I was thinking today. If I were a local church leader, here’s what I’d do.
First, on a Sunday morning, I’d ask everyone what they would do to minister to their extended families and/or their neighborhoods if they had one extra day a week. I’d give them time to think about it and to write it down.
Then, on that same Sunday morning, I’d ask them to get up and to go sit down in extended family groups or by neighborhood, and I’d give them a good chunk of time to discuss with one another what they wrote down.
Third, on that same Sunday morning, I’d likely read the Great Commission from Matthew and then dismiss the crowd.
The next Sunday morning, I’d read the Great Commission again, along with Acts 2:42. Then, I’d put them back in their groups and ask them to pray together and to make a plan that incorporates one or more of their ideas. I’d lay some ground rules for how to have a conversation like that so everyone participates, and so that someone can lead and maybe someone else administrate so the plan is actually workable. The only big rule would be that the plan would need to incorporate everyone, and that it would have to use families working together as families. But mostly I’d leave them to themselves and I’d pray silently for them while they worked. In the last 15 minutes or so of the meeting, ‘d have groups share their plans aloud with the whole crowd, and I’d give them a little more time to tweak their plans after hearing from one another.
At the end of that second Sunday meeting, I’d tell them that where two or three are gathered in His name, He’s there with them in a way He’s not with them when they are alone. I’d explain that “in his name” means “as his agents”. And ‘d tell them in no uncertain terms that they had just gathered as his agents, and that he had been in the midst of every single group, and that I was 99% certain that their plans were his plans given to them, and that they must obey them. In fact, I’d on the spot cancel the following Sunday’s BigShow, and I’d tell them NOT to come to this building next week. Rather, next Sunday is that extra day of the week – a day we are giving back to them to meet in his name, pray through their plan and execute it. And as they execute it, they should expect Jesus to engage them directly and to disciple them while they seek to disciple their communities as communities.
That following Sunday some people would just stay home. Their loss. But some would have a cookout or a bonfire or a block party for the neighborhood, and they’d bring up Jesus. Some would mow lawns in Jesus’ name. Some would spend the day with the elderly in their neighborhood, or at the group home down the street. Some would prayer walk. Some would pick up trash. But all of them would encounter Jesus – I’m sure of that – and that’s not something I could say if we’d kept the BigShow on for that week.
The following Sunday we’d read about when Jesus sent the 12 out to teach and heal and take the land, and how he debriefed with them afterward. And we’d debrief. And from there, gathered as his agents, we might begin to re-imagine together what a monthly meeting rhythm might look like. And we might come up with something that got passive individuals off of pews and got engaged neighborhood teams and family teams out discipling communities in Jesus’ name. Maybe a big meeting every other week. Maybe less often. Maybe more. But lots of getting at it as local neighborhood families taking direct action on the disciple making target together.
If I were a local church leader, I might do that this month.