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Source leads to force…

I grew up in the mountains of Virginia.  So when I spent time in the Rockies last summer it wasn’t my first mountain rodeo, but I quickly realized that the Rockies and the Blue Ridge are two different animals.  The first thing I noticed was the noise; it sounded like a freight train was rolling down the side of the mountain.  I walked about a hundred yards and discovered the source: a broad stream of water that was tearing down the mountain leveling everything in its path.  Now we have mountain streams in Virginia, they’re piddly and sort of cute.  You use them to slowly fill your water bottle.  But this stream in the Rockies was anything but cute.  So what was the difference?

Well in Virginia the mountain springs are shallow and dry up easily.  But in the Rockies the springs are deep and strong, feed continuously by snow melt, overflowing into surging torrents like the one I encountered.  I realized that the strength of the source determines the force of the stream.

So other than being vaguely interesting how does this have anything to do with church planting?  Well the same principle of source determining force holds true in church planting.  North American Church Planting functions as the source that impacts the vitality of international missions.  Vibrant sending churches produce torrents of international missionaries.  Weak churches cut mission off at the source.  I’m arguing that for some helping plant a church in North America could be the most strategic way they can take the gospel to the nations.  Now if you have the slightest inclination that God is calling you overseas please fan that flame because the goal of this post is to encourage all Christians to understand themselves as international missionaries, just in different ways.

The 1:1 Principle

People who help plant a church in North America have an opportunity to be a strategic part of reaching the nations. They can do so by following the 1:1 Principle. Recently we’ve seen an example of that.

Three years ago Mercy Hill Church didn’t exist.  Lead Pastor Andrew Hopper was happily on staff at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC when God began stirring him to plant a church.  Andrew gathered a crew of people, completed training with Summit Network and planted Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, NC.

As Mercy Hill approaches their two-year anniversary they’ve seen God do some amazing things.  They’ve grown to three weekend services and have hundreds in weekend attendance.  But what may be more amazing is Mercy Hill’s passion for the Great Commission, this summer they sent missionaries to nine different countries.

Not yet two years old Mercy Hill worked with the International Mission Board to adopt the Yanesha people of Peru.  The Yanesha are unreached (less than 2% Christian) and (previously) unengaged by missionaries.  Mercy Hill has already sent three short-term mission teams to Peru and is scheduled for three more this year.

The International Mission Board has identified 3,100 unreached + unengaged people groups around the world.  On average 4,500 churches are planted in North America each year.  What if every church planted in North America engaged one “unengaged” people group around the world?  What if North American Church Plants measured their success as much by sending capacity as they did by seating capacity?  Would would happen if every church plant committed to the 1:1 Principle?  The result would be a surging torrent of international missionaries that would overcome obstacles and change the landscape of global mission: a lot like that mountain stream.

Josh Miller (@joshmiller0604) is a Church Planting Catalyst with Summit Network and a Church Planting Pastor at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC.