Two years ago I moved to southern New Hampshire with my family. Prior to that, we had been involved deeply in a church plant for almost a decade—serving in leadership, developing marketing tools, and loving the people in that community like family.
Losing that family was hard; trying to find a new church home was even harder. For more than two years, I visited approximately 20 churches within a half hour from my new home. These churches ranged from tiny (40 people) to huge (more than 3,000). They were evangelical, mainline, charismatic, denominational and independent. I heard hard rock gospel music, traditional hymns set to organ music and everything in between.
How to calculate your church’s true missional impact
A friend of mine who pastors a church of 120 people in a town of 1,000 recently told me about a strange encounter he had with a megachurch pastor in another area about what constitutes a megachurch. The megachurch pastor led a church of 10,000 in a town of 600,000 and told my friend that if your church was reaching at least 1 percent of the population of your town, then you were leading a megachurch.
His assertion made my friend wonder if this was really true or was it just faulty logic. He asked this pastor how he would classify a church that was reaching 12 percent of the town’s population. The pastor was stunned.
“Who is doing that?” he asked.
“Our church is consistently running 120 people in a small town of 1,000!” my friend responded. To which the megachurch pastor quickly replied, “Yes, but that’s a different model .”
Beyond Raw Numbers
In some ways, the megachurch pastor was right. Few people would argue that pastoring 120 people is different from pastoring 12,000 people. And we’d all say that leading a church in a fast-growing suburb is significantly different from leading one in a rural community or complex downtown urban setting. So in some ways comparing the two ministry contexts is apples and oranges. They are different.
But in other ways the megachurch pastor was dead wrong. From the perspective of the people reached and actual community impact, reaching 12 percent of a small town offers a much greater result then reaching 1 percent of a larger city, regardless of the raw numbers’ magnitude.
This “percentage of impact” number might be a strategic and effective tool to help us equalize our understanding of the missional impact of a church and get away from what I think is a shortsighted idea that the only factor that really matters is how many people gather in one place at one time.
The “percentage of impact” number is simply the number of people attending the church compared to the number of people in the local community. When you consider this formula, a church of 120 is a significant force in a small community of 1,000. I won’t argue with the idea that a church of 12,000 is certainly impressive. But it’s much less of a force in a community of 600,000. To be equal in percentage of impact to the church of 120 in a town of 1,000, the megachurch would need to be a church of 72,000 attendees.
Right or wrong, the perception in the American church world is that, when everything is said and done, the more people you have listening to you each Sunday/weekend, the greater leader you are. This idea that quantity is always better is an American idea, not a kingdom idea. America is a great nation, but American values don’t always synch up well with kingdom values.
Kingdom is about impact, and in the kingdom, your percentage of impact number means more than how many you have in the room at the weekly worship gathering.
Other kingdom measurements that apply regardless of the size of the gathering are metrics such as:
These metrics actually tell you something about how well your church is tracking with the mission of Jesus to seek and save the lost.
When you set out to plant a new church or you’re leading an existing one, make sure you measure the things that matter. If you focus on actions and activities that increase your missional impact, you won’t have to worry about how many people show up to hear you speak. The crowd will increase as you stay focused on the mission of Jesus.
Steve Pike serves as national director for the Church Multiplication Network, which collaborates with church multipliers to effectively equip, strategically fund and innovatively network new faith communities in America. Follow him on Twitter @StevenPike.
Taking the first step in leading others to share their faith
Willing men inspire fear.
The one thing Satan fears more than any other is a man of God who’s willing to say two little words each day: “Use me.” As leaders, we especially grab the enemy’s attention when God burdens us to begin inviting others to explore a relationship with Christ. Satan will stop at nothing to keep us from fusing these two little words in our prayers; he knows he needs to keep them separate in leaders’ lives. Using something else is much better, he’ll say to us—people, substances, credit cards, false motivations, feelings. Using these things now is optimal.
If the enemy can make us a dedicated user, distracting our lives and minds with other things, he knows we won’t be available for God to use us. So go on, he says, use, abuse and blow a fuse! Satan would love to decommission you, dishonorably discharge you and destroy your availability to lead and be used by God.
The “me” part of “use me” is potentially just as good a derailment (if not better). It diverts our attention away from others and their need to know Christ by putting the focus on No. 1.
“What about me?”
“They’re all following me!”
“What’s in it for me?”
If Satan can’t turn us into users, he’ll exploit our self-centered nature, enticing us into self-absorption. When it comes to sharing your faith and leading others to share their faith, self-centeredness over others-centeredness helps him breathe a little easier. Focusing on you and your needs obscures your view. You begin to overlook or not see the people in your life who need Christ. C’mon, Satan says to us, why even risk it? What were you thinking, anyway? How does talking to them help you? Forget about it.
In the natural realm, when we as leaders do put these two words together and speak them sincerely to God, it may seem mundane. But in the spiritual world, huge repercussions take place:
Willingness on the part of God’s leaders to share the gospel is weapons-grade plutonium in spiritual warfare—the final ingredient that makes a nuclear impact possible. Telling someone else about the Lord requires humility and faith, the two most powerful agents of spiritual conductivity. God’s power flows most deeply through you when you leave the shores of safe, spiritual spin for the unpredictable rapids of evangelism.
Your spiritual life comes full circle when you’re willing to give away the same news you received and accepted yourself—and lead others to follow your example. You’ve risked combining responsibility with a willing availability to speak about Him. And once God’s man experiences His power in this way, no other experience can compare.
