You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 NASB
Have the members of your congregation become imitators of you and of the Lord? Are they an example to all believers? Does the word of the Lord sound forth from you and from them? Does their faith toward God go forth? How DOES your congregation engage the harvest – specifically?
Following are some ways you can recalibrate your church toward real multiplication in the work of the harvest.
Recalibrate by beginning with the harvest
Harvest work is the most healing thing you can do for yourself or for your congregation. Don’t wait to eventually get to harvest. Keep on the apostolic mission. Your church is an apostolically wired place and so are you. Live it.
- Expose yourself in new, healthy ways; change your schedule – a lot
- Meet Jesus in new ways
- Depend on Jesus in new ways
- Allow the people you are discipling to take things off your plate – even the things you enjoy
Recalibrate as a disciple maker and lead with “go”
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit… Matthew 28:19 NASB
You cannot grow healthy disciples unless your disciples are in the harvest, and the disciples will not be in the harvest if you are not fully invested in the harvest. Make time to go, but in your going, do not leave your congregation behind simply because it’s “easier to do it myself.”
Recalibrate by actively destroying spiritual passivity
If your congregation is passively sitting through a meeting; passively listening to music, scripture reading, prayer and teaching, they will not engage the harvest. Soon, they will not even bother passively to show up.
Recalibrate by embracing small beginnings
In some places “small” is very nearly a swear word. You can only imagine how many times I’ve heard, “That’s not a church, it’s too small.” People in the U.S. seem to have a primal need to super-size everything and that mentality has invaded the church. In other places – Mexico, Haiti, South America, other Caribbean countries – there is excitement when a handful of people come together and choose to be a church.
Let’s embrace stories of hope and opportunity, not waiting until the whole story is told; let’s risk that nothing may appear to happen; let’s value the formation of relationships and friendships and allow stories of faith time to grow and develop.
Recalibrate with mothering and fathering discipleship
In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul mentions that he both mothered and fathered the Thessalonians in his discipleship process:
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
A mother cares tenderly for her children with fond affection, imparting her very life. A father exhorts, encourages, and implores his children to walk worthy of their calling. Paul’s discipleship involved both, and look at the results.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 tells us this one church in Thessalonica impacted a geographic region of about 42,000 square miles. (Ohio is 40,000 square miles.) The power of the gospel “trumpeting” out from them was impressive. It led to some significant multiplication. I believe a foundational key to this local church’s outreach impact is tied to Paul’s intentional mothering and fathering discipleship.
Recalibrate how you measure success
One of the more challenging things we encounter in our network is watching and walking with existing congregations as they recalibrate their success meter. This type of change is never easy, but it is critical to harvest work.
Leaders often struggle to know what to change and how to pursue harvest work in the right way? Recently one shared that the fluid effectiveness of GSE makes more sense now that he has been working with it for more than a year.