Ministry is an overflow of the heart. Therefore, who we are (abiding) is more important than what we do (service), because what we do flows out of who we are.
The results of abiding are fruitfulness and answered prayer.
"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts. 6:4
If an outsider watched us for one month, how would they describe us? Would they describe us as being “devoted to prayer”? If not, what needs to change in our priorities and our schedule?
It is easy to make plans and strategy and then ask God to bless them. Strategy isn’t wrong, but we should be devoted to prayer, not devoted to strategy. This way, God gets the glory instead of us or our strategy.
Prayer should BE our #1 strategy. There needs to be a gap between where our strategy & plans will take us and where we hope to go. This gap highlights our complete dependence on God to do the impossible.
One practical way to do this is by daily praying for harvesters. Set a phone to alarm daily at 9:38. My reminder says “Pray for harvesters” as a simple way to fulfill Jesus’ command in Matt. 9:38: “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Each day I pray 3 things:
- That God would make me, my family and other Christians to be better harvesters
- That God would raise up local harvesters in the countries we serve
- That God would send more harvesters to serve on the mission field
Church planting movements start with prayer movements.
In order to have the opportunity to share our hope in the gospel, we need to be intentionally building relationships with unbelievers. We need to reach people where they are. The vast majority of people in post Christian Europe are not going to come to church to hear the gospel, we need to go to them.
But here’s the problem: as church members get heavily involved in church life & programs, their circle of unsaved friends shrinks. Their available time also shrinks. We need to encourage people to find ways to stay connected to the lost. Encourage people to connect with others using their existing interests: running clubs, singing clubs, music groups, gyms, martial arts classes, motorcycle clubs, surfing, hiking, etc. Find an activity that can be done with unsaved people and connect with them. This may mean cutting church programs or changing the service time to enable church members to have the time & energy to engage the lost.
Jesus was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. Luke 7:34 Are we?
Do we encourage and equip and give time for our church members to connect with the lost?
We should always be trying to get to the gospel. Infuse the gospel in all our interactions and look for opportunities to go deeper. Look for ways that we can bring people one step closer to God.
"always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” 1 Pet. 3:15
“Discipleship is not about information. It is about transformation. The end result of discipleship is not knowledge but obedience. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything.” Not JUST teaching them everything.” (Simple Church)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
We must equip disciples to multiply. We are to "make disciples", not church goers. When church goers become disciples, movements happen. Teach people to study, apply and share the Word using simple, reproducible material and methods that can multiply.
How did Jesus multiply? He invested deeply in a few and widely in many. The ones he invested most deeply in were best equipped to multiply.
Can our disciples multiply? Are they multiplying?
"equip the saints for the work of ministry” Eph. 4:12
Leaders grow by doing life with those that are mentoring them. This goes beyond a training program. It involves learning from watching our life. To be an example, we need to spend time with those we want to grow.
“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord” 1 Thessalonians 1:6
Mentoring puts in. Coaching draws out. Mentoring uses “telling” to put information in. Coaching uses questions to draw out desires and aspirations. Questions also help people learn how to think and find the answers they need instead of depending on you. This will make them stronger and better leaders.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
What will help leaders grow in their effectiveness? In addition to training, they need opportunities to lead and learn by practice alongside us.
“and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
SIDE NOTE: As a mission, our goal is to see churches planted. Even if you are not a church planter, you are part of a team that is working together to make that happen. We are grateful for every part of the body that God is using. Don’t ever feel like a second class missionary if your primary ministry is a support role or a mom who is busy with kids.
“God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” Heb. 6:10
We simplify to multiply. This is done by removing barriers or hindrances to multiplication.
We simplify by using reproducible models/materials, limiting outside resources, and focusing on people instead of programs. Multiplication needs to be built into the DNA of the church. One of the best ways to do this is by using church planting models that stay simple enough so that the church members can visualize planting another church or understand that it is ok to start simple. If we want to multiply, our meeting space, leadership training, evangelism and discipleship materials & methods need to be simple enough to reproduce. In everything we do we should ask: “Does this help or hinder multiplication?” Or “Is this simple enough to multiply to the 4th generation?”
Simple does not mean shallow. We need to go deep with our disciples, leaders & churches. But the process & tools we use should be simple enough to reproduce.
“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” Acts 9:31
We can do more together. As we look around the world at places where there are church planting movements, it is often in the context of networking & collaboration. Collaboration is more than fellowship. It is a group of people that are intentionally coming together with a shared vision and goal of planting churches.
The term Church Planting Movements is typically used to describe a rapid movement of churches that plant other churches. These often have a single line of multiplication where one church multiplies a church that multiplies a church to at least the 4th generation.
In more developed countries, it often happens a little differently. Collaboration is especially necessary in more developed or western countries with more infrastructure. This is why ABWE has started including the phrase Church Multiplication Network to describe a different way movements happen. The church planting it is typically not one church that plants another church who then plants another church and onwards. It is usually two or three churches who couldn’t plant a church by themselves, but they do it together. It is a group of churches who encourage one another, hold each other accountable, share people and resources and coach one another towards church planting. It is done through collaboration; an incredible way to display the body of Christ in action.
Collaboration is broader than Partnership. You wouldn’t plant a church with everyone that you collaborate with. Collaboration is being able to celebrate the gospel going out, even if we don’t do everything the same way.
Even if we may not be able to plant a church with someone:
-Could we pray with them?
-Could we encourage each other?
-Could we find ways to uplift and strengthen each other so that we unite around the gospel?
This doesn’t mean we collaborate with everyone, but we could probably do more than we are.
Let’s rejoice and collaborate together to see the gospel go forward.
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” Phil. 1:18
Missions isn’t listed on this mountain, but here are 2 ways it happens:
1. As we challenge our disciples and churches to ask “Who Next”, God will call some of them to a different mountain, to a different people. When they go, they will multiply there.
2. Sometimes, God will simply move someone because of their job to a new mountain. When they go, they will be equipped to multiply.
I am challenging each of our teams to answer the following 2 questions:
1. What Next?
What is the next part of the mountain that God is leading us to focus on?
2. Who Next?
What individual or group is in need of a gospel light?
WHO do we need to pray and work towards being and bringing a gospel light to?
If you can answer “Who Next”, it also answers “Where Next”.
It could be “the people of ______ town”. Asking “who” keeps the focus on the PEOPLE we need to reach.