Our Directions 2012 project has highlighted that, as a movement, our current ways of doing ministry have not enabled us to keep pace with our growing population. If the Gen 1K goal to grow to 1,000 churches by 2050 is to become a reality, we can’t keep doing things the way we have always done them and expect to reach this goal.
Some of the things we do work well and we should continue to pursue them; other ways we go about ministry need to be changed. The diagram to the right is used to train church planting leaders and is also a helpful diagnostic tool for any church to evaluate its effectiveness in gospel ministry. The four fields are likened to aspects of farming, particularly the farming illustrations of Jesus with the underlying themes of growth, reproduction and health.
Field 1 – The Empty Field
Every local church has a mission field. When we enter our mission field we must start with focused prayer and develop a plan to reach people. The key questions are, ‘Who are we going to reach? How are we going to meet these people? Where do we start?’
Field 2 – The Seeded Field
We need to plant the seed of the good news. Once we are contacting people, what are we going to say? Romans 10:9-17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, so what is our plan to share the Gospel? We need to know our story of salvation and be able to tell it in a few minutes. We also need to know the gospel story and be able to tell it in a way that encourages faith in Christ. We need to keep it simple so that people who have grasped it for themselves can tell others.
Field 3 – The Growing Field
This is where we begin to see some results from our labours. The key question is, ‘How are we going to disciple people?’ or ’How do I promote growth?’ Some differences to current common methods of discipling may be
- Making obedience a priority (look again at Matthew 28:19-20), not just educating people
- Having a short term and long term strategy for discipling
- Discipling people in their own environments (homes, workplaces, etc) rather than inviting them into ours; they will be more comfortable and we want to get into their world.
Field 4 – The Harvest Field
Our ministry mindset needs to go beyond addition to multiplication – of disciples, congregations and churches. A healthy church will reproduce other churches. The question to ask is, ‘How do we form a healthy, growing, reproducing church?’
Our Gen 1K church planting vision necessitates the raising up of more leaders. One last question to consider is, ‘How do we develop and multiply leaders?’ The reality of 1,000 churches causes us to lift our eyes from one person and one church to more people and more churches.