Exponential 2019 is less than two months away. We’re looking forward to seeing you and sharing this year’s theme: “Made for More: Mobilizing God’s People, God’s Way.” This is the first time an Exponential theme has focused on a book of the Bible—each of the six chapters in Ephesians for each critical paradigm shift. As we revolutionize how we mobilize people and multiply disciples who multiply disciples and plant churches that plant churches, we believe these six shifts have the potential to start a disciple-making multiplication movement today.
This week, we look at Ephesians chapter 6 to help us unpack the sixth and final shift: From More Strategy to More Surrender.
For our last shift, we look at one of the most well-known passages in Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus. Over the last few weeks, we’ve explored what it means to be, do and go more. Shift 6 brings all of the last five shifts together to show us what it takes to be and make disciples who carry the fullness of Jesus into our lost and hurting world—because the church is made to win more. Check out Paul’s exhortation to the body of Christ to prepare for battle:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the Devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” —Ephesians 6:10–12
As Scripture shows us and as you’ve probably already discovered by now, the Enemy will do everything possible to thwart God’s plan for his church. But in Christ, we are called to win this battle. To do that, we must consecrate ourselves for Jesus and his mission. Individually, the Enemy will attempt to hinder the fullness in us, restricting the expression of this fullness carried to others. When Paul speaks of “principalities and powers,” this is another way of saying systems of oppression influenced by the demonic. Often, these systems are operating inside the church.
MORE STRATEGY VS. MORE SURRENDER
Let’s look at what “More strategy” means vs. “More surrender” through the lens of how you and your church make disciples.
More strategy means:
• We plug people into our discipleship strategy as quickly as we can. Those who need extra grace can seek out counseling.
• We plan and then pray for God to grant success to the plan. We understand that any strategy is going to be difficult to enact, so we work hard to work the plan.
More surrender means:
• We plug people into their identity in Christ, a sense of rest in the gospel, healing from woundedness and freedom from captivity. This is essential to the beginning stages of discipleship for all people.
• We pray and seek to discern what the Spirit is saying to our community. All planning stems from listening to the Spirit and is sustained through prayer.
• We understand we are in a spiritual battle with principalities and powers that we will not beat through merely human efforts producing merely human results. We actively use the armor of God as a community to win this spiritual battle.
PREPARATION FOR THE BATTLE
So how do we practically prepare for the battle? There are two approaches churches take. Unfortunately, the majority are operating from a “We can build it. You can help” paradigm. To understand the difference and assess where you are, ask yourself (and your team) these yes/no questions:
• Does most of our church see church as a building, an event or a program?
• Do we believe the church needs professionals our people can depend on to minister to them?
• Would we say that we believe people have temptations, and it’s our responsibility to equip them to say, “No!”
• Do we say often that we need to pray regularly against the Enemy’s attacks?
• Do we operate under the belief that each of us must fight the battle against the enemy?
Now look at the “You can build it, we can help” approach for preparing for battle. Notice the differences between the two (pay special attention to the italics):
• We regularly declare and train our people to understand that the church is not a building; it’s a body. The church is not driven by events but by an everyday mission in all of life. The church is not a program but the people of God. We understand that accepting the “normal definition” of church is actually giving ground to the Enemy.
• As elders and leaders in the church, we recognize our success is measured by how successfully we equip all the people of God to minister and be on mission.
• We understand the real battle in every temptation is not at the activity level but at the identity level.
• We understand the gates of Hell will not prevail against us. We are on the offense in strategic prayer and the prophetic use of the Word of God in teaching and equipping.
• We understand that we can only win this battle together as a body!
When we begin to surrender our strategies and our belief that we’re building the church while others help by filling the spots we’ve predetermined, we begin to wage the war Christ has called us to fight. At that point, people begin to understand that they are the church—and when that sense of identity becomes clear, we start to take ground from the enemy. We begin to win more.
Exponential has created a Made for More FREE resource kit to help your team take a deeper dive into these six shifts and equip you to apply them in 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 our sixth and final shift: From More Strategy to More Surrender.