Over the next few weeks we will spend some time working through The Big Idea: focus the message, multiply the impact. The book is part of the Leadership Network Innovation Series. It is written by Dave Ferguson, Jon Ferguson, and Eric Bramlett, who are staff leaders at Community Christian Church in suburban Chicago. Today will look at Chapter 3 entitled, “Creating Missional Velocity”.The authors tell how missional velocity took off after they started a church planting and networking group called New Thing Network. They started planting churches across the country by sending people out from their own church to be part of the leadership of the church plants.
Educated Beyond Obedience
The authors tell of being in Bible College and hearing Juan Carlos Ortiz, who pastors one of the largest churches in Argentina, make a statement. The statement was, “The average Christian is educated to at least three years beyond their level of obedience.” Ortiz went on to explain that there were times he would only preach a handful of sermons to his congregation over the course of a year. He would show up and preach the same sermon week after week until the people started putting it in action. He would preach the sermon until the church began “living the word.”
WOW! What if, as a pastor we stayed on the same sermon (or even just the same sermon topic) for six months until our people started living what we were talking about? In most contexts, we might get a visit from the deacons, or people would begin to leave because we were only talking about one topic.
But I think you can do this in a healthy way. For instance, this year I preached on Jesus. We looked at Jesus from a variety of perspectives but it turned out we were constantly looking at just several themes: Missional, Kingship/Lordship, Restoration & the Gospel, and the Spirit and his relationship to Jesus. The same themes over and over, and I’m seeing that lived out in our church. I hear their stories, and I have modeled that behavior in my own life. As a result, our small church of 50-70, has planted its first church this year, and sent 2 families to be a part of it. We would have planted two had the planter changed his mind after he was assessed. We’ve done ministry to the international community through the Port of New Orleans, which was the first ever church-wide mission trip we made, and regionally we were able to minister to folks in North Carolina through our students. Now I didn’t know this, but it seems we have missional velocity through the Big Idea. Well, sort of. Our children’s ministry sometimes had the same message I was doing, though we were not intentional about aligning that teaching. Makes sense, however.
The reason for this is that it puts the focus on mission and others and takes the focus off information and me through the repetitive teaching and the insistence on application.
What the Big Idea does do is directionally align the entire church. It allows families to have significant spiritual conversations about what they experienced at church, knowing that every family member was focused on the same topic. Therefore, it
- moves the whole family in the same direction,
- moves all small groups in the same direction,
- moves all ministries in the same direction,
- moves all sites and campuses in the same direction
- moves the whole network in the same direction
Big Idea = Speedy Obedience
For a church member, the expectation is church membership. For a Christ follower, the expectation is speedy obedience. The most mature Christ follower is not the person who has been in church the longest but whose heart has been most transformed. And transformation is seen when a person hears God and responds with swift obedience. The repetitiveness of the Big Idea and the emphasis on putting into action what we learn combine to bring about speedy obedience.