S T M O
(Submission, Transformation, Multiplication, Order)
"Building a Culture of Kingdom Fruitfulness"
Overview of STMO
Create a culture of joyful submission
I. Right theology that teaches:
a. Full submission to Jesus. Hebs. 10:9
b Submission to each other out of our reverence for Jesus. Eph. 5:20
II. A church that sees the fruit of a culture of submission:
a Greater integrity
b. Greater authority
c. Purer love
d. Becomes counter-cultural
III. The difference between obedience and submission is that one can obey grudgingly but one cannot submit grudgingly.
Create a culture of transformational congregations
I. Manifestation of the supernatural presence of Jesus
a. In worship services
b. In the everyday life of believers
II. Every church using a "system"
Definition: a system is a workable plan for taking all the resources that come in the front door (i.e. time, energy, creativity, money etc.) and using them in a systematic way to gather lost people to Jesus and to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded.
Examples of systems:
Create a "generous" culture
I. Create "Regional Centers of Multiplication."
Focus resources on churches which have a distinct call to reproduce themselves in churches that will reproduce.
This will help to move us from addition to multiplication. This will require outside expertise.
II. Involve every church in missions ministry.
III. Involve every church in ministry to the poor and disenfranchised.
IV. Involve every church in church planting in some way.
Create a culture with Biblical Order
I. The role of leadership is to maintain order and health in the church so that Jesusí work can move forward without distraction.
II. Maintained by healthy BOAís. MEGís and DLís.
III. Biblical order is maintained by:
a. An outside overseer.
b. Membership integrity/discipline.
C. A formal system of relating to each other, i.e. church structure.
D. The regulation of worship.
STMO* Ė Building a Culture of Kingdom Fruitfulness
(*Submission, Transformation, Multiplication, Order)
One way to view the WAVE is to see it as the path that carries the church from the Bishopís vision of "Healthy biblical community of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders, groups, and churches"; to a church that is fulfilling the Eight Expected Outcomes. The vision is a good vision, and the expected outcomes are a description of the kind of church we want to be. However, for some pastors and lay people there is a gap between the vision and the outcomes that they are not sure how cross.
There are two ways to bridge this gap. One is to set a series of specific goals such as the number of new church plants, the number of revitalized congregations, goals for new conversions and goals for the number of people in discipleship programs.
Becoming goal oriented is one way that God has used to bless His church and move it toward fruitfulness. But goal setting also has some weaknesses. For one thing it requires the creation and implementation of top down initiatives which push people to meet the objectives of the larger organization. A second weakness of goals is that they tend to last only as long the person who led the goal origination process is present. We have all seen a situation in which a pastor left a church and his or her goals and vision left with them.
The second way to bridge this gap is to focus on culture building. If we can create a culture of Kingdom fruitfulness churches would bear fruit as a natural consequence of their congregational life. This is a healthier path from our Vision to our Expected Outcomes.
This path is not about creating some new program, but rather creating a culture that shapes who we are and what we do. Cultures help people to understand what actions they should take. They are the "rules" by which an organization lives. These rules communicate both expectations of those in the culture and "ways of doing things" by participants in that culture. Cultures also tend to last longer than one generation. We are proposing that the work of conferences and districts is to build a missional culture that is healthy and fruitful, and which leads to increasingly fruitful local congregations.
The role of a denomination, conference, or district is to assist congregations in reaching their full potential in Christ Jesus. Each congregation is different and each congregation must answer for themselves the key question "What is God calling this congregation to be and do?" A healthy culture assists churches to live out Godís calling by pushing them to greater faith and greater fruitfulness.
The culture that we want to build together involves four parts: Submission, Transformation, Multiplication, and Order, or STMO.
Why we need to change our current culture
Every organization has an "organizational culture." These cultures can be healthy or unhealthy, productive or unproductive. A church culture is concerned not just with productivity, but also includes the arena of Godís action among His people. In some church cultures the supernatural power of Jesus is more evident than in others. Some church cultures are more fruitful for the Kingdom than others. Listed below are some of the reasons why we need to consider change in our current culture.
- Because the role of a conference is to help congregations become all they can be, i.e. centers of faith and fruitfulness. The actions of a conference can shape the culture of local churches in a positive or negative direction.
- Because among the churches in the East we have physical and financial resources worth millions and people whose time, energy and creativity are priceless, but all of which could have much greater impact for the Kingdom.
- Because the role of leaders is to take the church to the place where God can bless us. We cannot bless ourselves; we can only bring the elements together in which God will release growth. Mark 4:26-29.
