I think church planting is just about as hard as it has ever been in the history of the U.S.
For years the closure rate of churches [in the US] was about 3,700 a year, and they’re anticipating that that number will move to about 5,500. All the while, there’s going to be probably another 100 million people that will come to the U.S. in the next seven years, either through birth or immigration. So the need continues to grow and grow and grow.
We need to be planting about 8,100 churches per year just to keep up with the population and the closure rates.
Of the new churches that Stadia serves, 42 percent of the attendance of those churches is made up of first time believers.
Stadia Church Planting
The Holy Spirit comes on Jesus when he is in the passive state of submitting himself to God’s will in baptism and while he is praying.
The effects of the Spirit in the life of Jesus are evident in what follows: the power to resist the wiles of Satan, the power to recall and apply Scripture, the power to see God’s plan and purposes and to proclaim the Word boldly, the power to withstand hostility, and the power to minister to and heal the oppressed. The Spirit in the lives of believers can do the same things.
This week a heated “Chrislam’’ battle is unfolding in the Catholic Church over Pope Francis’s joint document with Islamic leader Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, which says the “pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God in His wisdom”.
Did the God of the Bible, revealed in Jesus Christ, “will” Islam into being and raise up Mohammed as a or the prophet? In 2015 that was certainly the view of Westminster Abbey.
A lot depends on how you answer that question. Right now lives are being lost in attempts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ among Muslims. Why should we bother if Islam is willed by God and Mohammed is one of his prophets?
When Mark Durie talks about Islam and Christianity, I listen. He’s a leading Christian authority on Islam. He has lived in Indonesia doing linguistic fieldwork among Muslims. He is the pastor of a congregation of muslim background believers in Melbourne, Australia.
His insights are based upon a careful understanding of the key Islamic texts. This series is a must for anyone working among Muslims.
Sometimes I am unraveled by my own interviews. I sit there amazed at the goodness of God. How he works through ordinary people to extraordinary things. I’m stunned.
I can’t stop thinking about my interview with Don Waybright. I was riveted by the story of Iesus (Jesus), eighteen years in maximum security, solitary confinement, freed by the gospel and learning to follow Jesus. The Mexican gang members turning and believing, risking retaliation for leaving their gang and being baptized. The women in Mumbai, freed from prostitution and walking with Christ.
If you listened to the podcast, but didn't watch the video, fast forward it to the last few minutes and watch Don as he baptizes Iesus who is shackled hand and foot.
Isn’t this what we signed up for?
This discipleship movement is spreading behind bars, it’s spreading among prostitutes in Mumbai, is spreading in some of the darkest places in Houston.
Don Waybright won’t mind me saying he’s just an ordinary guy. He’s been on this journey for almost twenty years. He has an extraordinary ability to take other people with him. His church is on board, they’ve trained 1,600 of their people in the basics of connecting, sharing and discipling. A few years ago Don brought a team from his church for a week of mission on the streets and in the neighborhoods of Mosside, Manchester in the north of England. Mosside is a tough neighborhood. Michelle and I were there. That’s Don and Michelle in the photo above.
Don is the missions pastor of a church of over four thousand. You wouldn’t expect the senior pastor, Mark Hartman, to have time for a week of mission in Mosside. He’d send Don and the team and cheer from back home. But Mark was there, out on the streets sharing the gospel, living what he teaches. Sugar Creek is a “both/and church”. They love being a church of thousands and they love multiplying disciples and churches anywhere they can.
I get tired of having “missional conversations”. It’s all too abstract for me. I want to hear stories of people set free by the gospel and the life of Christ in them. This a work of God. It’s the fruit of surrendering to his living Word, depending on his Holy Spirit and focusing on the core missionary task of making disciples.
That’s what I signed up for.
If this story has moved you, what will you do next? I’m if we asked Don he’d say,
Don’t go alone
Interview with Don Waybright: NoPlaceLeft Behind Bars
Acts has no purpose, no plot, no structure, and no history without suffering.
Ten years ago I was in Singapore having just left a restricted field somewhere in Asia. I had sought out a couple of guys named “Smith” with a lot of experience in church planting movements to help me make sense of what I was learning.
I will not forget this comment:
We've never seen a church planting movement without persecution.
Suffering and persecution go hand in hand with movements that multiply disciples and churches.
They are the unifying theme of the book of Acts. Without them the command to take the gospel to the ends of the world would never have been fulfilled.
Want to learn more?
A first in Australia, the 4Fields Intensive. Four days training for people who want to multiply disciples and churches.