Most churches are trying to preserve what they have. Trying to avoid losing ground too quickly. Even though they know that continuing to do what they’ve been doing is not going to get them to where they need to go! They keep trying to marshal the energies to maintain.
(I did this in our multi-campus ministry years ago. One campus was growing rapidly. The other was caught in the crossfire of urban warfare. I was so committed to maintain doing what we’d started doing at both locations that I didn’t dare admit to myself or to our people that we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing. Until Gail and a couple of respected people in my life said: Stop! This is insanity. Something needs to change.)
So, I get the instinct. Keep your head down. Don’t stop to catch your breath.
- Maintaining is great in a stable environment.
- Maintaining is great when things are great.
- Maintaining is great when you’re not concerned with becoming increasingly out of step and antiquated.
Can anyone imagine…
- Barnabas coming to Saul (Paul) about “the hand of the Lord” upon the church in Antioch? “Paul… let’s see if they can just maintain status quo” Acts 11:19ff
- Paul saying to the elders on the beach at Ephesus: “See what you can do to maintain.” Acts 20:16ff
- Peter to Cornelius: “Cornelius, here’s how we’ll maintain.” Acts 10
- Jesus in the Great StayMission: “Stay and maintain disciples.” Matthew 28:19
PLI believes the future of the church looks a lot more like the first few centuries than the last few decades.
So… what if you focused and started praying for a team of two (Luke 10) or more that you could release from some of their church duties and ask them to become missionary pioneers? Pray for…
- People who love the Lord.
- People who long for vibrant change.
- People who already have relationships with unbelieving people.
- People who can learn to trust God in uncertain places.
Promise to get them some training and a community in which to learn and be encouraged. A community that will celebrate attempts and not punish disappointments.
Here’s a great example of a church in the middle of Illinois that’s doing this well. A group of 70- and 80-year-olds that heard about 1000 Young Leaders and identified two gifted, godly young women and said:
- We believe in you.
- We need you to help reach the generation we’re not reaching.
- We want to help invest in you.
- We’ll pray for you and help pay for you.
These two 1000 Young Leaders report:
- Every week they ask us how we’re doing.
- They remind us that they’re praying for us.
- They ask us about our assignment for this week.
- They ask us if we’ve hosted another party with our unbelieving friends. They’re great.
So, don’t limit yourself necessarily to a young leader. A few weeks ago, Marv in a learning community said: “What about us not so young leaders? I’m 70 years old and I have every confidence that God has big things in front of me!”
Now, if you take up the challenge to pray for laborers for the harvest, let us know about it. Let us join in praying with you. And then…tell us who God raises up.
Shifting a congregational culture from trying to maintain as best we can to stepping out on the exciting edges and watching how God works in us and through us is no small endeavor!
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Please join us in welcoming Dave Ficken to the PLI team as North American Program Director. Dave has been actively involved in teaching and coaching in PLI’s Discipleship to Missional Community and 1000 Young Leaders over the last five years. He brings a keen understanding of engaging people outside the church and encouraging and discipling the baptized people of God to confidently join in the mission. You can welcome Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your church plans to be on the pioneering edge tomorrow, you’re going to be best served by having a comprehensive gift planning/estate planning program in your church today! Contact Teri for more information. For every dollar a church spends today in gift planning, it’s returned 100 times tomorrow! Don’t wait longer.