By Peter Meier | March 1, 2017
First of all, realize that in spite of the title, this is not a post about giving up something for Lent. Many people do that – chocolate, coffee, desserts, or whatever. That’s fine. But that’s not what this is about.
This is about a corporate response to Jesus’ sacrifice. What will our congregation give up?
Most churches today encourage their members to contribute, or give up, their offerings and tithes for the sake of the local church’s discipleship and mission growth. Sometimes it’s designed as a new building project because our current facilities are no longer able to meet our needs. Sometimes we ask people to give it up because we need to add programs to meet the demands of various age groups in our membership and community. Sometimes we ask people to give it up so that we can add the new staff which is necessary for the new activities and programs we’ve started to reach current and new cultures and population segments.
That’s not what this is about.
While those are not bad, they simply encourage more “consumer oriented” Christianity and discipleship. Often these efforts are not focused on growing new disciples outside of the ones that are already present or who come to the facilities we operate. We invite people to come and we do out best to meet their needs and desires. But this is not multiplication. This is addition. And this is a challenge for churches of all sizes and shapes and colors.
This is about your church giving up what is not yours in the first place. It’s about your church “giving up” God’s resources for the sake of God’s Kingdom growth, rather than for mere local church growth.
Here are some things to consider corporately as a congregation this Lent (and year-round actually).
· Are we about growing here, or are we about giving up (sending) people to other places? Will we be only (or primarily) about growing our church, or will we also (or primarily) be about sending?
· How much energy are we directing toward optimizing systems within our own congregation, versus the amount of energy we’re directing toward systems which develop leaders and staff to send (giving up) to a new church plant?
· Are we hanging on to best staff members, or giving them up (sending) as church planters?
· Are we developing leaders and staff to run programs in our church, or are we intentionally growing leaders to send out?
· What is our giving up strategy? Or our Sending strategy? Are we as passionate about giving up leaders and people (sending them) as we are about growing ourselves (keeping them)?
· What about our facilities? Do we put more time into our future facility strategy than in planning a church planting strategy?
· If a building will move our mission forward, do we focus on how we will give it up to attract and train more leaders who can be sent out?
· Are we willing to give up newer facilities for the sake of sending and starting new mission work?
· What are staff and volunteer leaders willing give up in order for financial resources to be directed toward church multiplication?
· Is our church willing to tithe on capital campaigns and other special offerings, as well as general offering, designating that tithe for church planting?
· What are we as a church willing to sacrifice to plant a church?
· Will our church designate funds toward assessment, training, and coaching church planters?
· After we’ve planted one new church, or one multi-site, will we be “done”… or will we keep giving it up and taking risks to reach new people?
The question is not about growing our churches. Growth is good. The question is about whether the increase will come through addition (increasing our local capacities) or multiplication (increasing Kingdom capacities through church multiplication).
Lent is a season of the church year when many consider giving something up as a personal reminder of the sacrifice made by Jesus as He gave up the glories of heaven to come to this earth, living and dying for those separated from God by their (our) sins. Could this also be a good time for us corporately to consider giving something up too? Consider starting on a journey to give up significant resources – people, finances, systems and programs, buildings and more – in order to share the Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice with those still far from Him. They are the ones for whom He died and rose again. They are the ones we are called to proclaim forgiveness and reconciliation in His name.
Questions for Discussion
1. Consider the above questions; talk about them with your church leadership and pastor.
2. What is the difference between addition and multiplication when it comes to the church? Both are necessary. Why should the emphasis be on multiplication?
Resources You Can Use
1. Many of these thoughts and questions are from Todd Wilson’s free e-book, Becoming a Level 5ive Multiplying Church. Download the book and share with your small group, staff, pastors.
2. Dream Big, and Dream Big Questions are also free e-books from exponential.org. Dream Big Questions—a supplemental workbook to Dream Big, Plan Smart—offers hundreds of relevant questions that help you and your team dream big for Kingdom multiplication and take steps to move forward. Designed to be used in tandem, these will help you put the principles of Dream Big, Plan Smart into action by equipping you to initiate and facilitate potentially difficult conversations with your team. Whether your church in the beginning stages of the multiplication conversation or wrestling with the inevitable internal and external tensions, Dream Big Questions prepares you and your team to get at the heart of what it takes to pursue multiplication.
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
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