In Austin there are some students at UT who are committed to seeing the Gospel spread in a simple/reproducible way that brings light to darkness and life the death. They are determined to learn new, and fresh ways of living out their purpose as the ecclesia in the their city. This has been modeled for us in overseas missions for years, and it would behoove us to learn from these movements.
We must stop practicing evangelism through extraction in our attempts to fill and grow our current institutional churches. Do some people find home in these churches? Absolutely. Will these alone serve as a conduit for the Gospel to spread rapidly throughout the states, infiltrating the darkest places in our culture? Of course not. In our current mindset we are beginning to see many outwardly focused institutional faith communities, which is a beautiful thing. However, even these leave us with only one option if we actually do go into a dark place to reach that area with the Gospel. (Which is very rare for an individual believer, or group of believers to do. We are typically too busy with our “church friends & activities”, and uncomfortable with sin and darkness to do so). That option is to extract a person out of their current circles of influence in order “save them”, and then “church them”. There are many con’s to this form of practice, which I hope to dissect more in the future. So, not only does it remove the new disciple from the places in their lives that they have the most influence, but it also creates a bitterness in the minds of those who remain in that former circle. Those who remain behind are confused as to where their friend has gone, and are now resentful towards the Christian who “stole their friend”.
I am convinced that we must start equipping and empowering believers to take the Gospel into dark places, and plant Gospel roots deeply there. This means that NEW communities/church bodies must take root/birth in that place. This is much different from extracting people from one place, and giving them no outlet to grow other than an “established church”, which is far removed from their previous circles. For this to happen we must have Spiritual Fathers, current Christian leaders, and current local churches who will begin to release apostolic leaders into these cracks of society by legitimizing the birth of new communities of faith that will multiply, and flourish naturally.
The key here is that believers must be affirmed, equipped, and empowered by current “Christian leaders” through acknowledging these new communities as legitimate local churches. A freeing realization I have recently stumbled upon is the fact that in order to begin legitimizing these new communities of faith does NOT necessarily mean we need to DE-legitimize the former. (I believe that many pastors have walls built up towards organic expressions of church because those practicing simple church have sought to DE-legitimize what those pastors are doing. I am guilty of this. This makes it impossible to function healthily as the body of Christ)
May we truly begin to respect one another, and work together as the body of Christ, realizing that none of us can reach EVERYONE apart from the other. In the name of Jesus may we begin to recognize apostolic leaders, and release them to start new communities of faith in un-reached areas. I wonder what would happen if we started recognizing the apostolic call in people’s lives as much as we recognize people’s “call” to “lead worship” on a stage or “teach” an existing body of believers. The focus here is making new disciples, and not simply trying to protect or sustain the only thing we know. Young leaders: be affirmed, be released, be encouraged, and be set free to fulfill the great commission.
I am believing God to raise up Spiritual Fathers to affirm you in your pursuit. However, do not allow the lack of approval, affirmation, and legitimization from current “Christian leaders” hinder you from pursuing what God has instructed for you to do.