Imagine flying hundreds of miles across snow covered mountains and glaciers in a small bush plane, then landing on a gravel airstrip in a native village. An average village will have between 100 and 300 residents living isolated from the city and many of its comforts. These villages are known to have astronomical alcoholism, suicide and abuse rates. Many villages today still have no functioning church, no pastor, no Biblical teaching and no one to turn to in times of need.
You might wonder why the believers in these villages do not just go to a nearby town or city that has a church. The problem is that these small communities are “off the road system” and have no roads connecting them to the outside world. The nearest town or village with a church could be many miles away. In addition, these villages are only accessible by small aircraft, and many times weather and logistics can affect scheduled air travel.
Each of these native villages are filled with people in need of the Savior. Would you be willing to live in a cold and isolated environment to plant a church in a community that has no Christian influence? Maybe you would like to pastor an existing church that is currently sitting empty. Villages are in desperate need of Biblical counselors and Christian leaders! God may be calling you to a beautiful people in need of the hope that only Christ can give.
Church planting is not about erecting steeples or even building church buildings, it’s about building relationships and loving God’s people. At AVM we define a church as a body of believers, not as a structure made of wood, nails and concrete. Church planting is a process, not a one time event. Planting churches in the villages of Alaska looks different and takes much longer than a similar task in urban America. The native people are cautious of new comers and they need time to get to know and trust those wanting to minister to them. Villages in Alaska are considered “closed” and Christian workers need to be invited in by residents of the village. Church planters and pastors in rural Alaska need to be willing to commit years to a village in order to establish lasting churches. With these facts in mind, AVM takes a seven step approach to church planting.
Step 1: Spiritual Preparation (Prayer and Discernment)
Step 2: Building Relationships (Vacation Bible School, Ministry Teams)
Step 3: Church Planter Provision (Calling, Training, Allocation)
Step 4: Deepening Relationships (Living and Pastoring)
Step 5: Church Development (Style, Structure, Maturity)
Step 6: Indigenous Leadership (Training, Discipling, Empowering)
Step 7: Handover (Watching, Encouraging, Supporting)
Alaska Village Missions believes in planting the indigenous church. This means that we want to establish churches that are lead by native Alaskans and also fit into their cultural backgrounds. The villages need churches that they can call their own and at the same time honor God and abide by His Biblical principles. In order to accomplish this goal, AVM is dedicated to raising up, training and empowering native leadership. Local leadership is a main key to the successful, long lasting village church.
AVM representatives host special programs in villages across Alaska. These short-term programs may include ministry teams from churches all across the lower 48 states and urban Alaska. Special programs include Vacation Bible School, Ladies Retreats, Worship Teams, Prayer Teams and Work Project Groups. Alaska Bible Institute instructors also enjoy the opportunity to hold “Bible School” in the villages. These intensive times of Bible instruction might be on topics such as the book of Romans, Christian Living or an Old Testament Survey. If your village is interested in our Special Programs, feel free to contact us for more information.
Pastoral care, Biblical counseling and someone willing to listen is important to all believers. This same need is present in Alaska and its villages. Several villages in remote Alaska have a church body and many even have a church building sitting empty ready for services. AVM is committed to helping these churches become established and providing a pastor is a great first step. Does your village church need a pastor? Let us know your needs and we will do our best connect you with an AVM pastor.