Ed spoke so powerfully to us out of Luke 10 – the call of Jesus as he sends them out on mission. This ‘happened’ to be one of my bible readings devotionally this morning, so I was excited to hear what Ed would bring from it!
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
What impacts multiplication? Ed did some work on this for Leadership Network and published it as Viral Churches (oops!). From that research and the text here we see we must:
BEGIN with Radical Reliance
Jesus told them not to rely on the things of the world to supply the kingdom of God. Don’t take a bag, sandals etc. Many years ago he read about Brother Andrew’s training time, where they started this way. But these days people are talking themselves out of multiplication for mission because they don’t think there are the resources for it. Carey started a missional movement in 1792 ‘Expect great things for God, attempt for God’ and they didn’t have screens, they didn’t even have electricity. Sometimes affluence stops us or slows us! There will never be enough people or money to do it all, but we are called to do it anyway. The shock of the pandemic and after effects have shocked us into fear, but how about instead we are shocked into reliance?
BLESS the Community
Jesus says our peace will rest on people. When we come in and multiply blessing in a community, that community is effected massively. The first century church isn’t actually as awesome as it sounds. The growth came mostly at the end of the second century, Stark and others tell us – when plagues fell Justin the Apostate wrote that the believers (atheists) ‘impious Galileans’ – didn’t just look after their own sick/people, but ours as well. Share and show the love of Jesus by our actions.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Don’t just plan to plant churches, we must align our mission with that of Jesus – to help hurting and broken people.
BUILD relationships and settle in
‘Don’t move around from house to house.’ This indicates deep community. Incarnational ministry. Like Jesus ‘moved into the neighbourhood’ cf John 1 (MSG). In the USA Church planting has become the next big thing. But relationships take years to connect with, we have to settle in, to build trust.
MEET NEEDS and SERVE PEOPLE
‘Heal the sick who are there.’ Expect miracles! The Lord intervened into their problems. He came bringing the kingdom. There has never been a time when God has not reigned, yet when he came he says ‘The kingdom of God has come near!’ We are here to join Jesus in his mission. The Father sent the Son, who sends us the same way. Over 40 times in John, Jesus says something like that. He came to reconcile the world and to reconcile people. He will renew and restore the broken world. How? He came serving hurting and broken people. He is anointed – for what? Good news for the poor! Setting captives free!
Jesus said Lk 19:10 he came to seek and save the lost. So he came serving the hurting and saving the lost.
If you only meet physical needs, you are not doing the fullness of the Jesus mission. But also if you only go seeking to save the lost to evacuate them to heaven, you are not either.
ANNOUNCE the KINGDOM
‘Tell them the kingdom of God has come near to you.’ We are not citizens of the kingdom, yet we are also praying for the kingdom to come – so it’s now and not yet. Matt 4:17 tells us the kingdom has now come – and we see that when miracles happen, when marriages are healed and lives transformed. And historically the times when the kingdom most advances is when the kingdoms of this world are in disarray.
In all his work, he sees that Christians try to encourage ourselves to do better by saying how bad things are going. There are all kinds of statistics that tells us we are doing terribly, 87.5% of those statistics are made up. So stop saying ‘Christianity is collapsing, church is dying…’ even to mobilise everyone. Because it actually demotivates instead. Cand we change our tone? Based on past moments, we can see that when God shakes the nations – he is pressing the church forward.
Previously he has looked for islands of strength, bright spots. Places seeing rapid multiplication and growth.
What’s the modern application of the sending of the 72 for us? For church multiplication and movements?
All things multiply. You mustn’t just think ‘multiply churches’ – it’s too much of a shock for people to get hold of. You have to multiply disciples, groups, ministries, campuses etc. and churches.
The Church Multiplication Institute is a centre to help us with this.
Model Multiplication Personally.
If you are going to ask the church to multiply, you cannot lead what you do not live – so you must be one who multiplies. Multiply disciples yourself and tell the stories. Don’t go around the world talking about multiplication without doing it in your life. He and his wife Donna drew a neighbourhood map, eight homes.
They prayed that they would get to share the gospel with them all over time. And they told the stories of how that went to the church. Not everyone was interested. But over time, some came, and were baptised, and then started to meet in one of those homes and then others came and multiplied out – to Brazil.
What we celebrate, we become. Your people need to see you multiplying – not just being away with our ‘strategies.’
Articulate a strategy for multiplication that people ‘get.’
Be Born Pregnant
Why not state ‘we will be a church planting church’ so we will plant again a year from now and we will take an offering for that now and part of our offerings from now on will be to help birth that.
Do you remember the Star Trek episode ‘The trouble with the Tribbles.’ The reason they caused their problem was, ‘Bones’ found out – ‘They are born pregnant so all they have to do is eat to multiply.’
They saw this happened when Vineyard and Calvary Chapel got started in the early eighties. They were just going for it. Starting bible studies and reaching and sending anyone and everyone everywhere and now we see what a movement in the west looked like. In turbulent times.
Open More Lanes
When you go to the supermarket and you go to pay at the checkouts, there are loads of lanes but only a few open with people on the tills. So in church planting if the only lanes are ‘We take you out, you go to Bible school, and then qualified and get ordained and then after a few goes in various places’ lane – you will never have enough money and enough clergy to do the job.” Okay that doesn’t mean stop all that but for what Roland Allen called the spontaneous expansion of the church we must contrast Paul’s methods and ours and raise people up from the harvest. Planting churches that plant churches,
What stops us saying ‘We would love to multiply where you are.’ The only way to do that is to overcome fear. Because fear is the opposite of faith. And if that has stopped you, don’t let having less not stop you doing more because scarcity brings clarity and if we make our vision and mission again:
Serving the hurting
Saving the lost
We would see this as such an opportune time.
Hear again the words of Jesus:
Radical reliance. Give yourself away. Know their names so they will know his name. Join Jesus on mission and announce the kingdom where he has placed us in the world.
WHICH POINT MOVED or challenged YOU MOST? There was something of a stunned silence after the last point here, perhaps testimony to how we are still wedded to a system with very few lanes open!