How do you usually end the year? In the midst of all of the holiday activity do you take time to look back on the year and what you’ve accomplished? Do you think back to the goals and plans you made in January and whether or not you achieved them?
Most years I don’t think too much about looking back, but this year is different. Looking back on 2014 I can’t help wondering. Has our church plant been successful? Have we fulfilled our vision? Have we transformed our community? Unfortunately, all of those questions can never truly be answered in one year. Church planting is not a one-year effort. Like a foot race, church planting is a marathon, not a sprint.
While there is a time and place to consider those questions, maybe a better question for each of us to ask is, “Have I made disciples this year?” After all, that is our ultimate mission. Isn’t it? “Make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Another way to think about it is, “What have I multiplied this year?” I saw this tweet from a friend today:
“Four things every church should #multiply: disciples, leaders, small groups, and congregations” (@LDukeAL).
As we look back on 2015, ask yourself this: Have I multiplied disciples this year? Have I multiplied leaders? Has The River Church multiplied small groups? Has The River Church multiplied congregations this year? Maybe you have. Maybe we have not. Well, what are we going to do about it next year?
Here are a few things that I want to lead The River Church to do next year. (1) I am going to encourage every Discipleship Group—you know, the informal groups of men and women, meeting at various times—to work through Life on Mission, a 5-6 week study of how to live like a missionary in your every day life, learning to share the Gospel with people who are far from God. In addition to Life on Mission, I am going to encourage our Discipleship Groups to use other evangelism resources, like Just Walk Across the Room, a book and study written by Bill Hybels. Honestly, friends, we need to learn to be better witnesses. If we cannot sow Gospel seeds, we will not grow as a healthy church on mission!
(2) Beginning January 7, I am going to teach “Preaching 101,” a 5-week class on Expositional Preaching. As a pastor and preacher, I take it my personal responsibility to train men in the task of preaching the Bible. The River Church should be full of men who are equipped to preach faithfully the Word of God. But training to preach is not the only thing our men need. We need to learn to be better Missional Community leaders, better at caring for members of our MCs, better at articulating the Gospel and sharing the Story of God, better at leading our MCs on mission. So I am going to continue to lead our men in our monthly Equipping Sessions, where we will grow and learn together as leaders in all these areas and more.
(3) I am going to encourage us to launch new Missional Communities with leaders trained in our Equipping Sessions. I am going to lead us to identify homes and neighborhoods in our city and our valley where we can put new MCs. When a healthy MC grows in a new neighborhood, it becomes the seed of a new congregation.
The mission of The River Church is to make disciples and plant churches by transforming lives, families, and communities with the Good News of Jesus. That’s what we are all about, friends. What is your part of that mission in 2015? At the end of 2015, will you be able to say I helped multiply disciples, leaders, Missional Communities, and churches?