Once in a Lifetime – John Stumbo Video Blog No. 78

January 12, 2020

12:50

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This month, John shares three reasons he wishes everyone in the Alliance family could at some point in their lives be involved in a church plant or a multi-site campus.

Transcript

I wish that every Alliance layperson and every Alliance licensed worker could at some point in their lives be involved in a church plant or multi-site campus. I have 12 minutes to give credibility to that statement. Thanks for joining me.

Yes, I wish that everybody in the Alliance family at some point in life could be involved in church planting in some expression, either on the sending side or on the new side. Let me give you three reasons why.

First, one reason that the Book of Acts is so exciting is that it follows the route of church planting all the way from Jerusalem to Rome. Exciting things happen as the church multiplies. A. W. Tozer observed, “Miracles often follow the plow.” He was observing that through our missionary efforts internationally, that as we were taking the gospel to still-to-be-reached places, God seemed to show up in extraordinary ways. Well, I think we could say similar things for the advancing of the Church of Jesus Christ here in the United States—that exciting things happen when the Church multiplies. As we place ourselves in that unknown zone where faith is required—a local church decides to extend its efforts—and we take the faith-filled risk of sending people off or being one of those people who go, we are placing ourselves in the position of faith. And God honors faith. Faith is expressed in those frontiers of church planting.

And that leads me to my second point. New frontiers are all around us. In so many cities today there [are] new communities arriving with shopping, red lights, businesses, roads, condos . . . subdivisions filled with crews that are roofing 20 houses at a time on single-family dwellings that all look alike . . . cranes and bulldozers . . . and [a] church is largely absent in many of those communities, and those families moving in need a new expression of the church. And no community is complete; this culture is not full without a gospel-preaching, Bible-believing church present.

May The Alliance rise to those moments. Rural communities, once with an adequate gospel witness, no longer have that because the church is closed or the church exists but no longer believes in the authority of God’s Word and preaches the true gospel. And so, a new expression needs to arise—from county seats to cornfields.

In some places it’s not geographic, but it’s a linguistic or cultural divide that needs to be crossed with a new expression of the church. Too long overlooked are the deaf, the prisoner, the addict . . . let’s bring the church to them. And now, as so many new immigrants have come to our communities, Samaria is alive in our communities. And so, we need to cross that cultural- linguistic barrier and bring the gospel to the new immigrant.

I was on the phone this week with an Alliance pastor who is serving a church that’s soon to be 100 years old in a town of 2,000—always been an “English only” and now they serve the Lao- and Spanish-speaking populations among them. And I love it!

Finally, church planting is a holy disruption to our safe zones, our norms, our well-established practices, forcing us to ask questions that we may not have recently or adequately asked of ourselves. Questions like: Why do we do what we do? How do we best bring the life of Christ to our community? What is unnecessary religious baggage, and what are helpful religious practices? How is the gospel uniquely positioned to meet the unique needs of our own community? Questions such as these are holy disruptions that church planting forces, and I think that’s healthy from time to time.

I’m excited to let you know that in 2019 alone, The Christian and Missionary Alliance in the United States had the joy of establishing over 50 new church plants and sites. I want you to hear a couple of those stories now.

 

[Jonathan Schaeffer] Grace Church began about six decades ago, and it’s just a tiny church plant from another Alliance church in Cleveland, Ohio. And since that time [it] has continued saying, “What can we do to make a difference in our neighborhoods and in the nations of the world?”

The deaf ministry really began with the vision of one person, Jen Kerrick, who began to have this passion to say, “I think this is like an under-reached, least-reached kind of people.” We began to see a small deaf fellowship. Then, we began having interpreting [at] one of our services. There came a point where the church leadership said, “Hey, let’s consider having a pastor here.” We began to pray and just say, “God, would You lead the right person our way?”

 

[Joe Dixon] I’ve been deaf all my life. When I was 15, I realized I needed to surrender my life—to really have a relationship with Jesus. And that’s when I took ownership for my faith. I saw a preacher preaching one time when I realized, I think God’s calling me to do this. After I got training, I started looking to become a full-time pastor. I couldn’t find the right one. So, I told God, “I can’t find anything; You’ll have to show me. I have to accept a full-time job to support my family.” The same week I started it, I got an email from Grace Church, and I didn’t know anything about Cleveland or Ohio or Grace Church or the C&MA. So, my wife and I both knew that we had to do it—we had to step out in faith and obedience. We would be disappointed for the rest of our lives if we didn’t. I arrived at Grace and had so much support, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed. But I did wonder what this was going to feel like in the first month or two.

