What’s it gonna take to reach our city?
First, a work of God. No person, church or network – no matter how healthy and active – can transform a city. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed. And this only happens in response to the faithful and faith-filled prayers of God’s people.
Second, a unified team. Our goal as a regional network is to help unify all the streams of God’s work throughout Tampa Bay. We are one church, with one mission – to glorify the name of Jesus!
Third, a common vision. We need to get on the same page. If every church and every believer pulls in a different direction we will not see a movement. We need to align together around a common vision and strategy.
The Primer is designed to help us perceive the Operating System by which we approach ministry both in our individual churches and in our city. Most of us (if we’re honest) are governed by the Church Growth O.S. We feel successful if, and only if, our own church is growing. (And the more it’s growing the better we feel.) But is this the right O.S.? Is a growing church enough of a goal?
The phrase that unified and energized Christ Together over the last 15 years has been “every man, woman and child.” What would it take to reach every living soul in our city?
Once we see the magnitude of the need and the mission, we quickly realize that one growing church – even a mega church – simply cannot get it done alone. So we need a change of mindset. In fact, we need a wholesale change of Operating System. That’s what the Primer is designed to begin.
Grab 3-4 pastors in within a few miles of your church and spend 3 hours together over lunch every month for the next six months. The Primer will guide your discussion.
In short, it’s the shift Eric Swanson describes in his excellent book, To Transform a City – the movement from a mission to “build our church” to the bigger vision “to reach our city.”
Most of us look at the seven sectors of society and seek to draw people from those sectors into the life of our church. This is a vital part of what it means to be and do church, but it is not the end, but the beginning of our larger mission. We gather so we can go! We draw people in so we can send them back out! Yes, we bring in as many as we can, energize them with worship, train and encourage them – and then we send them back out as salt and light. We are not fundamentally collectors but rather mobilizers. The church is not a museum to display God’s trophies of grace. It is a training center to prepare and send out proclaimers of His grace!
Here is an overview of what the Primer covers:
1. Operating System – When do you feel successful? How influenced are we by the church growth idol? To what extent are our churches (and leaders) aligned around this OS? What would it take to replace the church growth OS with the Gospel Saturation OS in our hearts, our churches and our city? 4 needed PRIORITY shifts:
- From collection to mobilization
- From attendance to transformation
- From competition to collaboration
- From addition to multiplication
These four shifts grow out of 4 core convictions: movement, kingdom, harvest and disciple.
2. Movement – What is the “win” for your church? What is the “win” for The Church in Tampa Bay? Are we content with a program that grows our church or are we ready to pursue a movement of God that will impact our whole region? What is God’s WHY? What is His big picture purpose? How can we align around that purpose (the gospel saturation of cities, regions and the world!)? What might we need to let go of or adjust to start making the priority shifts above?
3. Kingdom – How do you distinguish YOUR church from THE Church in Tampa Bay from The Kingdom of God in Tampa Bay? What does The Kingdom look like in Tampa Bay? What if all of God’s people and all of our collective resources were unleashed, not to build local kingdoms under church names but to build The Kingdom, together?
4. Harvest – Is your assignment primarily WITHIN your church or primarily OUTSIDE your church? What is your responsibility to EVERY man, woman and child (EMWC) within a minute’s walk of your house? What is your church’s responsibility to every man, woman and child within 3 miles of your property? How can we redirect our vision as leaders and as churches from only internal to also (or primarily?) external – to the harvest? What if several churches that shared geography committed to OWN the lostness of that community? What if we created a “circle of accountability” and developed a plan to reach EMWC in it, together?
5. Disciple – What would it take to reach EMWC in Tampa Bay? How many new churches? How many new ministries? How effective are we NOW at making disciples who make disciples? To what extent are we seeing MULTIPLICATION v. addition in our churches and ministries? How could a disciplemaking movement transform our churches and our city? “If we are not seeing evangelism in our people then we have a discipleship problem.”
6. Convictions – How can we connect the vision of gospel saturation in the Bay to reality in our churches? How can we apply the convictions above to implement the 4 priority shifts? What are the next steps in your church, with your leadership team? What are the next steps for us in our shared geography? What about in the city at large?