Archives For Missions

Igniting Movements: Multiplying Churches in Dark Places

By Ajai Lall and Josh Howard

Nearly 65 percent of the world’s unreached people groups live in India (1.2 billion people) and the 11 countries surrounding it—comprising nearly 50 percent of the world’s population. This is where Central India Christian Mission (CICM) makes its impact.

Founded by Ajai Lall and his wife Indu more than 30 years ago, CICM is igniting movements throughout this populous region. In this FREE eBook, Igniting Movements, Lall and CICM leader Josh Howard chronicle the journey toward church multiplication through riveting stories of facing religious persecution, practical leadership insights and multiplication principles that continue to reproduce churches in some of the world’s darkest places. The authors conclude the book by sharing five “big things” we must not forget if we truly want to ignite church multiplication movements where we are. Igniting Movements—the ninth eBook in Exponential’s church multiplication series—offers encouragement, wisdom and inspiration to planters regardless of your context or culture. Download your copy of Igniting Movements.

Key takeaways

  • The three elements needed to start and stoke spiritual fires
  • How we can reach the world’s population with the gospel in less than 20…

    Continue Reading

As someone who both cares about the mission of the Church and leads a research organization, I watch the trends in the Church and the culture. Occasionally, someone asks me to share some thoughts on the big picture, in the case of the North American context, questions related to “streams” of Protestantism.

Based on research, statistics, extrapolation, and (I hope) some insight, I notice three important trends continuing in the next 10 years.

Trend #1: The Hemorrhaging of Mainline Protestantism

This trend is hardly news—mainliners will tell you of this hemorrhaging and of their efforts to reverse it.

Mainline Protestantism is perhaps the best known portion of Protestantism, often represented by what are called the “seven sisters” of the mainline churches. Mainline churches are more than these, but these seven are the best known, perhaps:

  • United Methodist Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
  • Episcopal Church
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • American Baptist Churches
  • United Church of Christ (UCC)
  • The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

They tend to fall on the progressive side of the theological continuum, but there is diversity of theology as well (Methodists, as a whole, are probably most conservative, for example).

Mainline Protestantism is in trouble and in substantive decline. Some…

Continue Reading

What are the questions that have changed your life? For Jeff Leake, president of the Reach Northeast church planting network, the question that changed his life—and the lives of thousands–came in November of 1996. In this FREE resource, Leake shares the story of why and how he has led Allison Park Church to become a multiplication center that to date has been involved with the planting of 38 churches throughout the Northeast.

Leake also takes readers on a transparent journey as he identifies the primary tensions he and Allison Park wrestled with as they planted one church after another. He admits, “As soon as we decided to step out and plant our first church, I felt the pull of fear on my soul”:

  • What if everyone leaves our church and goes with the church planter?
  • What if our larger givers leave and I’m left with nothing but bills?
  • What will happen if my attendance drops?
  • What will my peers think of me if I pastor a smaller church than I did before?

As he faced those fears head-on and Allison Park obeyed and stayed its course of multiplication, God’s provision continued to come. The Question That Changed My…

Continue Reading

When Darrin and Amie Patrick planted The Journey in the basement of their house in St. Louis, Missouri, they began the church to reach and engage “people like us.” The new eBook, The Journey: Toward a Healthy Multiplying Church, traces the story of The Journey from a small core-group meeting to a movement of the gospel across six Journey churches and eight church plants around the United States. In the book, Patrick shares five lessons he and The Journey have learned over the past decade about becoming a movement where every member sees themselves as a missionary for their city. Below, he fleshes out the first lesoon:

Not that I’ve done it, but I would guess that one of the hardest things to do is build a plane while you’re flying it. That’s really what we’ve done at The Journey, and in many ways are still doing. Every multiplying church has to face it at one time or another. Still more difficult is to not just be building while in motion, but inspecting it in mid-flight. But, by God’s grace we have learned some things since planting The Journey more than a decade ago.

Lesson…

Continue Reading

In last week’s The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of June 8th, Beth Riedemann wrote a post entitled An Open Letter To Mike Linch, Sr. Pastor at NorthStar.

The title caught my attention because Mike is one of my dearest friends and one of the great pastors in America.  You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

As I read Beth’s post I was moved by her transparency as she recounted her family’s story of coming back to church and the role NorthStar Church and Mike, specifically, have played in her spiritual journey.

While no two stories are ever the same, the following are 20 Facts About The Unchurched People Who Visit Your Church I gleaned from Beth’s comments:

  1. Unchurched People were often deeply affected as children by the actions of their parents and their view of God.
  2. Unchurched People were often judged harshly by those in roles of spiritual authority.
  3. Unchurched People often watched Christians treat each other harshly. Why would they want to be part of that?
  4. Unchurched People are unclear on what is needed to go to Heaven.
  5. Unchurched People have seen poor Christian leadership modeled for them. Thankfully, God…

    Continue Reading

Parkview Christian On Mission

“Your mission . . . should you choose to accept it.”

Every kid growing up in my generation longed to hear those words from the television series, “Mission Impossible.” The agency would send a super secret tape player to the secret agent, who would listen to instructions (usually involving a dangerous trek to some communist country), and then the tape would self-destruct so no one else could ever know what the super secret mission was.

Interestingly, there was never an episode where the agent said, “I’m not feeling it, I think I’ll go get a beef sandwich.”

