A) “Whatever town or village you enter, search out the needs of the people with surveys and research, and then develop services, programs, and facilities to meet those needs.” B) “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave....If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” C) “Whatever town or village you enter, win the city for Christ, boldly declaring your mission statement, getting involved in politics and civic groups, and trying to persuade everyone to live according to your moral code and to believe exactly the way you do.” (For help, see Matt. 10:11-15)
Many modern-day church planters and church growth experts spend countless hours and millions of dollars on surveys, research, and ad campaigns to build churches that put on compelling performances and run programs that meet the felt needs of the community. But is that Biblical church? Is that what Jesus told his disciples to do when he sent them out to do ministry in His name? Is that what the Apostle Paul told Timothy, Titus, and the others to do? Is that the Biblical pattern for church planting and church growth?
The obvious answer is, “No, that is not what they did. Jesus told his followers to go out and proclaim the kingdom of God and make disciples. Paul and other New Testament writers say that we are to preach the Good News of Jesus, his sacrificial death and resurrection, and take the truths of Scripture and pass them on to good people who can then take them to others. The Biblical pattern is one of proclaiming Jesus through discipling relationships.”
Think about that for a minute or two. What is the emphasis of your local church? What are its goals and purposes? Is the proclamation of Jesus and the nurturing of discipling relationships foremost? Or is it more important to get people to attend certain services or support worthy programs? Is the focus upon adding people to the congregation through attracting them to services and programs or is it upon multiplying believers by teaching them to share their faith and build redemptive relationships?
As many other authors have pointed out, multiplication of believers is the path to true church growth. Adding people by attracting them to services and programs tends to boost numbers in the short-term but often falls short in bringing people to maturity. Think about these things and ask the Lord how to apply them to your life, church, and ministry.
And, while you are thinking about your life and ministry, don't feel bad if some people didn't respond positively to the Good News of Jesus. Many will reject Him and His message through you. Jesus told his disciples this several times and they were to simply move on and find some good people who would receive the Message with joy and thanksgiving. The disciples were to then spend time with them teaching them the things that they had learned from Jesus.
"Bringing it all together, then, don't let your ministry focus be upon numerical growth, finances, buildings, or programs. Focus instead on being like Jesus, loving people and loving God, and nurturing redemptive relationships that bring people to Christ and continued growth in Him"
The plan and message were quite simple but somehow over the centuries we have gotten it wrong. We think that we should be able to go into a new area and “win the city for Christ.” We think everyone should accept the Good News and join our church, and when they don't we are disappointed and feel like failures. We think everyone should adopt the moral code that we believe in, and when people don’t agree with us, we can become judgmental and bitter.
The way to escape this trap is to avoid it in the first place. Understand that many people rejected Jesus and His message and many will reject you as well. Don't set lofty goals of winning everyone you meet to Jesus or establishing a Christian moral code that everyone must follow. Instead, be like Jesus and love everyone you meet regardless of their faith or morals. Invite people to follow Jesus, rejoicing when they do and crying for them when they don't.
Bringing it all together, then, don't let your ministry focus be upon numerical growth, finances, buildings, or programs. Focus instead on being like Jesus, loving people and loving God, and nurturing redemptive relationships that bring people to Christ and continued growth in Him. Don't set lofty goals or create expectations that will make you and others be driven to achieve in your own power. Instead, spend time drawing near to God and being led of the Spirit as to what you will do each day or accomplish in each season of life.
When God's agenda becomes your agenda instead of you trying to make it work the other way around, you will find great joy and satisfaction in serving God without carrying the baggage of your own unmet expectations and lofty aspirations. You will finally be content as you look forward to that day when Jesus looks you in the eye and says, “Well done, loyal and faithful servant.”
Let's Pray Together: Lord, I long for that day when You say to me, “Well done...” For now, though, and for as many days as You give me on this earth, help me to focus not on man-made goals but upon being like You and loving people like You did. Help me to focus on building relationships rather than building numbers, programs, or facilities. All that stuff is great, but it is just stuff. I want to focus on what is really important, on being like You and leading people to grow in You by spending time with them. Teach me how to be intentional and purposeful as I nurture redemptive discipling relationships. Show me who to spend time with and how I can make this work in my life. I love you, Lord, and want to please You and You alone. Lead me now as I pray...(continue praying as you are led)
Real Life Testimonies and Examples: What is Simple Church -- Video by Charles Kridiotis that explains how the Simple Church model empowers people to live out the priesthood of all believers concept and makes missional objectives such as multiplying disciples more obtainable. The growth of the Simple Church movement in Europe is discussed as well.
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