At the National Church Multiplication Conference this August, our missionary from Nepal (B.A.) challenged each U.S. Friends church to plant a new church for every 100 people. Dr. Williams and the Home Missions Board took that challenge seriously for our Yearly Meeting. The thing is, Jesus never started a local church or commanded anyone to start churches. What are we to make of this? It is clear that Jesus made disciples from non-disciples (what Bob is also doing in Nepal), and He instructed His disciples to make disciples. This is the core mission to which B.A. was challenging us, the mission to which Jesus charged us all, whether or not we are called to start churches. The result of making new disciples is the gathering together of those disciples; sometimes they are incorporated into existing congregations, and sometimes they form new churches.
So at the core of a church multiplication vision is a disciple-multiplication strategy. We must first be about making and multiplying disciples and disciple-makers, and then we will be poised to multiply churches. As we make and multiply disciples, each one carries the potential of a new congregation. But we must get first things first: disciple making.
Most of our disciple making and church planting methods for the last 100+ years here in the U.S. have had a “come to us” approach. And up until recent years, this has been effective because the culture outside the church was fairly consistent with the culture inside. All we really needed to do was invite people to church where we provided them engaging environments and programs, and folks would come to hear the gospel, to learn and grow and be discipled. However, today, the culture outside of the church has changed and is changing rapidly in almost every Western context. As a result, fewer and fewer new people are open to coming to church. You have heard it said this way: the U.S. is now mission territory.
Therefore, to make and multiply new disciples and new churches in our home context, we must consider replacing our “come to us” approach with a “go to them” missionary posture. This requires nothing less than a fundamental shift in our thinking and behaviors as the People of God.
Tribe of Friends presents, “The Journey” a one day session that will be hosted at a site in every Area across the Yearly Meeting. If you join us in one of these sites, you will be invited to count the cost of living a missionary life at home, you will be given practical strategies to begin engaging your home mission field, and you will be challenged to take steps toward the people to whom God is sending you.
Registration is available at www.tribeoffriends.org.
– Carrie Corliss, Member of EFC-MAYM Home Missions Board & Member of Communitas