Is Your Church Bringing Kingdom Culture to Your Community?
I believe that God has called the Church to bring Kingdom culture to its communities; to be a Church in and for the community.
When I was 22, we started New Life Community Church with a vision to transform some broken neighborhoods. I found myself completely overwhelmed with pastoring a small church in a tough neighborhood. It looked bleak. My salary was $8,000 a year with no insurance. The church had 18 people and no worship band. I was living in my one-room office with a mattress on the floor and mouse traps all around.
I thought, "Wow, we're supposed to be this dynamic ‘change the world’ church and we're just this small, feeble group...the toothless, the broken, the homeless and those with prison sentences."
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One day, as I was whining in discouragement during a prayer walk, it was as though the Spirit of God stopped me right in my tracks at 42nd and Rockwell in Chicago and rebuked me. God impressed the following on my heart, "I'm asking you to be faithful with what I've given you. What I give you, be faithful with. Don't waste it. Maximize it. Be faithful with what I give you, and when the glory comes, don't touch it. Don't touch it. It belongs to me."
What do you have in your house?
I have a tendency to complain about what I don't have, and I’m not alone. In 2 Kings 4, we read about a woman in crisis who goes to the prophet. Her husband died, and she's in a critical, desperate situation. They're going to take her kids away, and Elijah asks her, "What do you have in your house?”
She has been so focused on having nothing. With a scarcity mentality, she immediately responds, "Your servant has nothing at all."
As church leaders, we make the same kind of “Your servant has nothing at all” statements, only ours sound more like:
- We don’t have enough leaders to fill the spots we have.
- We don’t have enough budget to fund our current projects.
- We don’t have enough energy to sustain what we're doing.
These are all responses based on scarcity and lack. And yet, God doesn’t ask, "What don't you have?" He starts with, “What do you have in your house?”
Shift your perspective
I compare launching a new location or planting a church to having a baby. I don't know any couple who says, "You know what? We have so much room in this house. We have so much extra energy, we just don't know what to do with it. Man, we are just overflowing with money.”
Instead, most couples think, "We don't have enough energy for a baby. We don't have enough time. How would we be able to manage a baby in our schedule?" But once you have a baby, you make room for it. You watch it grow, and it becomes one of the greatest joys of your life.
Instead of focusing on all the things you may not have that are making you wonder if now is the right time to give birth to a new church, start by asking: What do we have in our house?
Identify what you have and celebrate it before God, like Jesus did with the loaves and the fishes. God is going to start with what you already have: the leaders, talents, vision and passion. What you have is exactly what God wants to use for his honor and glory. If God can plant a multiplication movement out of a poor, broken, gang-infested neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago, he can do it anywhere in the world with people who are willing to be open.
I don't believe you have to have it all figured out. There is a faith element. Not a sloppiness element; you need to prepare well. However, in any venture that's a God venture, you are jumping into the deep end and reaching out to say, "God, if you're not in this, this is going to flop. Father, we're going in with all of what we can muster, and we ask you to move in a powerful way."
Prepare, but take risks
My challenge to you is get training, learn, research, prepare. But my greater challenge to you is this: don't wait. The harvest is plentiful. We don't know how much time we have. This is about making disciples.
What I've started to discover and learn is that if we don't put ourselves in a place of risk, then the power of God never shows up. The power of God will never show up in places of security. The power of God shows up when we're taking a risk and enables us to do what we would never be able to do on our own.
I believe there are a lot of ways of multiplying the kingdom of God, but I urge you to follow the commission and challenge of Jesus to make disciples and to use the method he's given us. It's to create disciple-making centers that lead people to the message of Jesus Christ.
We have to believe it, we have to embody it, and we have to be willing to take steps of faith for the sake and name of Jesus Christ because that's what planting and launching new congregations is all about.
About Mark Jobe
Mark is the lead and founding pastor of New Life Community Church in the city of Chicago. He and his wife Dee have seen New Life grow from a handful of people to several thousand meeting at more than 25 locations with more than 40 worship services each weekend. Mark is also the founder of New Life Centers, an organization focused on helping youth in underserved areas of Chicago. He holds a Master’s degree from Moody Theological Seminary and a Doctorate degree from Bakke Graduate University. Mark is the author of UNSTUCK: Out of Your Cave into Your Call and can be heard on his daily radio program StraightTalk.