Are you a leader whose decisions affect the fruitfulness of many workers? If so, then today’s challenge for you may be the evidence pouring in from all over the world that proves what happens when workers heed certain New Testament guidelines. Churches multiply rapidly, inexpensively and with little or no ongoing help from Western missionaries.
Has God placed you where, as a leader, you will decide between mediocrity and a vigorous church planting movement? Then you should know that church planting movements, including those in the West, do not necessarily require much money, higher educational degrees, or forcing older churches to change. This is how you can see churches multiply:
First: Discern fields that God has ripened for harvest, as Jesus said. Jesus taught his disciples not to waste time trying to push camels through the needle’s eye focusing instead on folk who are content with what they have. I too have had to shake the dust from my feet as Jesus said, leaving societies that rejected Jesus.
Second: Start the kind of churches that multiply readily. If you work with conventional churches, then you probably know members who yearn to do more for Jesus but find no vital positions open in their church. Many church leaders resist these types because they seem too eager to change things. Rather than mistrust them, release them to launch a “second track,” like Peter started in Cornelius’ home.
In a second track…
- Prolific churches retain your organization’s doctrine and identity, but require only activities that Jesus and his apostles required.
- Workers follow New Testament guidelines for church life, obeying the explicit commands of Christ before all else.
- Believers reach friends for Jesus, meeting in their homes, as in the New Testament era.
- Church plants are simple and seldom budgeted; are tiny, healthy flocks that keep multiplying steadily, not just a temporary revival.
- Gatherings are kept small to maintain the intense interaction required by the New Testament; all believers serve one another with their different spiritual gifts, not just teaching.
- Shepherds mentor newer shepherds, training them as Jesus and his apostles did.
- Trainers choose training curriculum that fits local, current conditions.
- Unpaid volunteers do most of the work.
- The difficulty for some leaders to launch a second track is what they must give up.
As for myself, I had to stop positioning myself in power at others’ expense, and resisting needed change for fear of discord. Fear of friction stifles initiative and is futile; no significant advance in Christ’s kingdom has come without painful friction. Every leader I’ve mentored who has started a significant movement has endured criticism from others who failed to see such fruit. Some leaders must stop marketing services or products and simply do what multiplies churches. Some leaders must cease excusing failure by saying that churches that multiply rapidly are always doctrinally weak. Some churches in infancy are as conventional churches in pioneer fields, but they grow if leaders mentor newer leaders as Paul did, so that the training moves along with the cutting edge of the movement.