Why We Need Less Human Effort and More Jesus

As the Exponential team focused on and developed our 2019 theme, “Made for More: Mobilizing God’s People, God’s Way,” we enlisted a team of leaders to help us identify six paradigm shifts and specific moves based on Ephesians 1–6. We believe these six shifts have the potential to start a multiplication movement today, as we revolutionize how we mobilize people and multiply disciples who multiply disciples and plant churches that plant churches. Over the next couple of months, we’ll walk through Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, zeroing in on each of these shifts.

This week, longtime Exponential friend, Pastor and author Rob Wegner unpacks the first critical shift: From More Effort to More Jesus, focusing on Ephesians 1.

Jesus is more!

It is the catalytic message that Paul begins his letter to the church in Ephesus with—from the first half of chapter 1 (vv. 1–22) to the end. In fact, Paul begins with a symphony of praise for Christ:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” —Ephesians 1:4

The second half of the chapter (vv. 15–22) is a strategic prayer for the church. The church is called for more, which starts with Jesus because Jesus is always more. Look at what Paul says about Jesus in verse 22:

“God placed all things under Jesus’ feet.”

As church leaders our first concern should be that we become obsessed with Jesus ever growing larger in our minds and in our hearts. And that we see that shift happening in the lives of our churches.

I like how Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch talk about this obsession. They say we need to constantly “re-Jesus” our churches.

As a church leader, you know that it’s fairly easy to become so engulfed in the day-to-day responsibilities of your church that we lose that obsession. It becomes very common for us to get what I call a “little Jesus syndrome.” You can see the signposts for when it’s happening in our churches:

• When we offer worship without awe
• When we offer prayers without faith
• When we offer service without joy
• When we offer suffering without perseverance

If we believe that, then we also believe his church is made for more.

Paul’s first concern is our obsession with the mystery of “Jesus is more.” And that’s also the first move we’ve identified. As leaders, our core commitment is to lead our church, continually illuminating this mystery and wonder. Only Jesus can fill everything in every way. Not our efforts, our strategies, our plans.

In verses 22–23, Paul says that God appointed Jesus to be head over everything for the church—the body:

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Paul tells us that the church is the body and the fullness of him, and that Jesus has chosen and called his church to express his fullness in every corner of culture and sphere of society. Paul reminds us of what the church is and isn’t: a body, not a building; an identity, not an activity. The church is the people of God saved by the power of God for the purposes of God. It is all the people of God on everyday mission to fill everything in every way with the fullness of Jesus.

Paul’s Christology shapes his ecclesiology. Throughout this chapter and the whole book of Ephesians, Paul shares this vision of a Jesus-empowered and Jesus-shaped church that looks like Jesus, walks like Jesus and talks like him. This church fills every nook and cranny of society with the fullness of Jesus.

As his body, we have a unique opportunity. We are the primary means to manifest his presence. Have you ever thought of and really embraced the truth that the church is the primary way Jesus makes the works of the kingdom tangible? It is the primary way the gospel gets proclaimed. And it’s through his church that we create these loving communities on mission who bring the fullness of Jesus to the world.

How big is that vision? That’s the more we’re called to. And yet, most of us as church leaders know there’s this huge gap. Down deep, we know the church that Jesus died and rose for is designed and made for so much more!

Maybe it’s time to look at how we’re mobilizing people and go back to Scripture to look at how God has called us, as leaders of his church, to activate the members of the body of Christ for his work.

Jesus is our foundation for mobilizing people. If we believe and embrace that, then the questions become: How are you equipping every disciple to grow in the lordship of Jesus and in their ability to share the gospel where they live, work, study and play? How are we illuminating the mystery and wonder of “Jesus as More”?

Watch the corresponding Shift 1 video by Rob Wegner here.

Exponential has created a Made for More FREE resource kit that will help your team take a deeper dive into these six shifts and equip you to apply these critical shifts to your local context. Our hope is that you’ll download it, watch the videos and begin this study with your team in preparation for Exponential 2019, March 4–7 in Orlando, where you’ll join 5,000 other multiplication leaders as we walk through Ephesians and discover God’s design for his church. Next time, we’ll unpack Shift 2: From More Volunteers to More Masterpieces.

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