Kenny Luck is a men’s expert: speaker, author, founder and president of Every Man Ministries and the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., where 7,000 men participate in weekly small group gatherings. He has authored and coauthored 20 books, including his most recent title, Sleeping Giant: No Movement of God Without Men of God (B&H). For more information, go to everymanministries.com. Follow Luck on Twitter @Kenny_Luck and on Facebook at facebook.com/KennyLuck.
What every church can do about human sex trafficking—now
Can I be blunt and say that I’m sick and tired of churches and ministries that are committed to “raising awareness” about sex trafficking?
We’re living in a time in which the world has more modern-day slaves than ever before. The United Nations crime-fighting office estimates that at any given time, 2.4 million people are being trafficked—and of those, half are children. Nearly 80 percent of those 2.4 million are being exploited as sexual slaves.
Although it’s difficult to cite an exact figure, we know that no country is providing more girls per capita than Moldova, where I’ve worked for more than 20 years. Right now, 450,000 women and girls have simply and mysteriously vanished from the tiny country—more than 12 percent of the nation’s total population!
I had been working with children in state-run institutions in Romania and Moldova for decades before I discovered this horror. Children—the same kids I had brought Christmas boxes to since they were 8 years old, put roofs over their heads and had made more than 100 trips to see—were suddenly gone, victims of the Eastern Europe sex trafficking industry. While serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Michael D. Kirby told me that within 24 hours of getting into a car, girls end up in places such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Italy. They are then beaten, raped and forced to comply with the demands of their new masters. Many will be forced to provide sexual services as many as 30 times a day.
The very day I learned the truth—beginning with a physically disabled girl named Stella—I had to do more than talk and raise awareness. I had to do something—anything. Let me suggest a few ways you and your church can get involved in the fight against injustice and the $32 billion-a-year global sex trafficking industry:
Educate yourself and your congregation—but don’t stop there. I believe education is the most powerful, world-changing weapon we have. Books such as Not for Sale, Sex Trafficking and God in a Brothel, as well as films like Taken, Trade and Call + Response offer substantiated facts and stories that put a face on the numbers.
Stop sugarcoating the issue. Churches need to hear from those on the front lines. Invite a restored victim or first-response leader like Christine Caine (see p. 46) to come to your church and share. Every summer, we bring more than 15 orphans to the United States who often share their stories with churches.
Take a stand where you can make a difference. We built a house for orphans aging out of the Moldovan orphanage system. As soon as we raised the money, we built a second one. Soon, two more homes will be filled. I confronted the problem head-on in one country because the Lord told me to, and because the country was small enough that I knew we could be a game-changer.
Advocate for stronger laws and tougher enforcement. Write your local, state and federal government officials and petition for stronger laws and better enforcement of the current laws. Find out what your elected representatives are doing to end human slavery and how you can help. You may also want to contact your local law enforcement branch and find out what the protocol is for handling victims of sex trafficking. Bring the issue to their attention.
Send a missions team. At Stella’s Voice, we are always in need of short- and long-term volunteers. Everyone has something to offer, whether it’s assisting with light construction, teaching English, helping with our summer camps or caring for the orphans. Wherever you serve in whatever capacity, you’ll be forever changed.
Organize a fundraising event.Set aside a Friday night or Saturday afternoon and hold an art show or auction, host a community dinner or organize a clothing drive.
Devote a Sunday. Many of my best friends are pastors. I know the struggles you face to meet budget, reach out to the community and do all that God has called you to do. But I challenge you: Devote one Sunday to this injustice—just one week. Make a difference in the lives of girls who are literally standing on the edge of hell. They are more than statistics on a page; they’re human beings who are treated worse than cattle. They’re someone’s daughter, sister or friend.
This isn’t just my fight. We are all biblically mandated to fight injustice, help free the captives and to give voice to the oppressed. This is your fight, too!
Philip Cameron is founder and president of Stella’s Voice. The ministry’s website offers free videos for use at a fundraising event and opportunities to set up a fundraising page. To learn more, go to stellasvoice.org.
Patterns and keys to seeing more of the miraculous
Being in healing ministry, I have witnessed the miraculous regularly and seen thousands touched by God each year.
I remember two times when the Lord spoke something to me out of His Word, and it gave me an insight that brought an increase for healing. The first instance happened about two years ago, and the second about a year ago.
The first came out of 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul said, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak” (NIV).
I’d seen this Scripture many times, but when God quickened it to me, all of a sudden it took on life. All of a sudden I made this connection: Faith needs to be spoken. You can say you believe something, but if you don’t have enough faith to declare it, to speak it, there’s something that’s not released.
The Holy Spirit’s clues will lead you to the lost and needy
The clues on our treasure map led us to a home improvement store, where we began looking for our treasure—someone with “red hair,” “headache,” “Ralph,” and “back problem” were among our clues.
Immediately, I noticed a woman with red hair. As I approached her and her husband, I asked, “Hey, do you by any chance have a headache?” She responded, “As a matter of fact I do!”
She was visibly shocked that I had this inside information. After explaining that God had clearly highlighted her on my treasure map, she agreed to let us pray for her even though she adamantly stated that she was not a Christian.
After a short prayer, her headache vanished and she started to cry, overwhelmed that God would care enough about her to send us to help her. She then asked Jesus into her life right there in the middle of the aisle, while her husband stood at a distance in obvious disgust.