The assumption here is that if you are an agent, it’s your job to take the mission. If you want to sit around all day and play Candy Crush®, you can work somewhere else. Maybe the DMV. But if you’re an agent—you accept the mission. That’s the whole reason you took all those Kung Fu lessons.

Guess what? Every believer is an agent. Every believer has a mission.

The Life on Mission curriculum is about how to help your congregation realize that they are on mission. Not just the Pastor. It’s written to help them understand…

Continue Reading

I used to go to church to make fun of Pastors. No joke. I would take notes as they preached and wait behind to tell them the 15 ways they were wrong. Not only that, but I used to read the Bible only to look for contradictions in order to argue Christians out of their faith. Sometimes it even worked, sadly.

Now most atheists aren’t this way, but some of them have strong opinions about religion, God, and the people who follow Him. Which is why it’s important that we – as Christians – minimize our mistakes when we do get the opportunity to talk with them about Christ.

Two Things:

Before we get into the 5 mistakes, I do want to mention two things:

First, for the material in this post I will be drawing mainly from three different sources: my time as an atheist; my mistakes in talking with atheists after becoming a Christian; and the wisdom of those who graciously gave their opinions and experiences on this topic – thank you!

Second, I want to assert that ‘talking to atheists’ means a respectful and wanted conversation by two or more people that have…

Continue Reading

In this FREE resource, Exponential Director Todd Wilson presses into Exponential’s 2015 theme, “SPARK: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication,” to give church leaders a vision for reproducing churches and the tools needed to see that vision come to fruition. The eBook sets the framework for Exponential’s 2015 eBooks series focusing on multiplication and champions Exponential’s focus on moving the multiplication needle in the U.S. Church.

Wilson highlights the cultures leaders most naturally create and he challenges you to honestly assess which culture you’re creating. He points out that every church–regardless of your context or phase (pre-launch, launch or post-launch)–is creating a culture and takes readers through a thorough explanation of how culture is created and what is needed to create a multiplication culture.

He offers an exploration of what Scripture says about God’s command to multiply and out of that scriptural study comes fresh insight as he contends that the U.S. church needs both addition (what he calls the micro strategy of adding disciples one on one, and life on life) and multiplication (the macro strategy of reproducing churches). He writes: “We must purpose to continually ask ourselves, ‘How do we help everyone…

Continue Reading

Culture Wars

By Tim Harlow

Life on MissionI believe that God puts us where He wants us. I know that’s an obvious opening statement, but that means that I actually believe that God put me in Chicagoland in 2015 because He gave me certain gifts and abilities that He wants me to use.  I don’t think I would have fit in as a preacher in Mayberry in the 1960s. I just could not have dealt with the legalism. I would have probably opted for Woodstock.

I was recently at an event where I heard a lot of well-meaning Christian leaders talking about “taking our culture back.” There are many church leaders who would love to bring back the “moral majority” to America. And while I hate what immorality does to people’s lives and also to the heart of God, my study of church history shows me that Christianity is usually most potent when it comes in from the outside. Jesus didn’t call us to be the majority of the earth.

He called us to be the salt and light.

I want to lead the Christians who are cellphone lights in a movie theater. Do you know what I…

Continue Reading

“He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.” The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’ Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’” John 4:4-10

Though most of our personal evangelism probably happens in the context of some kind of relationship (friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, classmate, teammate, etc) there are countless opportunities we have throughout our lives to engage complete strangers with the good news, just like…

Continue Reading

As I’ve said before, Christianity is not dying; nominal Christianity is.

Today, Pew Research Center released a report drawing a variety of headlines—everything from “Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion” to “Pew: Evangelicals Stay Strong as Christianity Crumbles in America.”

So what are we supposed to think of Christianity in America?

The nominals are becoming the nones, and the convictional are remaining committed.

The big trends are clear, the nominals are becoming the nones, yet the convictional are remaining committed.

In other words, Americans whose Christianity was nominal—in name only—are casting aside the name. They are now aligning publicly with what they’ve actually not believed all along.

The percentage of convictional Christians remains rather steady, but because the nominal Christians now are unaffiliated the overall percentage of self-identified Christians is decline. This overall decline is what Pew shows—and I expect it to accelarate.

As I have said before, not one serious researcher thinks Christianity in America is dying. What we see from Pew is not the death-knell of Christianity, but another indication that Christianity in America is being refined.

As such, let me share three takeaways from…

Continue Reading

Outside TemperatureIsn’t it easier to point out the wrongdoings of others and tell people what to do, rather than be a part of the solution?

My wife and I have noticed this in our children—they love playing the victim. So whenever there’s conflict, instead of figuring it out themselves, they come to us crying out “injustice!”

I wonder where they learned that from? I knew I never should’ve let them watch Sesame Street…

In order to fix this attitude, a few days ago, my wife began teaching them the difference between being bossy and being a leader. Here’s the difference:

  • Bossy people point out the wrongdoings of others, expect others to fix their issues, and are never wrong.
  • Leaders take responsibility for situations, don’t dwell on problems, focus on solutions, and make change happen.

As I was reflecting on this new paradigm of parenting (my wife is amazing by the way), I couldn’t help but notice the similarities that it had with thermometers and thermostats. Let me explain:

  • Thermometers point out what currently is, expect others to do something with that information, and they provide us with the standard—they are never wrong. Thermometers are indicators.
  • Thermostats, on the other…

    Continue Reading