Welcome to part 2 of this 5-part blog series, where we’re gaining insight into the heart of New Generations’ approach to the Great Commission.
Harry Brown, President of New Generations, offered much insight on this topic. If you haven’t had a chance to read last week’s blog on the first point, Get Serious About Strategy, we encourage you to read that one first, as it sets the stage for today’s topic. We’re especially excited about this next point because it includes YOU!
Here’s what Harry had to say in regard to the modern-day approach to mission work:
Ordinary people are the only option.
That’s it. Full stop. We built the entire system, everywhere, on professionals, structure, budgets, technology, etc. All of that is complementary. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it’s complementary. Ordinary people are the only option. That’s it. That’s how it was designed at the beginning, and that’s the only way it’s going to work.
So, what’s the backdrop to say something like that?
How many lost people do we have? When people answer, you’re going to get numbers between 5-6 billion. It’s the majority. And of that 5-6 billion, how would you characterize them? I’ll give you three ways to describe them:
- They are highly dispersed
- They are highly diverse
- They are difficult (if it was easy, it would already be done)
So, if you stick that on the wall and say, “How are we going to solve that?” you’re not going to get there without the clarity and strategy that addresses those things.
We’ve been dealing in the missionary enterprise with two fatal flaws. They are everywhere, and they’ve been there forever.
The first is: “Build it and they will come.”
You can characterize this mindset by things like, “This is good stuff.” “You should come get a scoop of this, and you can come over here and do it.” “We have the answer.”
“Build it and they will come” is not a strategy to win.
Here’s the other one: “One size fits all.”
We’ve been pitching that wholesale, and the honest, cold-hard truth is people have preferences.
I did a little homework on Coca-cola to make a point. Those guys are selling two billion servings per day. And there’s something like 500 brands they use to do it. And we all know how they do it－it comes in itty bitty cans, it comes in big bottles, it comes in a lever you pull, it comes with cherry and lime, it comes with caffeine and without caffeine, with and without sugar. Why do they do that? They do that because people have preferences. And those preferences drive their decisions.
If we go “one size fits all,” we’re not going to win, in the sense of 1 Corinthians 9:24, running to win.
The lost are like a giant mosaic. There are all kinds of different shapes and colors, and they all fit together in a picture that God sees. And He says, “Figure out how to get to that segment right there. And do it in a way that’s going to work for that segment right there. Don’t try to take what worked there and make it work for everyone else, because it isn’t going to work.”
We’re not good at that. We want to take what worked well over here and impose it over there and hope for the best. My advocacy is, don’t do that anymore.
I’m going to use a term we all understand, but we don’t think about relating to the Gospel. Going “viral.” We all know what that means with social media, but what does it mean in terms of the Gospel? It means when it leaves you it doesn’t stay like you.
That’s how your crazy cat video can get to China tomorrow. It goes into intersecting circles of influence, and that’s how God has organized the world. For the Great Commission to be completed, it’s going to have to go viral, which means it can’t stay homogeneous. It can’t stay where it has to look and be like you. If it’s going to get its job done, it’s got to be able to transfer with quality, without you into another circle of influence. We have to get after that.
For the Great Commission to be completed, it’s going to have to go viral, which means it can’t stay homogeneous.
I often ask: “Why do you think God left you on this earth after He saved you?” You can ask that question anywhere in the world. Here’s what you’re never going to hear on any sort of percentage basis. You’re never going to hear, “He left me here to bring the Kingdom of God into my circle of influence.” And the reason you’re not going to hear that is because most leadership has never created the paradigm that allows for the behavior to flow in that paradigm. And so, people don’t see it.
I grew up in the church. I came to faith at the age of 12. I got all the pedigree, all the Bible school, and all the yada yada, and no one ever got to my soul and said, “It’s your job.” All they taught me was, “It’s our job. What you’re supposed to do is show up, look right, act right, pay up, and you’re supposed to make introductions. And we’re gonna take it from here. We appreciate your help.”
That is not a formula to win.
Where are the lost? They are very dispersed, they are very diverse, and they are very difficult, and they’re not coming to the build-it-and-they-will-come, one-size-fits-all model. I’m not knocking that. It works for some people, so let it have its impact. But here’s the problem. The vast percentage say, “That ain’t for me.” And they aren’t coming, because it’s neither relevant nor attractive. So we have to get to the place where there’s ownership. My ownership.
We have to get to the place where there’s ownership…my ownership.
I own my circle of influence to bring the Kingdom of God into it. And it’s not because anybody from the front preached at me, it’s because God Himself is asking it of me. It’s my primary purpose for being. It’s the reason He left me here after He saved me.
So here’s my headline statement for that. The only way – full stop, blinking red – the only way to complete the Great Commission is when ordinary people are multiplying disciples in their natural networks. That “ordinary” person could be a company CEO. What they are not is a trained professional, trained in ministry.
It’s ordinary people not making a disciple, but multiplying disciples in their natural networks. And it’s through that mechanism that the Spirit of God used the early church to turn the world upside down. That is still His plan and His purpose to do it today.
We invite you to keep reading with us as we expand on point number three of Harry’s conversation next week! Obedience is the epicenter.