“We need people to go, but we also need people to stay for the specific purpose of raising up others to send.”
Now, understand that I was raised in a traditional, Baptist home. We didn’t do dreams. But in that moment, I knew instinctively what to say. I explained the gospel to him (again) for over an hour, but (sadly) it was still too much for him to believe at that point. I will never, ever forget what he said next: “J.D., I know what my dream means. God sent you here to help me find the way of salvation. But, my friend, you are going back home, and you are the only Christian I have ever known. Who will now show me the way?”
Ahmed is never far from my mind when we lay our hands on someone, commissioning them to go. God never relinquished my call to reach the Ahmeds of this world, even when he directed me to live in the United States.
We need people to go, but we also need people to stay for the specific purpose of raising up others to send. Let me share a couple of practical ways this has worked out for us.
We first ask staff to commit to at least three years in a new role before they go. Spending at least three years in their role helps ensure that our people aren’t subjected to a constant pastor merry-go-round.
We challenge our church planters to use planting as an opportunity to call people into deeper discipleship. We challenge our planters to aim first for those who are waiting to get in the game rather than the low-hanging fruit (elders and key leaders). For many of these people, being part of a church plant will be one of the most important steps they take in their discipleship, setting their life on a new trajectory of following Christ.
These two measures help our church ensure we keep leadership in place long enough to care for our people well and reproduce. Those who stay behind raise up the next generation of disciples to be sent out. In one sense, their role here is one of the main ways they make an impact over there. By making disciples here, they help us to reach the world.
If you’re are serious about leading a multiplying church, then the church you lead will start here but will continually need to go there—not once or twice. You must be continually seeking to send leaders and teams to start new churches.
As leader of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, J.D. Greear champions church multiplication. He is co-author (with Mike Daniel) of the Exponential eBook, Sending Capacity, Not Seating Capacity and author of the book, Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send (Zondervan)—a 2015 Outreach Resource of the Year. For more on church planting and multiplication, visit Exponential.org.