour north of us. When we pulled into the downtown area, the Lord spoke clearly that this was where we were to move and plant our family and lives for the next several years to see the Gospel and a faithful church planted.

2. What were some of the lessons you learned early on about church planting?

I learned early on how dangerous (and difficult) it is to lay hands on people too quickly. My wife Jenn and my two kids (at that time 5 and 2) moved along with a friend, and, with the exception of Jenn’s mom driving up, we didn’t have a launch team or a core group. So I became a decathlete overnight and started working two retail jobs along with leading worship, preaching, evangelizing, leading Bible studies, creating graphics, designing websites, sending emails, making coffee, cleaning toilets and printing bulletins. It wasn’t that I didn’t like delegating; we had no one to delegate to! We needed help and this tempted us to prematurely put people into leadership positions early which caused much heartache. Some of them didn’t align with the vision of the church and caused great turmoil when they left, and others just left. As tempting as it may be, I would encourage planters to give people assignments and work but not titles and to start churches with an outside board of skilled elders/mentors from other churches to provide feedback, accountability and encouragement. I guess I wanted us to look like a thriving church with several elders which in the end means I was idolizing how we were perceived, rather than what was ultimately healthy for our church. Lesson learned!
I would encourage planters to give people assignments and work but not titles.

3. If you did this again, what are a few things you’d do differently?

We were sent with a few thousand dollars and a second-hand sound system I basically stole from our sending church (just kidding, but I didn’t really ask permission…). I was also able to stay on staff for three months while we adjusted to life as a bivocational pastor. When we moved to Tampa I got a job at Apple and also worked various odd-second jobs to keep us literally afloat. I don’t regret the hard work as my job at Apple has brought many people to Christ and many customers and coworkers to Reality, but I would argue that bivocational pastoring is the most difficult (and possibly rewarding) way to plant a church. My time is my greatest commodity so if I wanted to see fruit develop quicker I would have raised some financial support to supplement my income and not work the second job along with Apple.

4. What are some of the most important things for a potential church planter to consider before they leave to go plant?

I’ve been tested in more ways than I ever expected and have learned what Jesus meant when He said that the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing and it needs forceful men to advance it. Church planting is not a convenient way to gain an audience or to get your way if the senior pastor isn’t on your team. It isn’t a solution because you want to be different or cooler or to finally get your own pulpit. That attitude won’t build the kingdom, it only divides it and builds your own fan base. In church planting there’s no room for insecure guys who want to please man. There’s no room for professionals who want to prove they can launch a successful business. Nor is there room for the faint of heart who give up when the battle seems bleak. Put your gloves on and get ready to fight the fight of your life while you bleed, sweat, cry, and manage to catch your breath every few moments.
In church planting there’s no room for insecure guys who want to please man.

5. What is your vision for the next year of your church?

We believe God has poised us to be a blessing to our city and our tagline this year is “Love on Display”. We want to continue to show our city that we are His disciples by how we love one another. This will be our fourth year and we started in a storefront, moved to the YMCA, and now meet in a vintage theater near downtown. We would love to see more men raised up in leadership and more community groups spread through the various neighborhoods in our sprawling city. We would love to plant a daughter church in the near future and believe God is preparing our hearts as a family to that end. We trust that where God guides, He provides, and we have seen Him get the glory from the very beginning. My prayer is that we would be faithful and fruitful in all that God has entrusted us with!
Learn more about Pastor Pilgrim and Reality Church at Here are a couple pictures to help you get a glimpse at Reality Church Tampa…

ReEngage 2013: Nairobi recap

We’ve had a very successful run of ReEngage intensives so far (and still have 1 left) in 2013! So far, ReEngage intensives have happened in 5 U.S. states, 4 countries, on 4 continents! The whole world needs to see and hear what God is doing through the faithful teaching of God’s Word! Here’s a recap of ReEngage Nairobi from Pastor Ed Compean…


In God’s sovereignty Calvary Chapel was birthed in one of the most privileged American suburban settings in a time of great cultural change. By the power of God’s Spirit that privilege was leveraged to spread God’s word through the planting of Calvary Chapel churches that then planted healthy Calvary Chapel churches far from those origins. While having the honor to host the Calvary Church Planting Network ReEngage 13 Conference in Nairobi, I considered how God is continuing to spread that influence in diverse places. At this conference I could see great honor and reverence for the early work of the Spirit in the movement, but I could also see the future of Calvary Chapel is beginning to look much different.

At ReEngage Nairobi we were asked questions that were likely never considered in the Southern California settings of our founders. A young Masai church planter working among a group of pastoralists began the question and answer session by asking, “If we follow the shepherds with their cows and only meet under a tree, is that still a Calvary Chapel?” It was not long ago that meeting in school cafeterias, the use of electric guitars in worship, and pastors wearing jeans raised legitimate questions for churches in the suburbs of our origins. The questions being raised for the next generation of churches are just as legitimate and is evidence of God spreading the influence of Jesus through the Calvary Chapel Movement for another generation.

“If we follow the shepherds with their cows and only meet under a tree, is that still a Calvary Chapel?”

As God continues to use our movement among some of the least reached and hardest to reach peoples, these and others will be real questions for church planters and mentors to work through. Some of the questions will be challenging our methodologies like working through our idea of verse by verse Bible teaching among peoples that do not have a Bible translated into their mother tongue. Other situations reveal the depth of sin like when one pastor asked, “What can we do when someone comes into the church with multiple wives?” He continued to ask if baptizing a polygamist is permissible.

A few generations ago God used the Calvary Chapel Movement, and others, to draw drugged and burned out hippies to Himself in what some have called a beautiful and unique work of the Spirit. There is still much work to be done, but it is my belief that God is again doing a grand supernatural move of His Spirit in reaching the final peoples very far from that original work. As I consider the churches and, Lord willing, future churches of our movement here in Africa, I praise Him that He is again using our movement in a mighty way. There was a day when barefooted hippies and surfers forced people back to the Book of Acts to define church. It is exciting to again go to the Bible to consider what the next generation of Calvary Chapel churches will look like among tribal peoples, urban slum dwellers, pastoralists and in dense African cities.


We wanted to give you a visual of our latest ReEngage intensive that happened in Nairobi, Kenya on October 18. Pastors Ed Compean (Calvary Chapel Githurai) and Bruze Zachary (Calvary Nexus) led the intensive. The turn out was great and God moved in a powerful way as they sought to train up more church planters and equip mentors. Here’s a look at our Kenya intensive…