He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Throughout the gospels, Jesus presents principles for ministry through parables. These principles are then modeled by Jesus and applied in his assignments for the disciples. This particular parable includes a number of important principles for discipleship and has been an influential part of shaping the Everywhere to Everywhere training weekend event. Nathan and Kari Shank, long term workers and movement catalysts in India, have unpacked the parable of the growing seed in their training manual Four Fields of Kingdom Growth.
[Download the manual for free HERE]
The Five Parts of the Four Fields
In Four Fields of Kingdom Growth, Shank points out that in the parable of the growing seed there are four contexts or fields. There is also a fifth element that is important in every movement of God. He offers a key question for each that focus both our kingdom work strategy and our training of new believers.
Field #4 - The Harvested Field - Eventually a season of harvest comes and the farmer is there to cut and bundle the harvest.
Key Question: How do I form a new believers into groups or churches?
Leader Multiplication - Generational Multiplication Potential - Out of the harvest comes both fruit for this year and seed for the coming growing season.
Key Question: How do I develop and multiply movement leaders?
Jesus says that this is what the kingdom of God is like. It seems then that the parable of the growing seed could be a helpful framework around which to build a life of discipleship and ministry. It is the framework that has shaped much of the training we do at Everywhere to Everywhere events across the Midwest. And within it are principles that have been observed in every movement of kingdom expansion throughout history.
Every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to identify and understand how to enter the fields of lostness in their context, whether that be a Muslim village in Central Asia or their suburban neighborhood in Wichita or Fresno.
Every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to proclaim the good news of the gospel with anyone, anywhere and anytime.
Every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to disciple new believers into a mature, healthy and growing relationship with Jesus and into the lifestyle of disciple making.
And every disciple of Jesus should be trained and able to gather believers together as the body of Christ.
The final element, leadership multiplication, is an important part of healthy discipleship and kingdom growth. The Apostle Paul always had two to three disciples with him who he was training up and releasing into ministry.
Without the multiplication of leadership, the making of disciples will always come to a bottleneck. But as young disciples take what they have learned and pass it on to other disciples who will pass it on to others (2 Timothy 2:2), the kingdom will expand, our churches will grow and great commission discipleship will be a reality.
This is exactly what we see in this parable, in the workings of Jesus and in the unfolding story of the the growth of the early church in the book of Acts. This is what we see in the the great movements of kingdom expansion throughout history. And this is what we see happening in the kingdom movements spreading across countries all around the world today.
The Kingdom parables serve as a framework for understanding Jesus’ kingdom agenda across the gospel accounts. Jesus’ kingdom agenda serves as a working job description for both his disciples and our lives and ministries.”
The four fields framework also creates a helpful rubric against which we can assess our own discipleship journey. It is a bit of a diagnostic tool which can help us see the places where we need more discipleship and training so that we can become the kind of kingdom agents that Jesus has called us to be.
Just as he was sent, he is sending us into a lost and broken world to be his ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) and witnesses (Acts 1:8).
Work through the following questions to help you understand where you might need additional training in order to step into your role as an ambassador and witness.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions or just felt unsure of whether you understand what or how to step into these kingdom assignments, find your pastor or a trusted mentor and ask them to help you get equipped.
Reach out to your nearest Multiply regional mobilizer and ask them to come and do some training with your congregation.
Consider coming to an Everywhere to Everywhere three day missional training event or hosting one in your region.
And check out the great training opportunities at the No Place Left website.
However you respond, do something!
Amidst this need to learn to do the work of the kingdom, we must remember that applying the principles of this parable to the ministry of making disciples and planting churches demands dependency on the Holy Spirit.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit - the unknown doer in the parable - that causes the seed to sprout and to grow.
As Christ’s disciples, there is a path laid out in the parable for how we can join in the work of the Spirit, but it is the Spirit that brings the growth. This was the understanding of Paul, who in 1 Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted, Apollos watered but it was God who made it grow.”
There are things that Paul and Apollos need to do and to train others to do, but spiritual fruit is always because of the power of God.
