Obedient to God’s Vision
I have a dream. I have always thought it important to have one as a leader, and I was taught in my classes on church growth that having a God-sized vision was the determining factor on whether a Christian leader was successful or not.
I still agree. But the key word there is “God,” not “I.” The key concept is that HIS vision matters, not my or someone else’s interpretation of it.
My dream is to be the pastor of a church that is “mega” in size and influence. The American Church growth model revolves around that idea—that a large and growing church is a successful church and the local church—and its satellite locations—is the know-all and end-all of this model.
Sometimes, a large and growing local church, cool and attractive and fast-growing—is exactly God’s vision for a certain place and time. But God has a different vision for us, and it has taken me a looooong time to grasp it.
It is not like He hasn’t told us in prophetic words. For years, the Lord has talked about “many small fires” when explaining revival in the Upper Cumberland. For years He has reminded us of being a “Lighthouse” Church. Lighthouses are critically important for navigating safely, but they are not a place in and of themselves that draw huge numbers of people. He has told us we are an Eastern Gate Church. Gates open and close, but they are not meant to be a dwelling place… He has called us an Antioch Church. Antioch was famous as a hub that equipped and sent, not as a magnet that drew and grew…
I have come to believe—with all my heart—that God’s vision for us hasn’t changed, but we have been changed by His vision for us. I know I have!
I have come to believe—with all my heart—that His vision for us is to plant dozens…hundreds…even thousands of churches in the most rural and neglected places in our region of the nation—Appalachia.
Can a church of two-hundred pull it off? Antioch did, and likely, they had less than 200. Can we afford it? If our currency is GRACE rather than CASH, we have all we will ever need in Jesus!
What does it mean when we have helped to plant 10 churches with an average attendance of only 30? Than suddenly our church of 200 has an impact of 500 souls—souls that are primarily won to Christ rather than borrowed from other congregations. In addition, there are 10 more pastors, several more worship leaders, and dozens of folks raised up to be elders and teachers.
What does it mean once we have planted 100 churches, even if they only average 30 apiece? 3200 hundred souls, 100 or more new pastors and worship leaders, and hundreds of people raised up to lead.
The American Church model is based around marketplace efficiency—less pastors, less leaders, less worship leaders, and lower cost. Money is spent on facilities, not in raising up people to Kingdom authority. God has a different economy. He is looking for many, many workers because the harvest is plentiful. He wants to raise up people into places of authority and leadership—not eliminate their jobs!
What about 1000 churches…? You get the math. God multiplies, even while the world divides and eliminates. We may never be a church of more than 200 in a town of 3500. But if we can help raise up hundreds of pastors who lead thousands of souls to Jesus, then we have become “mega” in Father’s eyes—we have been obedient to His vision. That excites me. It humbles me. And it has changed my whole understanding of success…!