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Where Do We Go From Here?

unsure[1].jpgGrowth trajectories often take off in directions that baffle even the experts. Who can predict what will work, or when the right elements will come together to produce a spiritual explosion? The concepts of reaching the lost, making disciples and mothering churches resist easy and painless human analysis. Nevertheless, it is time for us to step back, gather our senses and envision our next launch.

Plenty of ideas are out there. “The customer is king”, some believe, even in the church. Recently, a church marquee I saw fawned “All our seats have first class service.” Others insist that we “do the demographics.” Advertising blitzes, image re-casting, reworked strategies, media innovations, organizational shake-ups, extreme service makeovers, small group start-ups, redesigned logos, literature with pizzazz, group targeting, shifting meeting times and a thousand other changes, from massive to minute, capture our imagination today. Something—-anything—-needs to be done to get us moving.

All of these things work. None of these things work. Some did, and now don’t. Some didn’t, and now do. Admittedly, I am not being too helpful here. The point is that we need to fish for the right strategy that will work for each situation and it may not come through analysis. It will come via the biblical model of seeking the face of God through prayer, and then getting out there to start sowing the seed. When we don’t know what will work, we must rely on the conviction that something will work. The sower in the parable was not held responsible for the soil on which he sowed the seed, even though much of it landed on hard, stony and parched ground. His job was to broadcast the seed, so that’s what he did. He knew that a crop was never harvested that did not first begin with the planting season. Planting methods aside, the basic cycle of life remains unchanged from the dawn of creation.

The United Pentecostal Church , International looks toward a future alive with prospects of phenomenal growth. New fields of ethnic, social, economic and geographic differences continually break open to the same seed sown two thousand years ago. New methods of planting guarantee wider coverage; new ways of harvesting lead to greater retention; new plans for discipleship strengthen converts; new technologies make all of them hugely more effective. All of them beg to be implemented today.

First, where are we now? Our inventory fact sheet is impressive. It includes physical assets, a publishing house, a trained army of evangelists and crusaders, an array of pastors and churches, scores of Apostolic publications, Bible colleges, a seminary, campgrounds, conferences, developed ministries and leaders in place. Yet, as important as these assets are, one thing supercedes them all—-an all-consuming desire to reach the world and change it. That desire fueled the efforts of the first church and they succeeded in their mission without the considerable advantages our modern age has given us. We grossly err if we engage in tweaking and embellishing our vast holdings as though they existed for our pleasure. God did not give us what we have today to wallow in self-entertainment, but to totally invest it into his divine purpose—-seeking and saving the lost. If we only concern ourselves with hard drive upgrades and choosing new color schemes, we may well end up missing the planting season.

Where do we go from here? Four paths lead out from this question: where, we, go and here. We need to know where to go. We need unity in our efforts so we do not waste or cancel out our resources. We need a plan of action that gets the job done. We need to bring our entire present physical and spiritual capabilities to bear on the challenge.

1. We need to know where to go. The sheer number of people in the world today obliges us to reach a new level of growth. Some of us can go by mass evangelism, others by local revivals and home Bible studies, still others by one soul at a time. The one thing we must not do is mire down in the status quo or in negative energy drains. Jesus said to go the highways (public arenas) and hedges (private settings) to bring them in.

2. We need each other. A hokey cliché? No. Withdrawing into isolationism or retreating into the smug comfort of a few cronies runs counter to accomplishing the bigger task before us. No one needs much help to do a small job; tackling the big job, however, calls for many hands and great cooperation. Those who see the global need understand that the church cannot back down into a cozy little enclave. We need massive forces working in concert to get to the future where we belong.

3. We need to act. Don’t spend so much time figuring out what to do that you have no time to do it. Better to try and fail at a half dozen strategies before finding out the right one than to interminably pore over the possibilities but never get started. Go, go, go!

4. We must go from here with what we have. We are who we are and we have what we have. Understand it, accept it and get over it. The future has a starting point. This is it and we are the ones.

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