A post on the direction of the church from pastor Jonathan.
While we were in the thick of replanting Reservoir Church I would regularly get questions about the vision for the church and where we were headed. It is an important question but one difficult to answer because those asking usually have their own vision in mind. Over and over again the elders have said we desire to see a healthy church built that equips its members for ministry and to eventually be a planting church. Each of us are gifted by the Spirit for the good of the church and we long to see people stand up and use their gifts as we disciple them.
To become a planting church however will require that multiplication become part of our DNA. There is a vast spectrum of views on what it means to be a planting church. Like Grace Church of North County it might mean sending a portion of the church to form a new congregation in a different part of the city. It might also mean training up couples to be planters sent further away. And it might mean financially supporting church planting around the world. All of these though require sacrifice and a heart motivated for multiplication
Alan Frow, pastor of Southlands in Brea, has written a new book on multiplication and how even medium-sized or small churches can walk it out. He has shared portions of the book on his blog that is worth your time. And I would like to share some key quotes here.
We have never felt that we’ve had enough resources to feed the crowds but we’ve wanted to be involved in Jesus’ feeding miracle. We know that ultimately Jesus, not our churches, is the Bread of Life. And yet we believe that planting churches is the most effective distribution system to get the Bread of Life to hungry people. So we’ve said, “Lord, we are putting our bread in Your hands, even though it’s not that much. Take it, break it and multiply it for the sake of others.” It has been stunning to see many hungry souls fed with the Bread of Life because of this…
As a small church we never feel like we have the resources for anything! But we too want to be involved in the expansion of worship of Jesus so we are learning to give our lives away for his glory.
The truth is that there can be no multiplication without subtraction, and multiplication feels like subtraction for quite some time before Jesus restores the margins of our resources. The gap between subtraction and restoration can threaten the life of a sending church. I don’t know about you, but I like resource margins. Yet multiplication means Jesus invades those margins of finances, leaders, volunteers and energy. We find ourselves feeling empty and used in the process, even though there is joy in seeing people nourished with the Bread of Life in a new place. We feel the pain of subtraction amidst the joy of multiplication.
There is risk involved but this is where the Lord works, it keeps us desperate for him and that is a good thing.
When we surrender our resources to Jesus to be broken and multiplied we can be sure He will restore them abundantly, but we are also surrendering the form in which they are restored to us.
The call to be a multiplying church is a costly one whether you are small, medium or large, but it will help your church to avoid self-preservation and self-promotion, as well as passivity.
Ultimately, the call to be a multiplying church will involve you in the faith adventure of seeing your resources multiplied for the sake of others’ blessing.
We are poised as a church for this faith adventure, it won’t be easy, but it will be good because it is what we are built for. This is the mission of the church.
Multiplication will mean we are more interested in kingdom priorities over personal programs. It might mean doing church in ways we are not used to. But I am increasingly convinced this is what the Lord desires for us. This is also one of the reasons we are planning to partner with Advance, a church strengthening and planting movement that understands multiplication and lives it out in all of its churches.
Let’s take this journey together. How might your gifts be multiplied or used for multiplication in the church? How can you step up and serve the kingdom? Are you ready for a faith adventure?