Gathering to Part and Parting to Gather: Part 2

The Plan for Change

Knowing that change for the sake of advancing the gospel and living on mission can be downright hard and painful, I believe there are some ways we can help our people prepare and process the pain points of multiplication and growth.  

1. Cast vision for multiplication from day one.

From the very first time your church or missional community gathers, be intentional to talk about the vision for growth and multiplying for the sake of new groups or new churches. The vision for multiplication is much more than a one-time announcement; it should be part of your church’s DNA. A steady diet of vision goes a long way in getting the desired response.

2. Pray that God would drive the vision in the hearts of the people.

The idea of multiplication is not only an odd idea to the average churchgoer, it is fundamentally against our self-serving human nature. We can beat the drum of gathering with the goal of parting ways until we’re blue in the face, but until the Holy Spirit takes the vision and converts it to a conviction, it‘s all for naught. Our charisma and personal commitment to the vision can do nothing to turn the hearts of people; only God can do that. Pray that God would give the grace of open minds and hearts to love those around us with open hands, ready and willing to release whomever, whenever, wherever for the glory of God and the good of the world.

 

3. Create a sending culture in your church where commissioning people to Gospel ministry becomes the norm.

@@We are all “sent” ones, and our people are always on the move.@@

Wherever we go, we are called to make disciples (Matthew 20:28). We are all “sent” ones, and our people are always on the move. Think about where your people are “going” and commission them there for Gospel ministry. When students are starting a new semester, a new baby is born into a family, families move to a new city or neighborhood, celebrate it and send them with Gospel intentionality. The fields are white for harvest (John 4:35).

4.When it’s time to part, acknowledge the loss.

We are part of one body, a family purchased by the same blood and sealed with the same Spirit. When cherished members of our body are sent out on mission, we should expect pain. We can prepare our people best by preaching the Gospel with its glorious, comforting truths. Our Savior himself experienced the pain of relational loss (Matthew 26:56, 1 Peter 2:24, Hab. 1:13) and He can relate with every pain and loss that we feel. This parting pain should not be ignored or explained away, but rather it should be acknowledged that we may weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

Parting Encouragement

We come together on the Lord’s Day and in missional communities praying for the Lord’s blessing that He would add to our number so that we might send out others among us to advance the gospel in different neighborhoods, cities, states and countries. We gather to part. 

But we not only do we gather to part, we part to gather. One day when Christ returns, there will be a glorious reunion of all the saints. No matter the miles or seas or cities that might separate us, we will gather again (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). This is how we can with rejoice with tear-filled eyes when we or ones we love are sent out for gospel ministry.We gather to part, but we part to gather.

This post was written by Jeremy Hatfield, Executive Pastor of Pleasant Valley Community Church in Owensboro, KY. You can follow him @jpaulhatfield.