Keeping Up With the Harvest

At Worship Harvest Church in Uganda, missional communities are literally front and center. Most weeks during Sunday morning worship, a different missional community group of five to 30 people takes the stage, and one or more of its leaders tell a story of God at work through the group.

Perhaps God used the group to touch a need in its neighborhood through an act of service. Perhaps someone was physically healed. Or best of all, perhaps someone in the group led a family member or friend to faith in Christ.

“Missional communities—MCs—are the core of our church,” says Moses Mukisa, founding pastor and apostle to the church’s many locations, hosting centers and church plants. MCs follow a rhythm the church summarizes as PPEGG: They Pray together, Play together, Eat together, Grow together in the Word and other areas of life, and then they Go together in outreach.

“MCs are the center of how we do church, how we grow and how we multiply,” Mukisa says. 

A Shift in Evangelism

From its founding, Worship Harvest Church was always evangelistic, but in recent years growth became explosive. 

At every sermon, people are invited to receive Christ, regardless of the numbers present. Moses also says that changing his prayer life changed the ministry. God asked him to spend more time in prayer. Miracles happen every week, but he says, “The biggest miracle of all is the salvations.”

“In 2019, we saw 520 people give their lives to Christ,” Mukisa says. “For 2022, it was 41,328. That’s more than 500 a week during 2022.” In 2022 the church also celebrated its 70th location across Uganda and four other countries.

What made the difference in accelerating the growth? MCs played a key role, specifically, the role of prayer-driven evangelism expanding from Sunday mornings to the MCs as well.

“Most of our salvations today are MCs leading people to Christ,” Mukisa explains. “Our strategy is for each MC to lead one person to Christ each week.” 

An entire structure of leadership support exists to help MCs thrive, reproduce and multiply at that level.

“The primary role of our location pastor—what Americans more often call a campus pastor—is not to preach, but to disciple MC leaders,” Mukisa says. This discipleship is extremely practical, dealing with day-to-day life issues—as does much of the preaching on Sundays, applying God’s Word to believers’ concerns and needs. It is common to hear questions between the location pastor and MC leader including “How is your marriage?” “How are you honoring your parents?” “What was your prayer life like yesterday?” “What did you do to play this week?” and even “How are your savings?”

This final question represents part of the church’s mission to catalyze spiritual, social and economic renewal, from local communities and extending globally. 

“One way we teach people to put God first in their finances is to teach them how to earn a living, such as by starting and owning a business,” Mukisa says. Three of the eight books he’s written are designed to help both the congregation and church leaders to understand biblical teaching about financial integrity.

Discipleship for MC leaders occurs on Tuesday evenings, sometimes at church and sometimes in home settings. Then on Wednesday evenings the MCs meet.

When a church has birthed more MCs than one leader can manage, then the campus is divided into zones, and the campus pastor disciples zone leaders who in turn disciple MC leaders.

Leadership in MCs develops organically. MC leaders typically emerge from facilitating a huddle (smaller group) within an existing MC. Every MC at some level tries to pray for and plan or engage in evangelism every week. 

Built on Prayer

Mukisa didn’t initially think God was calling him to be a pastor or apostle. He studied architecture at a university, and visited a nearby church that most non-Catholic students attended. Uncle Ben, as the pastor of the church was known, was charismatic and evangelical. 

“I started a worship group there, and we used to go around doing evangelism and preaching,” Mukisa says. They did that from 2000 to 2005. “In 2005, I could sense God was speaking to me to morph into a church plant.”

In 2006, Mukisa and a team planted the new church in the balcony of a restaurant. Today the church has a 2,500-seat broadcast location in the Naalya township of Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

Even with all this fruitfulness, Mukisa has learned from several mentors. It was Mike Breen, leader of Three Dimensional Movement, who helped him understand the centrality of MCs. More recently, it was Ghana’s Dag Heward-Mills, founder and presiding bishop of the United Denominations originating from the Lighthouse Group of Churches (profiled in the May/June 2022 issue of Outreach), who taught him the passion for prayer and evangelism. 

“If our MCs are not praying for lost people to come to Christ, then they will not be fruitful,” he says. “Our missional communities must regularly go on mission, entering some frontier within their community.”

Mukisa summarizes what God is doing with four P’s: 

  1. Praying: fervent intercession for souls
  2. Preaching: evangelism
  3. Pastoring: emphasizing relational discipleship
  4. Planting churches: building each on one or more MCs in an area

“The number of new believers in some places grew so fast that we had to plant new churches there,” he says.

The strategy of Worship Harvest Church is to plant 3,000 life-giving churches (campus locations) by 2042. They want every location to plant another location every two to three years, which will lead to equipping and deploying 100,000 disciple-making MCs. 

Kampala, Uganda
Founding pastor and apostle: Moses Mukisa
Founded: 2006
Locations: 70 (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, United Kingdom, Germany)
Attendance in Kampala: 1,500 
Attendance across all locations:12,000

Warren Bird is an Outreach contributing editor and senior vice president of research at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

Warren Bird
Warren Bird

Warren Bird, an Outreach magazine contributing editor, is the vice president of research at ECFA, former research director for Leadership Network and author of more than 30 books for church leaders.