Big things happen, really big things, when there are enough small, collective things taking place.
We are not dreaming big enough. No, I’m not talking about how big each one of us can become, or how important each one of us can be, or how big of an organization or ministry each one of us can grow. That’s backwards. That turns God’s thing around. We always think God wants US to be BIG. He’s not into that. He’s into HIM being BIG.
God is the one doing something big, way bigger than any of us are yet seeing or dreaming.
But when we see that dream of His and it stirs us and motivates us to do our part with all of our heart, then we become one of the many that He collectively uses to do something big with. We become part of HIS BIG.
For sure, God is up to some BIG stuff: “My kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s BIG. “The oppressed set free, the downtrodden lifted.” That’s BIG. “The Gospel of the Kingdom proclaimed to every nation (ethnic group).” That’s BIG. “The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth.” That’s really big.
Are we dreaming that big?
I believe we need to dream BIG with God in order to step with our whole hearts into the small, but divinely orchestrated, part that is ours to play with all of our gusto. We are not small when we give our all to HIS BIG. We are not unimportant when we do our part in HIS BIG. We are needed more than ever to do all that He has called and gifted us to do with joy and passion so that His BIG collective purposes come to pass.
And, frankly, there’s nothing better than that!
God Might Be Preparing You For a Global Impact
Simple/organic church folk might be key to the army God is preparing for needed global impact.
Though progress is being made, some estimate there are still over 6,000 unreached people groups (out of 11,700 total people groups) in which less than 2% are believers. To live within such an unreached group means that it is highly likely you will live and die never hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here is a simple overview of unreached people groups worldwide along with the reminder that Jesus clearly said his target is ‘all nations’ meaning all people groups (‘ta ethne’).
So, why might simple/organic church folk be the very army that God is preparing for global impact?
1. Training is needed throughout the world in disciplemaking movements that lead to church planting movements so that these large groups of unreached people can be reached with the Gospel. While business/institutional models of church hinder these movements, simple/organic church folk understand the type of church gatherings that can help facilitate and release such movements. This understanding is needed throughout the world.
2. Simple/organic church folk understand that money is not needed for the church to grow and reproduce making it much easier for the Gospel to go forward. Furthermore, much money can be freed up from the west, through simple/organic church expressions to flow into unreached parts of the world.
3. Simple/organic church folk understand that the life of a Jesus follower is a 24/7 lifestyle rather than the passive attendance of church services. This means more vibrant, impactful disciples are made.
4. Simple/organic church folk are committed to hearing and following the voice of Jesus and none other. As we continue to tune our ears more and more to him, it is likely that his heart for ‘all peoples’ will motivate more and more people to reach beyond the comfort of their own people group and extend themselves to reach others.
5. Simple/organic church folk understand that the church is a going organism, not a come-and-sit event. Our mentality is to be involved with Jesus in his mission throughout the world. We live with a readiness to go where he sends!
Solitude and Listening
An excerpt from the Simple/House Church Revolution book:
Solitude and Listening
If I were to point to one great need for us, as God’s people, who desire to experience a deeper intimacy with God, it would be the need for more solitude out of which comes a more available listening heart. Henri Nouwen speaks to this:
Solitude is being with God and God alone. Is there any space for that in your life?
Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It's important because it's the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you "my beloved daughter," "my beloved son," "my beloved child." To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being...
Solitude is where spiritual ministry begins. That's where Jesus listened to God. That's where we listen to God.
Pressing In for More of God
The call for the church is to always press in to more of God even when this means letting go of the very forms and formulations that got us to where we are. We always want to settle down into the structures and rituals we have designed for ourselves—our religious ways—rather than go after a deeper relationship. This is a tendency and temptation that we must be aware of no matter where we are in our journey and no matter how non-traditional (or traditional) our church expressions currently are.
Ruth Burrows puts it this way:
I cannot understand a love that is not always wanting to know more of the beloved so that it may love the more. `Who are you, Lord?' should surely be the constant urging of our hearts. But is it so? It seems more likely that we are afraid to get to know more, as though if we did so our building would collapse. This is because we are putting our security not in the unfailing God but in our meagre conceptions of him, in the formulations, neat, satisfying, water-tight which we have contrived. Many of us see the church and the faith, as we call it, like an insulated, armoured, electrified carriage in which we can sit secure behind curtain windows as we hurtle through the dark forests. We don’t have to see the frightening forms outside, don’t have to see the abyss into which we might drop, don’t have to see the poor beggars and forsaken ones crying in the night. We can hurtle along safely to heaven. How different from the reality! `Do not think I have come to bring peace but a sword. I have come to cast fire on the earth.' The true experience of faith is more that of an assault on Everest with its effort, its perils, its frightening decisions.
Can we relate to holding to our religious buildings (figuratively speaking) in order to avoid the current adventure of stepping out and pressing deeper into the heart and adventure of walking with Jesus? Do we possess the courage to press on to all that He has for us when the ledge we have arrived on is quite comfortable indeed?
Just One Disciple This Year
We can hear stories of thousands of disciples multiplying thousands of more disciples and wonder how that relates to our own situation.
As someone who spends nearly an equal amount of time in Africa as in California, I understand this. In Africa we work with teams that are reaching, baptizing, and multiplying disciples—yes, thousands of people reached. But, in California, not so much.
But this brings to mind some thoughts:
- The key is that I take my place in the church that is ‘going’ rather than the church that is sitting/gathering regardless of what context I am in. By this I mean that my joy is to be able to influence another person to more wholeheartedly follow Jesus. This ‘going and discipling’ is the true shape of the church and it is where I find life even though I, personally, am not a typical evangelist.
- The speed in which disciples are made and reproduced is not really the issue. Jesus spoke of fruitfulness but never the speed of reproduction. The latter is not normally under my control.
- It only takes one disciple this year. The concept of disciples making disciples is so profound that we often miss it. I get to influence one other person toward becoming a wholehearted follower of Jesus. Such a lover of God will, inevitably, do the same. If ten people begin to do this in one year, and this good seed reproduces in like manner, do the math:
Year 1: 10 disciples
Year 2: 20 disciples
Year 3: 40 disciples
Year 4: 80 disciples
Year 5: 160 disciples
Year 6: 320 disciples
Year 7: 640 disciples
Year 8: 1,280 disciples
Year 9: 2,560 disciples
Year 10: 5,120 disciples (now the size of a large mega-church)
Year 11: 10,240 disciples
Year 12: 10,480 disciples
Year 13: 40,960 disciples
Year 14: 81,920 disciples
Year 15: 163,840 disciples
By year 20: over 5 million disciples
By year 26: over 320 million disciples (roughly the population of USA)
Remember that this is all based on only making one wholehearted follower in one year who can then do the same. And, we only began with ten disciples doing this whereas one could easily imagine thousands doing the same in our own country alone.
My point is that we do not need to get overly enamored with the numbers-thing one way or the other. We just get to be followers of the Majestic One and share that joy with another until he/she grasps that there is no greater joy than finding ways to love/reach/care/influence another to live out this ongoing, reproductive life of the Kingdom. Such influence for Jesus Christ is within our grasp and, again I say, there is no greater joy than simply being a part.
What can you/I envision for the next one year?