I am not sure there will be newspapers, blogs or 24/7 cable news in heaven, but what if this headline was about your church? What if it was your local paper? Luke, when he wrote Acts certainly would have included this event if it occurred during the early start of the church. We see in Acts the risks of the apostles as they preached in dangerous situations.
Taking that big risk is always a fear of church leaders. One thing I have seen consistently is that even the best , brightest and most successful pastors I know struggle with taking a risk. There are do-or-die moments every day across our country in church after church. I have rarely seen a successful ministry that has not accomplished some huge, bold faith-filled step sometime in its history.
Usually, a faith-sized endeavor seems to be what it takes to cement the mission and vision–whether it is a building program, the planting of a church, the start of a new service or the hiring of a completely new staff position. In ministries that I have seen fail, it was not for lack of money, smarts or circumstance. It was a combination of a foggy vision and constant avoidance of risk. So, even a calling and good intentions are not enough.
This weekend our lead pastor has made public our intent to pursue an aggressive 25-year dream. The audacity is laughable and yet compelling since the number is so big and our mission would be so well-served. To start a fifth service is indeed bold enough. To go fully into the multi-site-video-venue model is crazy. We would certainly be the first in our town. Yet, this service is only a blip on a journey of faith that the leaders of Neighborhood Church laid out this past year.
The risks are enormous. We are attempting to reach 25,000 people for Christ in 25 years! Who are we to think we can do this? Well, we would be misguided to think our efforts could, but our God can and we will prove that by the fact that it is “just us.” If people are amazed one day of the results, great. They obviously will see God’s hand. But, the idea of putting it out there to aggressively reach our neighbors and world is really something. It is like reading Acts 1:8 and making it personal.
“…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (ESV)
We at Neighborhood Church read this verse as “Redding, Shasta County and the world.” Plug in your city, county and so forth. Plug in your office, your school, your street and your state. When you do this, you will see how audacious the Bible is about the Great Commission (Matthew 24:18-20).
Here is something to chew on: If we think small, we are probably not thinking biblically.