If you’re not aware of it, you may as well be brought into the circle. I have an apostolic calling. OK, relax. Some of you are thinking what does he think he is, one of the 12. The only “12” I’m a part of is a huge fan of the Seattle Seahawks. No, not a big “A” apostle, but I have an orientation that finds its greatest fulfillment in multiplying these reconciled communities that are populated with restored people.
A brief history of my pastoral experience is after pastoring a small rural church, I planted a church in Wenatchee WA, which, by the way, was a miserable failure. A humbling experience is almost always an efficient but austere teacher. From there, in 1991, I planted a church in Spokane called New Community, which in turn launched six other churches. After 17 years in the role, I took a job as the president of an international church planting organization called Christian Associates International. Its sole mission is to plant churches in Western culture. And now, at 57, I have planted another church called Immanuel. I think it is fair to say that it is far from a phase in my life. At 57, I am way past the normal age of church planter. By and large, church planting belongs to the young. Nevertheless, it is really a part of my orientation, to extend the work of Christ into the nations.
I am persuaded that this ministry of reconciliation takes place best through the multiplication of communities of faith.
Here’s a question: how did the gospel get to Spokane? When you consider the distance and challenges that stood in its way it is amazing. Jerusalem is 6707 miles from Spokane. How did the Gospel get all the way to us? Well, it got here as courageous believers who experienced the life of Christ and believed that they were supposed to go beyond their local context, left friends and family to take the Gospel to the nations. In our case it crossed language and cultural barriers and geography, even an ocean, to finally get to a place where we are today. That is precisely why Jesus says in Acts1:8, “For when the Holy Spirit comes upon you in power, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the very ends of the earth.” There is a concentric progression to extending the gospel into the nations. We cannot have a mature missiology without a firm conviction and vision of taking the gospel to the nations. That starts here in Spokane and goes as far out as God allows us.
Additionally, I believe this reproduction must be a part of every aspect of our ministry. It has to include what we do with kids, with our Life Together Groups, and ultimately with churches. Each leader should be giving his or her life away to someone else. It is the idea of working yourself out of a job. It is epitomized by Paul’s words to his mentee, Timothy.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2
It is really a perpetual succession plan. You receive from God and in turn you willingly and joyfully give it to someone with the expectation that they will pass the baton of faith and leadership on to someone else.
I have always felt strongly that my main calling in life is to give my life away to young men and women, to help them live into what God is calling them to do. I read a poem years ago that had a line in it that went like this, “I don’t want to be a king but I want to be a kingmaker.” That is what it means to be reproductive.