My hope is that this parable will help you discover some of the places where you need more training or encouragement to become those who go and make disciples.
In John 4, Jesus and his disciples were walking toward Galilee and were passing through Samaria. Tired from the journey, Jesus sat down by a well while his disciples scooted off to a nearby town to pick up some food. A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water and Jesus spoke to her saying, “Will you give me a drink?”
There is all kinds of background and context to this exchange but in the course of the conversation between Jesus and this woman, she comes to realize that Jesus is someone very special, the long awaited Messiah.
Once she realizes this, she leaves her water jug where it is, hurries back to her town and says to the people there, “Come, see a man who told me everything I did. Could he be the Messiah?”
And the people respond. They come out to the well to meet Jesus for themselves where they eventually are lead to say, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Making disciples begins with telling others about the good news of Jesus; the gospel. As we train people to make disciples, we find it helpful to answer a few simple questions to help people get started.
This story helps us answer the question of who. Who should we share with?
Who did the Samaritan woman share with? She went back to her town and shared with the people who knew her and by whom she was known. There is a relationship already established. And this is the place where we are all called to start making disciples.
In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul is speaking at the Areopagus in Athens and he says, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
Have you ever thought that you are where you are, that you have the neighbors and co-workers that you do because God appointed you to be their neighbor or co-worker or friend right where you are? Paul continues by telling us why this is so: “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
Like the Samaritan woman, we have neighbors, friends and acquaintances who need to hear about the the good news of the Kingdom of God.
And it’s no mistake that you are in their lives!
God wants to use you to introduce them to Himself.
Our lives are busy! Too often we get going through our days and weeks and, without some intentional effort, we easily miss the opportunities that God is putting before us. I too often find myself with my head down and it’s go, go, go.
At our E2E events one of the training strategies we use is to have everyone take five minutes to pray about their life and think about the people in their life. We then have them make a list on a note card of everyone they can think of who they think is far from God. I’d like to challenge you to do this activity right now for yourself.
Here are the four steps:
If you can do this; if you can begin to pray daily, I can almost guarantee that God will begin using you. You’ll find your friends suddenly asking questions about God. You’ll find that you are more readily transitioning to spiritual conversations and that you conversations are more fruitful than you would have imagined.
God delights to answer these kinds of prayers for our lost friends and family members.
And then they won't believe just because of what we have said, but will believe because they have met the Lord Jesus!
What is it that has shaped the way you think about the world around you?
What is shaping your worldview right now?
I often say that we are all, always being discipled by something. We don't have a choice. The things we listen to, watch and read are shaping us. They are shaping how we think, forming our character and driving our interests.
It is a reality.
If we go to church for an hour and a half each week and then spend two hours every day watching Oprah or listening to Rush Limbaugh, guess what? Our thinking, character and interests will look a lot like Oprah or Rush. We don't have a choice. That's just what happens.
The choice we do have is in the content of what we listen to, watch or read. We are in control of those choices.
Our Multiply team was reflecting today on the desires of our heart. It was during this time that I began to think back over my life and the things that shaped some of my strongest desires. One book in particular came to the forefront of my mind. I read it first in college and it began to shape my thinking in powerful ways. It was the missionary biography Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot.
There are others as well and with today's post I want to share with you 7 missionary biographies that I think will fuel your missions fire. They certainly have for me!
You'll probably be able to find most of these in a church library near you, but if not, you can purchase them from Amazon at the links given.
I in no means intend to say that these are the seven best missionary biographies that are out there, but they are seven that get me excited and they are stories that will both inspire you and help to shape your heart for the nations. I hope you will find time to read them all in the next year!
Perhaps you have a favorite missionary biography - if so, please share it in the comments below.
We are excited to announce that we have three Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) training events scheduled for this spring!
This three day training event will prepare you to make disciples who make disciples among the unreached.
You can learn more about the event by reading the program description and looking at a sample schedule a the Program Page.
You can find all your registration, training dates and pricing information at the Trainings Page.
I've been a Christian all of my life and this is the most practical training about sharing my faith that I have ever received!
E2E Training Location and Dates:
Wichita, Kansas - March 9 - 11 (register here)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota - April 26-28 (register here)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota [E2E Family Training] - May 31 - June 2 (learn more)
Help Spread the Word
Will you help us spread the word about these great training opportunities. Please take a moment to share this post on your favorite social media platform.
Feel free to print off a few of these flyers to hang up at your local church. [E2E Flyer]
Thanks so much!
This Christmas break our family visited the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas and learned all about the race to the moon. The men and women who worked on that program were asked to do what seemed impossible. They had to work toward answers to questions that they did not yet know existed. They needed to develop systems that were not yet developed. The vision to put a man on the moon was far bigger than their own capacities and yet they did it. They worked with a determination that would get their men to the moon.
“. . . but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.”
- Luke 5:19
If you are not familiar with the story of the paralytic whose friends would let nothing stop them from getting him into the healing presence of Jesus, I’d encourage you to stop and read the short story in Luke 5:17-26.
These were men whose determination would let nothing stop them from bringing their friend to the feet of Jesus. They were men of stubborn perseverance who knew their ultimate objective and were determined to achieve that objective no matter the obstacles and no matter the cost.
This is a theme Jesus brings us back to again and again in the book of Luke. A man loses a single lamb and he leaves the ninety-nine others to search far and wide for it. A woman loses a single silver coin and sweeps the house in search of it despite the nine others she has in her pocket.
Relentless searching seems to be the appropriate response in the kingdom of God to the reality of the lost. And celebration is the appropriate response to finding what was lost.
What’s It Going To Take
I first heard the term “Wig-Take” in 2007 in Chang Mai Thailand. Our trainer was telling of his work in SE Asia among an unreached people group numbering in the millions. He was sharing the plan that he and his team had developed to reach the entire people group. They had started in prayer with a simple question that he called a Wig-Take question: What is it going to take to reach this people group?
I’d grown up with questions like, “How can we get more people to come to our church?” a vision which suddenly seemed stunningly inadequate in light of his vision to reach an entire people group; a remote ethnic group of nearly 2 million people with no gospel access and no known believers and who were largely illiterate.
It began to seem even more inadequate as he shared stories of their work among these people and what God was doing.
This question presupposes a vision that is bigger than me. It’s presupposes a God sized vision, a vision I could never accomplish alone.
Pastor Chris Galanos writes about how he discovered the Wig-Take principles and explains it this way, “What’s It Going to Take to Reach Everyone in the People Group?” Not what can I do or what can you do. Not what have others done before us. Not what’s possible. No. What’s it going to take? That’s the question we must ask! We have to be willing to do whatever it’s going to take! [read the whole article]
Our trainer in Thailand challenged us with the statement, “If your vision is something you can accomplish by yourself, your vision is probably too small.”
I want to encourage you to begin to dream and pray for a God sized vision for your context.
Perhaps you live in a city: What is it going to take to reach everyone in your city?
Perhaps you live in a small rural town: What is it going to take to reach everyone in your county?
Perhaps you are working among a remote group of people in Africa: What is it going to take to reach ALL of them?
Pray to the Lord of the harvest for a God sized vision and then begin to ask yourself, what is it going to take?
Are we willing to do whatever it is going to take?
How did you do?
In last week's article, I put you in charge. (Read Last Week's Article)
I wonder what your thought process was like? I wonder if you wrestled over where to send your people and how many to send?
Maybe it was a simple decision.
With today's post I want to share the two videos that inspired last week's post. They also answer a question for us.
Not, what would you do? That was for you to wrestle with.
They answer another question:
What are we actually doing?
I want to encourage you to watch the following videos and then to take some time for reflection.
With today's article I want to ask for you to step into the role of the decision maker. I'd like to give you a scenario and then ask you to think about how to approach the problem. And if you'd like, you can share your ideas in the comments section.
You're in charge, so let's set the scene.
You are standing in a field on an open plain. Around you stand ten stadiums, each with a capacity of 100,000. Each stadium is filled with people and each person is wearing a colored t-shirt.
These stadiums represent the world's 7.5 billion people. The color of the t-shirts represents where the people in those stadiums are at concerning the good news of Jesus.
Off to your right, three of the stadiums are brightly lit by the stadium lights. Roughly 10,000 of the people in each of those stadiums are wearing bright gold t-shirts. As you scan the crowds, these gold t-shirts are scattered among a sea of other people wearing yellow or green t-shirts. The yellow t-shirts make up about 30,000 people and the green make up another 59,000 people in each stadium. A final 1,000 people wearing dark blue t-shirts are huddled in small clumps, mostly near the exits.
Let's call this clump of three stadiums Group C.
Next to these three stadiums are four more stadiums which are also filled to capacity. The security lights are on but not the stadium lights. The majority of those sitting in the dim light of each stadium are wearing green t-shirts. Let's say roughly 60,0000. There are about 30,000 yellow t-shirts, another 9,000 dark blue t-shirts and only 1,000 gold t-shirts scattered throughout the crowd. The stadium is dominated by green with some yellow, a hint of dark blue and a barely perceptible touch of gold.
We'll call these four stadiums Group B.
Finally the three remaining stadiums sit shrouded in darkness. Neither the main lights nor the security lights are on. These stadiums are filled to capacity as well. Each stadium is filled from corner to corner with an expanse of dark blue t-shirts. The vast majority, 99,950 people are wearing them. A mere 50 people in gold shirts which you can hardly see are spread all around each of these stadiums, mostly near the exits.
These three stadiums we'll call Group A.
Where will you send them? You are in charge.
What's your move?
We want to wish you a Merry Christmas!
May you experience the full joy of the savior in these next few days and may 2019 be full of new adventures in risk taking obedience to Jesus!
Until all have heard!
I've been thinking a lot about the different phases of the growth of the church. In a place like Turkey where the church is small - well less than 1% of the population are followers of Jesus - the church looks different than it looks in a place like Europe or the United States - places where the church has been established for hundreds, even thousands of years.
When I came across the video below, I found it helpful as I struggle with some of the realities of my context in the U.S. where the church has largely been institutionalized and professionalized and is quickly moving into a post Christian reality. It was helpful as well as I thought about the many works we are helping to support in unreached areas of our world - places like Turkey.
There are some good lessons to be drawn from Ray Vaughn's explanation. Church historians will undoubtedly find flaws in the explanation, but I found it helpful to think about. As we consider the different contexts where we seek to be faithful to proclaim the good news and make disciples, there are lessons that we need to learn and apply.
This teaching is 30 minutes long. It is a basic overview of what missiologists have observed in each of the phases of the growth, expansion and decline of the church throughout history and throughout the world. It is descriptive not prescriptive, a backwards glance at what has happened, not theoretical thinking about what we should do. I'd encourage you to find some time to watch it with a few questions in mind.
Do you know someone who wants to reach the nations?
Do you know someone hungry to be on mission in their own back yard?
Do you know someone who you'd like to see stretched in their faith?
If the answer was yes to any of those questions, consider giving the gift of a three day training weekend this Christmas - or New Year - or any time really.
Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) is coming to the Midwest this spring.
E2E is a three-day missional training experience for local church groups and individuals. The vision of E2E is to provide an entry-level short-term mission experience for young adults, families and church groups with the goal of multiplying healthy disciples and raising up missional leaders. E2E's unique vision is to challenge, inspire and invite participants into an experiential learning weekend that will cultivate a heart for the least reached of our world, locally, nationally and globally and provide them with the tools that will help them make a difference.
I've been a Christian all of my life and this is the most practical training about sharing my faith that I have ever received!
We have three events on the spring calendar already and spaces to fill.
Wichita KS - March 9 - 11
Sioux Falls SD - April 26-28
Sioux Falls SD - May 31 - June 2
Pray about who you'd like to see go to an E2E training event and then let them know that you want to pay their way!
Send them an email or write them a note to find out what date and location works best for them.
Then stop by the registration page and sign them up.
The E2E Community
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers dedicated to equipping and encouraging everyone everywhere to proclaim the gospel and make disciples among the unreached locally, nationally and globally.