- Because the role of a conference in helping congregations to thrive is to build a healthy, fruitful, culture rather than resourcing congregations to run some specific program that may or may not meet the needs of a particular congregation.
- Submission Ė Creating a culture of joyful living
How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9 (NIV)
Scripture teaches us that submission brings the life of Jesus to us and to our churches. Jesusí act of submission to the Fatherís will in the garden unleashed the power of salvation in the world. This is our model for creating a life-giving culture.
Beginning with Godís authority
One cannot overstate the importance of having a correct view of God for those seeking to do His work on earth. A correct view of God will enable the church to understand His absolute authority and His call to submit fully to Him and to each other. We submit out of respect (reverence) for the fact that He is the sole authority in the universe. Anything less than this spirit of full submission is a violation of the First Commandment and thus robs the church of its power.
If we are to build a fruitful culture for Jesus, the starting point is to call people to live lives of full submission to Jesus. As we teach, preach, and model this submission, making it the normal way of acting in the church as we relate to God and to each other, we will see supernatural power unleashed among us. Then and only then will we have authority to confront sin and Satan.
Submission and our relationship to Jesus
Full submission to Jesus is both a command of Jesus to us, and is the lifestyle to which Jesus is continually calling us. Like all commands of Jesus it is the path to life. Like all the callings of Jesus it is a calling into a deep relationship with Him.
Our submission is based both on His Lordship and His Fatherhood. We submit to Him as Lord because of His authority. We submit to Him as Father because he has chosen to adopt us and to redeem us. It is our deep love of our Savior, who made it possible for us to be adopted as Godís children, that compels us to submit freely to Him. It is our deep trust in Him that compels us to submit fearlessly to Him. This is life lived to the full. Loving fully and living fearlessly is the lifestyle that is given to those who live in a relationship of full submission to Jesus.
Submission becomes one of the sources of great joy in our lives. In Hebrews 12, this great chapter that exhorts us to submit to God as children, we are told that Jesus submitted to the cross "for the joy that was set before Him." We understand this joy of submission. Our joy emanates from the fact that He has redeemed us, we belong to Him, we are bought with a price, and we are set free to do His will. We live in daily communion with our Creator and our Redeemer, whose love for us is unmeasured. He is worthy of our full submission. We submit because we have found our relationship with Him to be the most life-giving experience we have had. Hebrews 12:9 sums it up succinctly, "How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live" (NIV).
As we walk in submission to Christ, we find our desires beginning to change. One part of the supernatural transformation that Jesus works in us is to change our self-centeredness. He births within us a desire to use our life for a cause greater than ourselves. He helps us to understand that our life has potential to be used for eternal good Ė- for His purposes instead of our own. He begins to heal the unhealthy self-interest that has damaged our relationships and kept us less than He intended that we be. The love of Jesus for the people of the world begins to flow in us and we submit to Him because we want His purposes in the world to be achieved through us. Spreading Jesusí love in the world and expanding His kingdom become our growing passion. As we journey forward in our relationship of submission to Him, our life becomes increasingly fruitful.
Fruitfulness is possible because another change that happens in those who submit fully to Jesus. He gives us power to follow His will. Jesusí submission in Gethsemane enabled Him to carry out the Fatherís will ("Yet not as I will, but as you will." Mt 26:39). He found the strength to walk this way through prayer. As we submit to God we come to understand what Paul meant when he said "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Phil. 2:13, NIV). Our submission to God is always a submission to the Fatherís will, and to His work in us that empowers us to follow that will.
Finally, submission increases our love for God and others. I John 2:5 says "But if anyone obeys his word, Godís love is truly made complete in Him." (NIV). This work of having our love made complete by God is the lifetime work of those who continue to grow and thrive. As we continually learn to submit, God continually perfects his love in us.
Submission and our relationships with each other
In the scripture we find not only the instruction to submit to God, but also the instruction to submit to each other. Ephesians 5:21 says Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV). A culture of submission will create a church in which boards and pastors submit to each other; pastors are submissive to their district leader and superintendent; district leaders and superintendents submit to their pastors and their conference boards; conference boards submit to the superintendent; and everyone submits to the bishops who in turn submit to the church.
All of this submitting to each other is done, not because of the ideas or traits of the person in authority over us, but because we love Jesus and respect Him as the sole giver of authority to individuals. It is our reverence for Jesus that causes us to live with submissive spirits rather than rebellious spirits. It is our reverence for Jesus that causes us to live under submission of those He has placed in authority over us.
