This Sunday we will be partaking with many Wesleyan Churches across the world in what is known as Church Multiplication Sunday (CMS). If you remember last week we talked about memorials and their importance. They are a reminder of how God has faithfully provided, especially when circumstances seem impossible. This is where CMS was birthed. It is a memorial to Pentecost Sunday, where God showed up and showed off. He filled His people with the power of the Holy Spirit and unleashed them on a mission to take on new territory for the Kingdom and He is far from through. However, there many barriers that stand in the way today. It’s no secret that churches in America are in rapid decline. We can debate the many factors for this decline, but that is a discussion for another time. Let me focus in on two key areas: inward and outward focus.
Many experts in church growth have long observed that the older a church becomes, the greater the potential is for becoming inwardly focused. That’s not to say there aren’t some long standing churches that aren’t making a significant impact on their community because there certainly are. This is just the general rule of thumb. It’s also important to understand that these churches that have become ingrown, didn’t start out this way. In fact, even the younger church plants face this subtle shift when the mission drifts out of focus. I love this adjective “drift” because it gives us a clearer picture that what happens in these situations are slow and much like carelessly swimming in the ocean, you can be swept away far from shore.
The reality in churches, is there are many things fighting for our attention. Someone might come up to you as a leader and say, “I have this great idea for a new ministry,” and it may very well be a great idea, but we can’t be afraid to say no. Everything we do must be measured against our mission. The problem with inwardly focused churches, is that we think every great idea needs to be implemented. We fail to realize that just because it’s a great idea, doesn’t mean it’s the right idea.
A second possible challenge for inwardly focused churches is the “me” syndrome. What we often hear is, “What about me?” The result is people want their own style of music played, the people to look a certain way, act a certain way, and keep doing things the way they’ve always done it and expecting a different result. It’s tough for people to accept that the church was not built for them, it was built for those yet to come. This is another sign that the mission and vision have slowly drifted away.
Vastly differing, church plants are uniquely outwardly and singularly focused. The mission is the sole priority. They will not allow distractions to interfere with what God has called them to. The question a church plant asks is not “what about me,” but rather “what about them.” What about the lost, the broken, the hurting, and the disenfranchised? To be clear, it’s not that inward focused churches don’t ask those questions, they are simply so consumed with people inside the building, they don’t even know where to begin. Church plants seem to do a better job exegeting their communities and as a result, they reach more people.
Inward churches also focus on seating capacity, rather than sending capacity. The whole goal for those inward churches is to fill the building with as many people as possible, while church plants try to send as many people as possible. I love the analogy of the fighter jet. Church plants use their worship services, small groups, and discipleship relationships as the fuel station. We get filled up and then we are released back on our mission. The idea is not to come and see, the lifeblood is in the passion to go and be. Without these fresh expressions, these new church plants, we will continue to see a rapid decline in America.
Our bold and courageous General Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Schmidt and his team, have made it a priority for us to make a greater impact for the Kingdom. Simply listen to the mission:
Celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies itself until there is a transforming presence in every ZIP code.
This is what you call Kingdom impact! I encourage you to prayerfully consider giving at http://www.parkwaywesleyanstaunton.org/give.html, in order for the mission to continue.
As we approach this Sunday, I pray that the Holy Spirit compels you, not only to give financially, but also become a prayer partner. Dan Reiland, Executive Pastor at 12 Stone Church, once said, “Nothing shapes the outcomes of your church more than prayer.” Let’s pray for the Spirit to shape the outcome for generations to come, through the multiplication of God’s Kingdom!
Be bold and courageous!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson