Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Notes - Gaining By Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send - JD Greear

Fantastic read and I've always been impressed about Summit Church and their incredibly audacious plan around church planting, global missions and church multi site campuses. I was sold by the subtitle of this book and loved reading how Summit believes it to be true.
At our church, we simplify these two questions [what skill, where and how can I do it] into a single statement: Whatever you are good at, do it well for the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.

What happens during the week establishes the difference between a disciple and an attender. And in our post-Christian age, the weekend is becoming less effective for reaching truly unreached people. Few and few lost people are moseying their way into our weekend services. Thus, equipping disciples to reproduce outside the church, during the week, is becoming vastly more important than having a great weekend show. As our society becomes more and more post-Christian, training members to 'go' will be far more effective than inviting the community to 'come.'

I devour books written by pastors and church leaders who understand how unbelievers think, even when I disagree with some of their applications. "Eat the fish and spit out the bones," I often tell our staff.

Luke goes out his way to show that the biggest advances of the gospel happen through ordinary people. Of all the miracles in Acts, 39 of 40 were done outside of the church. We need to expect that kind of ratio today, too. In our post-Christian age, fewer and fewer people casually “make their way” into churches. The de-churched are becoming the unchurched, who view Christianity the way you or I might view Islam. I wouldn’t meander my way into a mosque, even if their music was awesome or if their Imam was an engaging speaker doing a helpful series on “relationships.” We can’t expect cutting edge music and entertaining speakers to continue doing the trick. People in our day will increasingly have to be reached outside the walls of the church, and that means individual believers living filled with the Spirit is more important than ever.

Furthermore, it seems to me that a lot of missional ministry advocates have overstated the case against attractional ministry. I agree with them that our culture has changed and that people don't flock to city-wide revival services the way they did in the 1950s. But dare we underestimate the drawing, converting power of a Spirit-filled preacher of the gospel? When a preacher of God's Word 'lifts-up' the beauties of Christ, should we really be surprised when the community throngs to hear him?

The bottom line? Faithful ministries pursue both width and depth, because neither is really possible without the other. Depth in the gospel leads to width in the mission.

We must challenge our people to be leaders. Today we end every service with the benediction, "Summit Church, you are sent."

We must empower our people to be leaders.
...if the majority of what Jesus wants to do he wants to do in the community, it shouldn't surprise us that he puts his best vision into the hearts of the people who live and work there for the majority of their hours each week.
Thus, one of our primary responsibilities as church leaders is to help God's people uncover these ideas and to encourage them….
Ministries we own
Ministries we bless
Ministries we catalyze
We believe the great potential for ministry multiplication lies in this last category and each staff member is responsible to facilitate this where they can. We have as a goal the catalyzation of at least one hundred community-blessing ministries out of our church. We might be instrumental in getting them started, but we want them quickly to become 501C-3s with budgets and leadership boards of their own.

Church plants are like teenagers - they only want your money and affirmation and then for you to stay out of their way.

Making more and better disciples ought to be the goal of - and justification for the existence of - every ministry.

Every dollar you spend getting your members engaged in overseas missions will return to you fourfold. When believers see with their own eyes what God is doing around the world, their hearts open, and so do their pocketbooks.

David Garrison, who served for many years as church planting catalyzer for the Asian world, talks about the 'heresy of sequentialism.' Sequentialism is separating into components what really ought to be embraced all at once…. Global missions is part of God's essential recipe for discipleship, not something you get only in Christianity 401. It ought to be present in the first bite.

No blessing that God gives his people is separated from the responsibility to become a blessing to the nations. For example, at the Summit church, we build a global missions thrust into the first stages of our family ministries. Psalm 127 teaches us that our kids are given to us 'like arrows in the hands of a warrior' and (to use the words of Jim Elliot), what are arrows for but to be pulled back on the bowstring of faith to be launched into God's global battle? We quit doing 'baby dedications' and now hold 'parent commissionings', in which parents covenant with the church to raise up their children for the mission of God and to release them freely into that mission whenever and wherever God calls them. I make the parents promise 'If God calls my child one day to a difficult mission field, I promise not to stand in the way, but to bless and encourage my child to follow God." We don't need to dedicate a baby - the baby already belongs to God. It is the parents who need to dedicate themselves to raise up a child for the mission of God.

We challenge our high school students to serve for one month for one summer on one of our global mission teams, and we encourage all students to give one entire summer of their college career to serve in one of our mission projects around the world.

We encourage each small group to adopt both a city service-evangelism project and an international missionary.

I am not against a designated 'missions pastor.' We have a few of them, actually. But their jobs are primarily to catalyze the other pastors to lead them in global mission through their ministries. Our missions pastors should not do missions for the church; they should catalyze missions in the church. Big difference. They should not be leading in missions as much as creating opportunities for others to lead in missions.

Multicultural diversity is in the very DNA of the gospel, and a Spirit filled church will naturally drift toward this diversification. We see this reflected in how the gospel has spread down through history: Christianity has roughly 20 percent of its followers in Africa, 20 percent in Asia, 20 percent in Europe, 20 percent in NA and 20 percent in SA. Every other major religion has at least 80 percent of its followers concentrated on one continent. Christianity, statistically speaking, has no dominant culture. It is the most diverse movement in history.

Our church has asked God to allow us to plant 1,000 churches and bless 1,000 cities by 2050. We want to send out 5000 people as part of those church planting teams. We have started a pastor training school that will train pastors and church leaders. We have asked God to let us baptize 50,000 people in the Raleigh-Durham area. We have asked him to let us be part of major awakenings in Muslim and European nations. Each year we try to give away more money and send out more leaders than we feel we can afford. Only when our giving scares us do we know we are getting close to target.

Every time we send people out from our church, they leave gaps. It’s painful to think about sometimes. More than once, I have had to force myself to literally open my hands to God. Opened in surrender. Opened as a sign that I must take my hands off of one of the most precious earthly things to me—my church. Open as an offering of praise to Jesus’ worthiness and faith in his promise. Open in the belief that God builds his kingdom not as we hold on, but as we let go.

The slightest glimpse of what 'can be' creates more willingness to change than any sermons we can preach. If you want a ministry filled with people coming up with mission ideas faster than you can facilitate them, give people a glimpse of what can be and help them feel what God wants it to be.

Gospel-saturated people become visionaries. The gospel shows us the compassion of God for the world and his willingness to change it. The gospel is the single greatest catalyst for innovation in mission.

Those that know him well say that Jack Welch’s (the legendary CEO of G.E.) greatest gifting was his ability to spot and raise up leaders. An impressive number of CEOs came from G.E. Welch gave away some good leaders, but the leadership culture he created attracted many to replace the ones he “sent.” He knew that multiplication was greater than addition. And that is what we desire as a church, because the greatest ministry power happens not as we add to our numbers, but as we empower and release people into the world It happens when we open our hands to God and say, “We don’t want to be a group of people gathered around a leader, but to be a leadership factory.”

'The deader your gospel the flashier your package' Vance Havner


  1. Hi Tony,
    Could you let me know whether the text in your blog is actually direct quotes from the book, or simply your insights about what you read?
    I would like to reference some of the quotes, but I want to correctly acknowledge the appropriate author.
    Thanks for your help in clarifying this for me.

  2. Hi there Sandi -- thanks for reading my blog! All of this post except the first paragraph are direct quotes from the book. Sorry, I know with the formatting, it's hard to tell. Thanks!