Relationships based on mutual submission out of reverence for Christ have several characteristics:
- They become increasingly honest relationships. Because they are based on submission to Jesus who is "The Truth," honesty and integrity come to characterize all aspects of the relationship.
- Because there is greater honesty there is greater accountability as we "spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
- Our love for each other becomes more genuine. Because those who submit to Jesus are filled with His love, our love for each other continues to increase as our relationship with each other develops.
- Our fellowship with Christ and each other becomes the source of our true joy in life. This is what "makes our joy complete" (I John 1:4).
The Goal of Submission
Submission is not a goal in and of itself. The goal of submission is to enable the church to exercise of Godís authority. God gives His authority to bring His spiritual power and redemption to the earth to those who live submissive lives.
Spiritual authority is given to the church when it lives out full submission to Jesus and others. This authority given to the church is what unleashes supernatural power in the world. The hope for being a fruitful church is grounded in the authority over sin and Satan that is given to the church when it submits fully to God.
It is easy to find examples of the lack of a submissive spirit in the church, and this is a great tragedy. But there is a greater tragedy caused by this lack of submission and it is thisóonly those who submit to Jesus are given authority over sin and Satan. So everywhere there is a lack of a submissive spirit in the church there is a lack of authority to confront and defeat the work of Satan. This limits the supernatural work of Jesus in His church.
When Jesus healed the centurionís servant he marveled at the manís faith. "I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith," Jesus said (Matthew 8:10). The centurionís faith unleashed Jesusí supernatural power. But the centurionís faith was not based not on his own experience of expressing authority over others, but on his submission. "For I myself am a man under authority" the centurion said to Jesus. The centurion lived under the authority of the Roman Government. He gave his entire life for the Roman cause. Because of his full submission to the cause, he was given great authority over other soldiers by the government.
In the story in Matthew 8, the centurion recognized that there was a connection between himself and Jesus. The connection was that they both lived lives of submission which resulted in their being given great authority. Jesus realized that the centurion understood the role of submission in gaining authority. Jesus saw three things in the life of the centurion. He saw that the centurion understood the authority over him (in this case the Roman government), that he submitted to that authority, and thus he was given great authority to exercise the power of the Roman government. The centurion in turn believed that Jesus could heal his servant because he saw his own life story in Jesus: Jesus submitted to the Fatherís authority and thus was granted authority (in this case to heal) by the Father. When the centurion expressed belief in Jesus because he understood that they both were under authority and thus were able to exercise authority, Jesus was astonished and called this "such great faith." Jesus then responded by healing the centurionís servant.
This text reveals a three step progression in life of: 1. recognizing authority; 2. submitting to authority; and 3. being given the power to exercise authority. This progression that was modeled in the lives of the centurion and Jesus is the model for us today. This is described as "such great faith" and it moves Jesus to act in our behalf. As the church submits more fully to God, it will be given greater authority in the spiritual realm, which will result in greater fruitfulness in the church.
How Submission impacts the culture of the Church
In addition to bringing greater authority and greater fruitfulness to the church, submission will change the culture of the church in several other ways.
1. Submission moves us from the question of right and wrong (human judgments) to the root question of "What does the authority of God demand?"
God worked many miracles to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The goal was to get to the Promised Land. That was the goal simply because God said it was the goal for their future. But when the Israelites arrived at the border of the Promised Land, something changed. Godís authority that was sending them into the Promised Land was replaced by a human decision concerning whether going into the Promised Land was the right or wrong thing to do. The Israelites decided to send twelve spies into the land. Ten of those spies came back with a human judgment that it would be a wrong choice to enter the Land. The Israelites endorsed that judgment and decided that entering the Promised Land was the wrong choice. The price for shifting the basis for decision making from Godís authority to human judgments of right and wrong was death. For forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness until all those who had been involved in this move from Godís authority to human judgments were dead.
The church is called to live fully under the authority of God, and to base their decision-making on His authority. To shift decision-making to human judgments of right and wrong is as debilitating to the church as it was to the Israelites. It causes the church to see and act from a human perspective instead of a godly perspective. It causes leaders to do such things as encourage when they should rebuke and to rebuke when they should encourage. It causes us to make "safe" decisions instead of faith decisions. It takes us out of the realm of attempting things that can only be accomplished if God acts, and keeps us in the realm of doing only those things that can be accomplished by human power. Not understanding Godís authority clouds our vision and keeps our faith small.
