The Nineveh Project
This week I am in Los Angeles, CA at meetings with about 30 church planters and leaders from all over the US. We have people here from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and California. The purpose of the time is to focus on what church planting is and how healthy church planting takes place.
I thought it might be encouraging to many of you to see the notes I’ve been taking. They’re not meant to be complete or necessarily connected thoughts. But some of the things that are being said are really challenging. If any of them piques your interest and makes you ask questions, give me a call or email me so we can dialog about it!
Session 1, Monday Night
The Driving Motive behind Church Planting
The driving motivation for church planting flows from God’s love and grace for those who need a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
(Luke 15:1-7 ESV)
Jesus’ entire life and ministry is reflected in this parable. Most Christians today think that Paul was the first church planter. But actually, Jesus was the first “church planter.” Jesus told Peter it was upon a faith like his that he (Jesus) would build his church.
Focus on the right numbers. What would you do if 1% of your church were to wander off? What number really matters to you? How many people from your church are involved in a discipleship process? How many churches has your church planted? The good shepherd in the story discovers that one single sheep out of 100 has wandered off. His first impulse is to go and search for it. Do we let people simply wander in and out of our churches?
Book Title: The American Church in Crisis, by David Olson.
Venture into the right places.
What places are you venturing into in order to bring the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ? Where is the center and focus of our ministry? Disciple-making ministry is not about getting people to come to church, but in taking the message of Jesus Christ to the people.
Neal Cole, in Web Evangelism Bulletin, April, 2011: “If you want to win people and the world to Christ, you’re going to have to sit in the smoking section.”
Restore people in the right way.
The shepherd finds the stupid, stubborn sheep and joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. We have every reason to be angry with sheep who stray. Our anger though would be against them because they had done something to us. That makes the correction about the shepherd, not the sheep. A good shepherd finds the sheep and is overjoyed because he can now save the sheep from ravening wolves and other predators. He rejoices because he knows what the sheep has been saved from.
Find joy in the right things.
There are a lot of things we don’t know about heaven, but one thing we do know is that when ONE sinner repents, there is great rejoicing in heaven. Our large stadium events (sports, concerts, or religious gatherings) are only a small fraction of the cheering and wild rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents.
In the 1980s there was a surge of church planting across the US. Peter Wagner said, “The single most effective move of the Spirit of God is church planting.” It is easier to bring a baby into the world than to raise the dead. New churches with 100 people in them are 16 times more effective at winning new people to Christ than mega-churches are.
The CCCC has joined other Christians in our nation in making extraordinary followers of Jesus through a church planting movement that raises up new churches that love God, love others, and make disciples.
“The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference has joined other Christians in our nation in making extraordinary followers of Jesus through a church planting movement that raises up new churches that love God, love others and make disciples.
We believe that by the year 2020 over one-half of the member churches in the Conference will be healthy reproducing churches started by the CCCC in the 21st Century. A majority of these new churches will be planted in major metropolitan areas and will reach people from every generation and ethnic group. They will be diverse in their approach to ministry representing various expressions of the movement of the Spirit in the local church.
We believe that other churches will be born in rural and suburban settings as daughter churches of existing CCCC member churches that have rediscovered their mission to make disciples and impact their communities. We envision that every CCCC church will know the joy of birthing one or more daughter churches."
--CCCC Church Multiplication Vision Statement, 2010