Streams and Buckets

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Habakkuk 2:14

The glory of the Lord Jesus is spreading across the globe in fulfillment of promises like this one in Habakkuk and others like Acts 1:8 and Matthew 16:18. Jesus is building His church and nothing can stop His purpose, power and plan. “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all nations… and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

How does the glory of the Lord spread? Through the witness of normal Christians like you and me; one conversation at a time; one act of loving service at a time. As people respond to the good news of Jesus Christ we train them to share this contagious message with others. The church was designed to multiply. It was the original viral movement.

All over the world, Disciple Making Movements are accelerating the spread of the gospel and the expansion of the church. These DMMs are gospel streams that move and multiply rapidly because they do not depend on paid, seminary trained pastors or expensive church buildings. They very simply train believers to become trainers. In short, DMMs prepare and expect everyday Christians to multiply. And they do!

To learn more about international DMMS, click here and order T4T with Ying Kai. Learn from the Four Fields and from Obedience Based Discipleship how to apply the three thirds group meeting, graciously expecting obedience, especially to the great commission.

To learn more about applying DMM here in the U.S. order Damian Gerke’s practical and insightful In the Way. He gently but clearly presents the challenge for the American church, contrasting it with DMMs in other areas.

In short, DMMs are fast moving, agile, flexible streams. “Church as we know it” in the U.S. is not fast, agile or flexible. The typical American church is not a stream, it is a bucket.

There are all different kinds of buckets, in all different shapes, colors and sizes. But American churches – for many reasons that have accrued over the last couple of centuries – have settled into patterns that make multiplication almost impossible.

The best established churches today ADD – they do not multiply. They add a few new believers each year. Large evangelistic churches might add hundreds of new believers. But it’s still addition through programs and very gifted preachers. It is not the multiplication of gospel trainers. At best the everyday believer is mobilized to invite friends and neighbors to church, which results in the addition of more people to that church.

Churches that are able to add in this way, then add worship services and new campuses to extend their market reach in an area. The multi-site movement, which has become the latest trend in the church growth movement, is large, expensive addition – but it is still addition.

Christ Together is calling American churches to abandon the church growth operating system and replace it with a vision for gospel saturation. Pastors need to repent of building our own little kingdoms and start working together to built the kingdom in our regions. Click here to learn more about this vision and strategy.

The bottom line is that traditional churches are buckets. When they are healthy, they add. (Otherwise, they leak.) We need to work to get all gospel-preaching churches healthy and growing. We need every available bucket filled and overflowing.

But we also need to be realistic that if we keep doing what we have been doing for the last 100 years or more, we will not reach our neighbors much less the nations. The trend in gospel progress in America has been pretty flat.

Praise the Lord there are fresh expressions all around us of missional communities like The Tampa Underground and DMMs (yes, in America) like One Body Church (led by Lee Wood and Damian Gerke in Tampa Bay). Church as we know it needs to learn from innovators like these and train our people to be more actively evangelistic and more intentional to train trainers. We need to celebrate growing, moving streams like these and not discourage or work against them.

Tampa Bay needs every single bucket and every stream we can get! We need to learn from each other and work together so the good news of Jesus Christ can spill over from all of us onto the millions of thirsty souls who still need to see, hear and respond to the gospel.

Let’s pray for and pour into more streams and buckets in our city!

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