A contrast in missionary work was recently brought to my attention. A missionary-sending group we’ll call Agency A in one year trained their 4,000 missionaries who trained another 21,000 workers who went out and began 14,000 churches. In other words, 4,000 got 14,000 churches started. In the same year with roughly the same number of missionary personnel, Agency B trained 985 workers and started 985 churches.
There’s a stark contrast here and it’s all based on training paradigms. If you train one to reach one, you’ll get one. If you train one that can reach groups of people in a way that they can reach other groups, then you’ll be used of the Lord to start a movement. What works for witnessing, works for church multiplication.
“No longer can we settle for methods that just add disciples to the kingdom. Making disciples among all people in the world—crossing the challenging religious, cultural, and political barriers—takes multiplication.” Avery T. Willis & Mark Snowden, Truth That Sticks
While interviewing a missionary couple who were church planting candidates , I asked, “What is your vision for addressing lostness?” The man said, “I’m called to plant a church.” I responded, “The city where you’re going has one million lost people and the average church size is 45. What are you going to do differently to address lostness?” Without a blink he said, “Well, like I said, I’m going to start a new church.” I then asked, “Could you at least start four or five new churches simultaneously?” His wife leaned forward, clearly amazed and said, “How is this possible?” That’s when it dawned on me that how we train missionaries — and church members as missionaries — can miss some important details.
In Luke 10, Jesus sent out His disciples two-by-two. Their mission was to prepare entire households and villages for Jesus’ coming. Peter went to Cornelius’ household. Paul sought to evangelize Lydia and the Philippian jailer’s entire households. And they all became followers of Jesus. Are we discipled in multiplying ourselves and our churches? Or will we keep thinking one-to-one and that’s enough?
My role at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board was to train church members as missionaries. Making disciple-makers that could start small groups was at the heart of my assignment. The models being developed were primarily cross-cultural, but during one training session, a pastor said, “This will work even with those in my own church.” He got it. And these small groups had the DNA to multiply simultaneously into new churches. When I left NAMB, they gave me the copyrights to all these training materials.
Workers in the Harvest is now a book ($7), a Bible study ($12.95), and a workshop. After 90 days, the first group through W.I.T.H. has started a biker church, a Hispanic church, and another church for the first time is sending out evangelizing teams who will form small groups of new believers. Who’s next? Contact me for details. SnowdenMinistries@gmail.com