I’ve been in church 47 years. I’ve heard a lot of sermons about evangelism. But I don’t have a single example of even one of the churches I’ve been in actively and intentionally starting a new church or a new work to reach others for Christ. Do you find that odd? I do.
From what I see in scripture, the church is supposed to be motivated to reach others by continually going out and starting new works. We just don’t do it. We talk about it a lot. We rationalize how we are doing it and make some pretty large leaps. (“We have a food closet, so that’s outreach, right? We have our messages online. That counts.”) We even have training classes about how to reach out. But if we are honest, I think our motivation is more about building the attendance at our own churches than it is about growing the kingdom of God. We’re preaching. We’re just not going.
One of my favorite senior pastors was Arthur Evans Gay. I just loved the way he lived the gospel. I remember hearing him standing by the front doors to the church talking to a family that had driven 35 miles to our church. I was impressed by how he welcomed them and then told them of a great church in their community they should try. He told them how they could have a greater impact in their community by plugging into their local church. I don’t think he ever thought of them as a potential “giving unit” or a solid family that could strengthen his church. He saw them as a family of believers that could have a greater impact for Jesus if they plugged in at home. That’s a kingdom mindset.
We buy gimmicky evangicubes and frisbees with scripture on them and train our kids how to “share” their faith. Aren’t we actually training them more to make a sales pitch than really share anything? We send out direct mailings, advertise on Christian radio and promote events to bring people in. Didn’t Jesus tell us to go and get them? It seems pretty strange to me.
Forty-seven years and not a single example of a risk-taking church intentionally penetrating a nearby area by planting the gospel. Do you have any examples in your past?
As a church planter now, I am committed to make going part of our DNA. My dream is to see us plant another church in three years. Then, three years from then, each church should plant another. Three more years … each of those 4 plant again. Three more … 8 plants. That would mean 16 churches in 12 years. 32 in 15 years. Some will not make it but nearly 70% will. Neighborhood churches, schools, home churches. If each church just has 30 people we will have over 1,000 people growing in Christ and sharing life. If each church is just an average American church it will mean more than 2000 people.
The mission of Jesus Christ must become viral. Unfortunately I don’t think we even have a sniffle. Our measure of success has to move away from numbers, buildings and budgets to living out the Great Commission by starting new works and advancing the gospel.
I have had 10 pastors in my 47 years. Not one of them actively promoted planting an entirely new work to reach unreached people. Not one of them challenged their people to give birth to a gospel station.
It’s time for that to change. It’s time for us pastors to release our grip, step away from feeling threatened and do all we can to see the spread of the gospel in new churches. It’s time to model the Great Commission for our congregations.
Nothing else—neither crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, mega-churches, consulting, nor church renewal processes— will have the consistent impact that dynamic, extensive church planting has. This is an eyebrow raising statement, I know. But to those who have done any study of the subject, it is not even controversial.” -Tim Keller, The Cutting Edge Magazine
TheKing’s comments reminded me of that Steve Camp song, “Hell Is Burning While The Church Sleeps.” We have a job to do. But what are we doing? ZZZzzz…
I agree with all you are saying here Scott but, IMO there is a bigger thing going on with regards to what the Church is NOT doing today.
Plain and simple: the imminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Oh sure, there are vague “when Jesus returns” mentions but, I see no churches in New England getting excited for the King’s Return for His Church!
Immanency is important in that it keeps us ever watchful. Our lamps filled with oil. Looking up for our redemption draweth nigh. Living Godly lives lest we are caught unaware. I see the church asleep. I have tried talking with every church pastor I could but, they dismiss this. You would be amazed at how many Christians have told me “that’s scary!” about Christ returning for His church. That is the truth believe it or not. They are “afraid” He would come back so, in essence, they close their ears. Amazing.
When you begin to preach a message that Jesus is indeed coming back, very soon, then people get Saved. The signs are all around us. Prophecy s being fulfilled on an almost daily message. The church? Asleep for the most part.
I would urge you to pray about this. Think about it, don’t you think the devil doesn’t want Christians to cling to the promise that He will return for His Bride,the Church? He is shutting up churches and hence, churches are folding. Getting their ears tickled seems to be Number One to most of them nowadays sadly.
Shouldn’t it be every Christian’s desire to meet His Lord and Savior? Sadly, nobody seems interested that we are THIS close to Him coming back. Will we be ready for Him? Or will He find us asleep?
All part of why Scripture commands us time and again to go. If we lived like Jesus were returning and that people are lost, I would expect we would be compelled to preach the Good News.
Sounds Organic. Perhaps the times they are a-changing.
The church, as a living organism, is organic. While some use the label to mean “without structure,” it is clear that structure is involved. While Frank Viola and others have linked “organic” to the house church movement, I tend to favor Ed Stetzer who advocates many different models. His counsel to hold our models loosely and our Jesus firmly is right on. In 2009, more than 3000 churches were started in comparison to 2500 that closed. My prayer is that times are changing and that bodies will become intentional in advancing the gospel. While more were started another 2000 were needed to even match population growth. Lord, send us…