“When is your launch date?” That is a question we hear frequently. Certainly it is a fair question & a good question. And no doubt the approach of planning for & advertising a big launch service has worked in some contexts. As one who loves to preach & looks forward to regularly preaching again this model is attractive to me. And judging by the interest in Restore Church expressed by those around metro Detroit we could probably pull off a fairly well attended “launch service” this spring.
In our context, however, such an approach in the long run would be counterproductive. The number in attendance, formal sermon, great band, prepared facility, etc might look good from a distance but, without a significant involvement of 48202 locals, it would communicate to our community (however sincere our intentions) that we’ll put on church while you come & watch. It will not breed & feed an indigenous movement. What is more, it will reinforce the popular notion in our context that church is about a special time, a special place, & a special man.
So we are taking a “slow-burn” approach. In this initial & embryonic phase, instead of seeing ourselves as planting a church service, we want to focus on planting the gospel in our local soil, out of which a church will arise. Then, when we advertise “public worship services”, locals will see that Restore is not a transplant from without but a movement from within, as evidenced by the real participation of long-time residents. We believe this deliberate approach will provide lasting traction and long term impact in the 48202.
Frankly, this approach scares the daylights out of me. We can’t manufacture this. God will have to step in. In the last 2 weeks Clete, Ruth, John, Susan, & I met twice to discuss goals for igniting this “slow-burn for long term impact” approach. Each of us has set a goal for a certain number of growing relationships & a certain number of people to come to Christ in these relationships through our witness in the next 3 months. Collectively, we are seeking 32 growing relationships & 6 conversions by April 1. I guess that date is kind of appropriate, April Fool’s Day! We would be fools to think we can make this happen in our strength or by our ability, especially when you consider winter time (& sub-freezing temperatures) is the worst time to meet people. But we remember our God is the God of the impossible and that He is the ultimate & unstoppable missionary, sending His Son to redeem a people for His endless glory!
We are seeking an army of prayer warriors who will relentlessly pray (& recruit others to pray) for the next 3 months that the Lord will breathe on our efforts as we seek the 32 & 6. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would commit to praying for this initiative. I will provide periodic updates to our prayer partners. May God connect us to those He will call to Himself who we can pour ourselves into who will in turn disciple others (2 Tim 2:2).
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)