Signs of Grace Deaf Church was launched in 2015. That first service I remember feeling, I hope I don’t mess up. We made some mistakes, sure, but it was the start of something new and special. To be deaf and to hear the gospel that’s not in sign, then they’re not getting the gospel at all. That’s why there’s only 2 percent that know Jesus Christ that are deaf and hard of hearing in the world; they’ve been isolated for so long that for many of them this is the first time that they’re really feeling like they belong to a family. We’ve seen over 30 in the past five years who have given their lives to Christ or been baptized. This year alone we’ve had about 8.

Those whose lives have been transformed by Jesus in the deaf community understand how much they missed in the past and they want their friends and their families who are deaf and hard of hearing to know that same truth. And they’re doing a precious pass-along to reach the community for Jesus. We’re a small church, maybe 20 to 30 members. Only one pastor. But we still feel the call to go and start other deaf churches, because there’s nothing out there. Last week on Saturday we started our second deaf church plant. That event gathered about 20 people, and they all said that they want to do this again. Because there’s nothing like it. And this is the deaf reaching the deaf.

 

[Jonathan] A church’s best evangelistic potential is in the first five years. So, we as a church, we’re decades old and so if we start new churches, we’re just maximizing our potential to reach new people. Starting new churches can just continue to birth that vision or that evangelistic zeal within the hearts of God’s people.

To see God’s power work in the deaf community, we never would’ve had the opportunity to see if we didn’t join this plant.

 

[John] Stepping out in faith and joining God’s plan. Church planting from a large church—thousands. And from one of our small churches—dozens.

And now I’m with Pastor Doug here in Colorado Springs. Front Range Alliance—a mid-sized church who has taken the recent step to do a multi-site model. Tell me, why multi-site versus church plant in a traditional sense?

 

[Doug Goodin] Sure, well that was our original plan, to do the traditional church plant. As we researched that and discovered that so many church planters get burned out and overwhelmed early on, we determined we were going to have a healthy mother church and a healthy daughter church. So, we needed to grow to a certain size to pull that off and get the financial resources. We built this building in order to accomplish that and the goal was: When we got to the place where we’ve got two services, we grow big enough and we launch. When we got to that place to do two services, the thought occurred to me, Is there really that much difference between a nine o’clock service and an eleven o’clock service in the same building, versus two different locations? And we have strong leadership, strong elders, strong admin team . . . we can handle more ministry here, and we had the leaders ready to go; we thought, Let’s just launch and not wait. And so we did, and it’s worked out.

 

[John] So you took the risk of sending people from your own congregation to a different site, how’s it gone back in the home church?

 

[Doug] Yeah, we’re growing in both campuses, which is wonderful. The Lord is bringing people; we’re seeing people come to faith, we’re seeing new people come to our campuses, and we’re already talking about the next one that we want to launch . . . because our vision is to fill the city of Colorado Springs with disciples of Christ.

 

[John] Pastor Doug, I’m grateful that you’ve got that heart to see the whole city reached. Are you experiencing that people are coming to faith in another campus that may not have, had you only stayed in one site?

 

[Doug] Yeah, absolutely. One of the benefits and the results of this was, we had a lot of people that for some reason had not tapped into leadership and/or reaching out. Once we sent them off—it’s like a startup company, right? They had to do what it takes, and it started blossoming. People who had never, as far as we know, had never really reached out to their neighbors, coworkers, suddenly they’re much more interested in doing that, simply because they sort of have to. There’s a survival mentality from the other campus. And then people here at the first campus, same kind of thing . . . so, we’ve seen people come to the Lord and new workers raised up.

 

[John] Well, Doug, thank you. You’ve given us a gift, not only of hosting us today for this shoot but also being one more example of The Christian Missionary Alliance family, saying “Lord, what’s next? What do You have for us? What’s the next frontier for us to take the gospel?” And you’re leading the way, so thank you.

There’re so many more stories that could be told. I want to be an advocate for church planting. I do hope that every Alliance person has an opportunity at some point in life to be involved in this excitement, this pressing forward of the Kingdom of God to peoples and places where the Church does not yet exist. Would you add church planting to your prayer list? Would you prayerfully consider at what point in time [how] you might be involved? Church Planting Sunday is coming up in February—an annual event where we try to prioritize church planting among us.

As this new year begins, consider the fact that miracles often follow the plow. Maybe church planting is an expression of that in your region. Whatever God is whispering to you today from this video, I trust that we will be people who continue to take faith-filled risks, knowing that God honors faith. Let’s step forward, Alliance family, into this new year of what God has for us.

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