What’s the “Win?”
Choice Crossway Warriors – What a joy it has been to serve alongside you faithful saints within the Network. It is hard to imagine ministering any other place on the planet. You spur me on, encourage me and are just great “blokes” to hang with!
Over the years as a church planter and founding pastor I have often had to reassess what the “win” is in my life. What is my goal? What are we after? How will I know that I have reached it? What will it take to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:23),” when I stand before our great and worthy Lord and Savior?
I am confident that we as Crossway pastors might all quickly assert from God’s Word, that the win is faithfulness: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).” Yet, this prompts another vital question, “Faithfulness to what?” Pastoral ministry has to be one of the greatest callings known to man. We are servants, supernaturally empowered to lead God’s blood-bought people. Yet, in the midst of our daily divine duties there are ever present competitors, both noble and ignoble, for our affections and for our time. Sometimes it can be difficult for me to differentiate between the two.
Let me submit one aspect for your consideration in fulfilling our high call and high privilege. True success is faithfulness to God’s call to make disciples as we “plant and support healthy, reproducing churches and regional networks of churches throughout the world for the glory of God.” And as someone once said, “That success is not so much in our seating capacity but our sending capacity.”
What does this mean for the Crossway Network of churches and what does this not mean? It does not mean we cannot grow into mega-churches (1000, 1500 or 2000 depending on who you read). Praise God for the increase (I hope Crossway Chapel Aurora will be a church of 1000 some day)! A church of 1000 people can do a lot of kingdom good for a lot of people. Also, a small church does not necessarily mean it is faithful to the great commission. In fact, in some cases it can be an ever-present reminder or indicator of the exact opposite.
So what then am I really saying in the statement, “Faithfulness is found not in our seating capacity but our sending capacity?” I mean only that we keep the win, the goal, the end-game in view and let God determine the breadth or size of each of our churches as he wills. I mean that we focus on pastoring our people, developing disciples that make disciples from the harvest and for the harvest. We regularly remind our people that we do not exist for ourselves and our remaining time on earth is not for our personal happiness (which is realized more clearly and ultimately in new heaven and earth). Instead, our time is to be centered on the eternal happiness of others. This necessitates an expectation of liminality (risk with adventure) as each of Jesus’ people, whom we shepherd and equip reach out to their families, neighbors, works associates, community and in finality unreached world.
Then as faithful servants of our great King, we vehemently resist the western religious notion that success is in size, wealth and prosperity. We understand our sacred role as stewards in winning, building and sending our best to reach those far from the Savior (Acts 4:12; 14:22-23; 20:24). Thus we prayerfully and dependently create a sending culture that arises from our language and expectations with the emerging leaders we are winning and building. Our success or faithfulness to our great call is in the sending capacity of our individual churches, not the seating or inherent size of our individual church families. Again, please don’t miss my earlier stated sentiment to be numbered among our mega-churches someday. Yet, only in that it might be fruit of dynamic work of God the Spirit in the Chicago-Metro area as we are planting healthy reproducing churches yearly throughout the world in gospel starved communities, cities and villages.
I know for many of you among this choice cadre of warriors that I am speaking to the choir. You have heard, modeled and inspired many of us. Even recently, I have been greatly encouraged in my limited awareness within the Network, by the Czech Republic, Wilmington, Windsor, Fox Valley and Mountain View. They have all planted new churches or are preparing teams to be sent out soon to the harvest. This has required a courageous faith in the great adventure of kingdom quest. I also know that these new plants were in many cases launched with the sacrifice and significant investment of other churches within the region. This is one of the reasons why I love you men as fellow brothers in this great fight.
So, let this be a simple submittal and reminder from one unworthy fellow nobody who is seeking to tell everybody about the Somebody. Ultimately, our win, true success or faithfulness in part and in the truest sense is ultimately not seen in the seating capacity but ultimately in the sending capacity.
Happy in the Harvest,