If we were going to build a 400,000 house, we would start with a blueprint and a well defined plan. We would never “wing it” with an investment like that. Since, a church plant investment includes people’s lives and souls, we must begin with a very clear and well thought-out blueprint. Jesus said,
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28–30 ESV)
Because we are planting an entire gospel movement, our blueprint needs to include detailed plans about how we will grow the church and then how we will move people through a process of maturity, service, leadership, and mission. I envision a church that not only aggressively reaches out to win lost souls for Jesus, but unapologetically trains and disciples those converts into world class missionary leaders and church planters. In time, our church must become a center for leadership training and resources. Our mantra might sound something like, “If you’re not here to engage the mission, then please go somewhere else. There are plenty of churches out there who need, and want, bench warmers. We don’t want bench warmers, we want disciples of Jesus on mission to change the world!”
Once we launch, we will begin to grow, and as new people align themselves with Jesus Christ and his mission (Jn 17, Mt 28), we must immediately communicate the discipleship process. That process must also be unbelievably simple. Apple and Google have proven that people gravitate toward and understand simple. Thom Rainer has written an entire book entitled Simple Church, where he expounds on the importance of simple. Our plan is a simple, three-fold plan that is built into the very fabric of who we are. This is reflected by our logo and mission statement. Here is the plan — plain and simple:
••• a simple logo and mission
The logo is simple and clean yet strongly reflects rich and historic theology. The three overlapping circles have been used as a symbol for the Trinity since the earliest days of the church. Within the three circle rests another very historic symbol — u — the ‘triquetra’, or ‘trinity knot‘, can be seen once these circles overlap. Our logo and mission is essentially a trinitarian system. A thorough study of the Trinity, in any systematic theological book, will certainly excite your mind to the illustrative possibilities the logo will provide for discipleship.
For MISSIODEI, the logo represents what true discipleship looks like. The true disciple is converted, not once, but 3 times. He is converted to Christ, Church, and Mission. This can be clearly seen in the biblical metaphors of what a church is. For instance the Body/Head metaphor teaches that CHRIST is the head. So, first we must be converted to Jesus through the gospel.
Christ is the head of a body, and that body is the CHURCH. Therefore, the disciple must also be converted to the Church. He must come to realize and embrace that he cannot live the Christian life alone, but that God has ordained the body to grow, mature and serve together in community. We can not be a body, connected to Christ as head, without also being intimately connected to that body.
Finally, that body has a purpose. The body grows into its full stature when it works together in obedience to the head. We must be on MISSION to be his witnesses and make disciples. These three conversions can be seen in the cornerstone/living stones metaphor, in the harvest metaphors, and in many passages through out the New Testament.
••• a simple strategy for discipleship
Our strategy to lead people though this process is a simple, three-fold plan using: Preaching, Discipleship, and Small Groups.
Preaching• First, we will constantly teach, from the pulpit what true discipleship looks like and what missio dei means. We will tenaciously communicate that God is a sending/missionary God who sent the Son and has now sent his Church to proclaim the Gospel. The Church exists for mission and MISSIODEI exists to train and move people for that mission.
Discipleship• Secondly, we will have a simple and clear discipleship process. Each and every member will participate in 3 courses of instruction and training in order to become a covenant member of MISSIODEI. This will be the extent of our “sunday school” program. MISSIODEI should be purposefully designed to move each and every member to the very center of those 3 circles. If our church is truly designed to move each and every member to that center, then it will also, by that same design, frustrate those who are not in the center. This is intentional, because we want those who are not in the center to sense a need to either move there or move on. We do not want to foster a new kind of legalism, but we strongly believe that the true disciple will: pursue Christ; love, serve and grow in a church community; and engage culture in mission. If we are going to make disciples, then we must make true disciples. Therefore, it will be the very important responsibility of our pastors and elders to insure that each and every member of our flock become a true disciple.
Small Groups• Thirdly, we will encourage every member to participate in koinonia community groups. These groups will meet in homes through out the week and will center around a specific mission. Each group will not be formed until it has establish an outreach mission. These groups will meet weekly for fellowship, study and prayer but will choose some weeks to serve their specific outreach ministry. Individuals will thus be encouraged to look for outlets to serve the city, the hurting, and the lost; and then develop a koinonia group around that ministry. These groups will be encouraged to grow and multiply and will thus serve as strategic bases for future church plants.
••• an aggressive strategy for multiplication
As we move covenant members through our discipleship process, it is our strategic goal that many people will be consumed by a passion for leadership, mission and church planting. The last course must include leadership training that will equip laity for leading community ministries, multiplying small groups, or being a part of a church planting team. Not everyone is called to lead, but our hope is that many will hear the call. We certainly do not want to neglect our flock by failing to equip and encourage them to lead.
The details of these 3 courses, and leadership training will be developed by our core team in the initial 6 months of creating our vision and goals, and will certainly undergo a process of evolution as we learn more effective ways to lead people through such a process. It is my hope that MISSIODEI will become a vibrant center for leadership training and resources and will become a place that naturally attracts dynamic leaders.