What is your part as a laborer in your corner of the harvest? What might kingdom fruit look like in your sphere of influence? We believe these questions are on the hearts of all of us in the district.
In light of this, how do we all think strategically to fulfill the EFCA vision of raising up a million disciple-makers—an undertaking worthy of our best effort together? Dan Moose, Dave Linde, and I, in consulting with ministry leaders over the years, have found the following five-fold map helpful in giving direction to fruitful, innovative kingdom initiatives in the harvest field.
- Think missiologically. As the culture continues to change rapidly, becoming increasingly dissimilar to our church subculture, we do well to think of our ministry context in the same way missionaries would. What persons around us are beyond the reach of our current ministry expressions and efforts because of cultural or subcultural differences? Let’s seek to study, understand, appreciate, and engage a different (sub)culture so that Christ’s glory as Lord of all people—not just of those who are comfortably similar to us—will be displayed.
- Envision radically. We must go to the root of things in assessing how to cross (sub)cultural thresholds. The root of things is what the Bible instructs us to do—distinguished from the forms in which we do it. Holding to the Biblical function (the root) while being flexible in the (sub)cultural form is one way of being radical. The other way is going beyond the familiar. Missiological thinking will point us toward forms and expressions of ministry that may be quite different from what we are currently used to. They will be radical in that sense.
- Discern collaboratively. Missiological thinking and radical envisioning will raise possibilities and perplexities about the way forward. How do we decide which path to take? Answer: by collaboration with other leaders—locally, regionally, and district-wide. This is substantive collaboration, prayerfully seeking and sharing wisdom about how to cross “borders” missiologically and radically to make disciples of persons who are beyond our current reach. We need each other to discern the way forward in our local settings.
- Lead judiciously. Leading forward in ventures that are missiologically based and radically shaped, even though collaboratively vetted, will be risky. Misunderstanding can hinder or divide. So can hasty initiative. Careful leadership is needed to make progress forward without needlessly alienating those who don’t yet embrace an unfamiliar and uncomfortable ministry initiative.
- Multiply intentionally. Countering the trend of an ever-increasing unreached segment of our population will require movements of the gospel greater than what we are currently seeing. Multiplication will be a means by which such movement is sustained. Intentionally cultivating multiplication at all levels—individuals, groups, teams, leaders, churches—is needed to actually move beyond merely talking about it.
This map is general enough to apply to any ministry setting, yet will lead to specific, Spirit-led outcomes, unique to every setting and ministry.