One of the most quoted scriptures is Matthew 16:18-19. In this passage, which is the first mention of the word Church in the New Testament, we see Jesus speaking of the establishment of the church. For those of us involved in church planting movement strategy, it is a foundational scripture. Take a look at it:
18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beg loosed in heaven.”
I am not going to do a standard exegesis of this passage. Aspects of this word from Jesus have been analyzed and debated for centuries. Instead, I want to highlight an aspect of this word that is less obvious.
Look at the object of each verse. In verse 18, the object is the Church. Jesus says to Peter that on this rock (the confession that Jesus is Messiah, the Son of God), that He, Jesus, will build his Church. Then in verse 19, the focus changes from Church to the Kingdom of God. He says he will give us the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore whatever WE bind and loose will be bound and loosed.
Here is my point: Verse 18: Jesus is the Builder, the Church is the thing built.
Verse 19: We are given the Keys, We do the binding and loosing. The Kingdom is the focus…they are not the keys of the “church”, but rather the keys of the Kingdom.
So lets put it this way: As we focus on the Kingdom of God, Jesus Builds His Church.
In practical terms, this might be revolutionary for us. As a person who has worked in “Church Work” for many years, I think I am somewhat typical of many “Church Workers”. I spent many years working as hard as I could to “Build the Church”. Most of my waking hours were spent in focus on how to advance the Church. Even our missions focus was on the Mission of the Church. Without nitpicking this terminology (all of it is appropriate language in the various contexts of our mission) I am just highlighting a prevalent mindset. Even in the Church Planting Movement strategy, we are Planting Churches. But recently some of us have begun to call this strategy “Disciple Making Movements” to highlight that what we are really doing is making Disciples (as commanded in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20). As we Make Disciples to Jesus (and thus see the Kingdom advance), church multiplication is the by product…..or rather, we make Disciples using the Keys of the Kingdom…..and Jesus builds His Church.
So this blog is a challenge to us all to focus on the Advance of the Kingdom of God, not merely the increase of our own ministry, or even Church Growth. We have been given Keys, Spiritual Authority to disciple people, set them free from bondage, and lead them to follow Christ. As that occurs, Jesus will build, increase and multiply His Church. Disciple Making Movements become Church Planting Movements.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” Isaiah 54:2
This verse was the inspiration of the sermon that William Carey delivered to pastors and leaders in May, 1792, which helped to launch the modern missions movement. He was encouraging leaders to step out and enlarge their vision of reaching the world for Jesus Christ and to take steps to do so. This verse is most appropriate to the day we are in as well. World Missions and Evangelism is preparing to Enlarge our Vision as well.
Last year, at the consultation for Church Planting and Disciple Making Movements that I attended in California, the theme was “Go Global” and we were there representing disciple making ministries and projects from 54 nations. As we look to the coming year of 2013, I believe this is a year of Enlargement and “Going Global” for WME as well. Here are 3 areas of enlargement!
1. The Honduras Church Planting and Disciple Making Movement Project is becoming the “Latin American Disciple Making Movement Project”. That is because doors are opening for our team to begin to train leaders in DMM strategy in several other Latin American Countries. Please be in prayer that these trainings and the resulting deployment of disciple making church planters will be blessed and every step will be in God’s timing. Currently we think our first step will be across the border from Honduras into El Salvador. The goal is nothing less than multiple Disciple Making/Church Planting Movements throughout Latin America, until all the unreached are reached.
2. The Indonesia Project: WME’s missionary, Troy Allen, will be deploying into the Indonesia region in early 2013 with a goal of reaching multiple Muslim peoples with the gospel and fostering DMMs among them.
3. The Southern Africa DMM work: WME is beginning a partnership with leaders in Southern Africa. These leaders have seen hundreds of churches planted in the last 3 years in the countries of South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesoto, and Madagascar. One of WME’s missionary couples who are in Botswana will be applying the DMM principles there, focused on several people groups. In this partnership WME will be helping leaders of the Southern Africa DMMs to connect with support and resources, and those leaders will be helping WME missionaries in the region to apply DMM principles.
This year seems to be going quickly, and we are already looking forward to the coming year….a year where, in the Lord’s will, WME will be GOING GLOBAL!
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5, NIV)
I used to watch the TV game show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. It has a series of questions, each worth more than the previous question and increasing in difficulty. If you answer the final question, you have won 1 million dollars or pounds (American or British version). Along the way, if the contestant has difficulty, he or she had 3 “lifelines”. These were assists with the difficult question. There was 50:50, where 2 of the wrong choices were removed. There was Ask The Audience, where the audience would be polled (and the majority was usually right). There was Phone-A-Friend, where the contestant would call a friend who was knowledgeable in that particular field. In other versions of the game there were different “lifelines”.
In our walk with God, and our obedience to Him, there are challenges and spiritual warfare. Many times God’s people find themselves in situations that are difficult and with decisions to make that they feel unprepared to face. In those cases, we have an Unlimited Number of Lifelines! God is our Expert Friend. He has given us a book, The Bible, which has direct answers to many of the questions we face, and interestingly enough, all tests in this life are “Open Book Tests”. Furthermore, if the question is murky, and a clear answer cannot be discerned from the direct words of scripture, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are told in the scripture in James to ask God for wisdom who will give it generously. In fact one the gifts of the Spirit who indwells us is the “Word of Wisdom”. Ask for it and expect it to be given!
As we move forward as obedient disciples there will be tests. But in every case, without a single exception, we can Use our Lifeline!