Through our lives, Jesus is showing the world the kind of king he is and the nature of the kingdom he rules. As his servants, we point forward with our acts of service to a far better world where Jesus’s rule will be experienced everywhere. Every one we serve experiences a taste of life in the kingdom.
Jeff Vanderstelt in Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life
>> Check out my Previous post about Saturate.
In the book Small is Big Slow is Fast: Living and Leading Your Family and Community on God’s Mission, Ceasar Kalinowski paints a picture of the kingdom of God that makes you believe anybody can be a part of expanding it. That’s the belief we need to go viral in the church today if we’re going to see a movement of evangelism & discipleship in North America, so I want to highly recommend this book to you. The book challenges popular notions that have slowed multiplication including church has to be made up of big crowds & buildings to be real, discipleship should be scheduled in the midst of the busyness of everyday life, & only a few highly trained people should develop the skills to lead churches. Here’s a few of my favorite quotes:
- A disciple is someone who has reoriented his or her life around another to become, in essence, who that person is.
- We don’t live on mission because we are supposed to. It is our birthright. We get to do this.
- We will never lead another group of friends or anyone else father and deeper into discipleship and mission than our own family.
- If we are not careful, we can end up being the nicest, friendliest people in the neighborhood but fail to lead anyone one step closer to walking in the ways of Jesus.
- multiplication doesn’t just happen accidentally. Everything we do must be intentionally simple, scalable, and reproducible.
- the secret to increasingly living our lives together on God’s mission is to move away from seeing discipleship as something that needs to be tacked onto an already busy schedule, toward seeing all the normal stuff of life as full of opportunity for discipleship and growth in the gospel.
- This is not a call to life plus mission, rather, it is a call to life on mission.
- When looking to develop leaders, we initially have to identify who wants to lead. We do this by looking at who is ready first to be a follower.
- Some days are packed with very obvious kingdom activity, while others feel like nothing special… until you look back.
- Not everything happens as quickly as or in the way we want it to. People drop off the radar and out of community. This is messy stuff! On this journey, you must trust that God is filling your lives with opportunities for discipleship and kingdom expansion every day. Some you will notice; others you may not.
- Do we need to have larger gatherings… No. But you get to.
- Our identity is found in Christ, not the frequency of size of our gatherings.
- The mission of the church is discipleship, not creating church services.
The book also includes a very helpful chapter outlining what life on mission may look like in the typical week & a great appendix outlining the first 3 years or so of steps to launching a missional community movement, as well as a great list of tools & resources for multiplication of groups. Great resource for anyone looking to simply multiply & bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
Small churches don’t get a lot of airtime, even though they are the rule & not the exception across the globe (90% of churches have less than 100 adults in attendance on any given weekend), so I enjoyed Outreach Magazine‘s annual trek into Small Church America in their July/August 2014 issue. Check out a few of my big takeaways that may surprise or encourage you. And make you think.
- “The size of a church does not determine its health, but a church’s health can determine its size.” – Ed Stetzer, Lifeway Research, EdStetzer.com.
- “A small church measures success by how faithful they have been with what God has given them.” Dave Jacobs, SmallChurchPastor.com.
- “The average church attracts fewer than 90 adults on a typical weekend. 60% of protestant churches have 100 or adults on a typical weekend. Just 2% of churches attract more than 1,000 adults on a typical weekend.” – Barna
- “We need to be content with who we are, but never content with staying where we are.” Karl Vaters in the Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking that Divides Us (New Small Church, 2012).
- “Bloom where you’re planted. Instead of trying to be what you are not, know what you do well and do it well.” – Jim Thomas, SmallChurch.com.
- “What drives us? Spotlight and recognition? Influence over 1,000’s? Power that comes with a title? Or would we be content with a downward movement of faithful servanthood, even if it meant obscurity?” – JR Briggs in Fail: Finding Hope & Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure, IVP, 2014.
- “Churches of 200 or less are four times more likely to plant a daughter church than churches of 1,000 or more. The smaller the size of the church the more fertile they are in planting churches.” – Lifeway
- “The number of evangelicals has not boomed. We have just become more centralized in fewer, larger churches that produce better Sunday performances.” – John S. Dickerson in The Great Evangelical Recession, Baker Books, 2013.
- “Since the Day of Pentecost, innovative small churches have been the way the majority of Christians have done church.” – Karl Vater, NewSmallChurch.com.
- “local engagement – the engagement with our local neighborhoods, villages, towns is harder and harder the bigger and bigger you get.” – David Fitch
- “The growth rate of churches decreased with increasing size…” – Christian Schwartz in Natural Church Development.
Biggest takeaway – “No matter the size, age or denomination of our churches, there’s one question we should all be asking… Where do we grow from here?” Bobby Gruenwald.
I personally believe that small church or big church should not be our motive or goal or badge of honor. God’s glory & the soul’s of men should be the goal. Be encouraged where you are & work hard for God’s glory & the souls of men.
Lottie Moon served as a Missionary to China in the late 1800’s. The Southern Baptist Convention missions offering that was named after her has raised over $2.8 billion since it began. She could have been easily forgotten, because after a long & difficult missionary career, she died on a ship near Japan, without the money to even get herself back home to the states. But she lives on as an example of courage & gospel fervency. Here’s a few great quotes:
- “I do not believe that any trouble comes upon us unless it is needed, and it seems to me that we ought to be just as thankful for sorrow as for joys.”
- “The harvest is very great, the laborers, oh! so few. Why does the Southern Baptist church lag behind in this great work? …a young man should ask himself not if it is his duty to go to the heathen, but if he may dare stay at home. The command is so plain: ‘Go.'”
- “The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent. It is grievous to think of these human souls going down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus.”
- “It fills one with sorrow to see these people so earnest in their worship of false gods… Then to remember the wealth hoarded in Christian coffers! … Should we not press it home upon our consciences that the sole object of our conversion was not the salvation of our own souls, but that we might become co-workers with our Lord and Master in conversion of the world?
- “I have a firm conviction that I am immortal ’til my work is done.”
Found written in the fly leaf of her Bible after her death:
- “O, that I could consecrate myself, soul and body, to his service forever; O, that I could give myself up to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own or to have any will or affection improper for those conformed to him.”
For more info on the life of Lottie Moon, pick up Danny Akin’s short book 10 Who Changed the World.