The key issue for the church is to learn to be a church under authorityóto wean ourselves off human judgments that take no account of Godís power. Then we will be able to appropriate greater power of God to expand the Kingdom.
2. Submission will keep leaders focused on the fact that one of the key roles of spiritual leaders is to call people to follow God with their whole heart (i.e. fully submitted to God)
In the scripture it is possible to identify several roles for spiritual leaders, but the primary role of spiritual leaders is always to call people to follow God with their whole heart. This simply means that we continuously call people to submit every area of our lives fully to God. Leaders in the church who do not realize that this is their primary calling may be managing the organization well, but are not fulfilling their call to be a spiritual leader in the church.
The first commandment (You shall have no other Godís before me, Ex. 20:2)) and the greatest commandment (Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind Mt. 22:37 NIV) both speak to the primacy of the human act of full submission to God. If the church exists to glorify God, then we exist to fully obey his primary commandments by living lives of full submission. There is no greater objective that a leader in Jesusí church can accomplish than to help the church understand and live out full submission to God. Every other plan we have and every other goal we accomplish cannot compare with the lofty goal of a church that glorifies God by full submission to Him. Submission is the only human act that brings the eternal into the DNA of the church.
3. Submission makes the church "work."
Eph 5:21 is the key verse for guiding healthy interaction among Christians: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Every time I have attended a church board meeting where there was unhealthy interaction it has been clear to me that there were unsubmissive attitudes causing this unhealthy interaction. The church thrives whenever there is a spirit of submission to God and each other, and the church becomes carnal when people in power do not live out submissive lives. The Scriptural injunction to submit to one another is an instruction to loving interaction that holds others in high regard because we love them with the love of Christ.
When churches get bogged down in unhealthy relationships they get distracted from their purposes and it robs our mission of energy. It takes the focus off the supernatural work of Jesus and replaces it with a jockeying for power among people that demands our attention.
Submission is the guard against unhealthy relationships and loss of focus in the church. When there is an underlying spirit of submission in a congregation it is able to find and fulfill the purposes for which God brought it into existence.
4. "Submission makes possible the miracle"
It is written into the order of the universe that God demonstrates his supernatural power through people who submit to him as Lord. It begins at salvation and continues throughout our life. Those who submit to His Lordship are those whom he supernaturally delivers from Satanís power. The Bible recounts history--His Story--as he saves, heals, delivers, protects, redeems and sanctifies those who chose to make Him Lord.
Submission to His Lordship is always the human act of faith that has enabled mountains to be moved. For the church to gain greater supernatural power on the earth and to accomplish things that cannot be accomplished by human strength and power, it must continue to learn to be a church that is fully submissive.
5. Submission to God and each other is the only hope to unite us across cultures and make the church a witness to the world of what God intends Christian love and unity to be.
One of the greatest problems in our society is racial tension. Despite the great value society places on "diversity", tension between races and cultures still divides. The church, filled with Jesus love, should be a model of unity across cultural differences.
Building a culture of submission is one of the great hopes for addressing this tension. A church in which people submit to one another out of reverence for Jesus regardless of race or culture would be a great witness to the world. I believe that one of the reasons that God set apart the Free Methodist Church was to be a witness in the world to Godís reconciling power among people of different races and cultures.
A healthy church will change the rhetoric of our differences from the current paradigm of power and powerlessness to a pattern of mutual submission. In that atmosphere God will build a unity among the people that will be a great witness to the world.
6. Submission will guard our theology.
Submission is the core human activity that is the root of holiness theology.
Holiness theology teaches that God wants to set us apart to live holy lives so that we can be used for His glory. We have preached and taught that people need to "be sanctified." There has been much misunderstanding of this doctrine within holiness circles as people tried to explain what a person had to do to "be sanctified." Some taught this as being "filled with the Spirit," and that to be sanctified one had to pray earnestly and hope for some feeling of peace to come over you that would indicate you were "filled." Others taught that you just prayed to be sanctified and then accepted by faith that you were sanctified regardless of whether or not you felt anything. Regardless of the way it was taught, it was presented in such as way that there was something that we as humans had to do to "get" sanctified but few were clear on what it was that needed to be done.
The Scriptures are clear that the human act leading to our sanctification is submission to Lordship of Jesusí Christ. The church that calls people to full submission is calling people to sanctified living. When one decides to accept Jesusí Lordship and commits to spending the rest of their life learning what it means to submit to that Lordship, God begins to transform that person into the image of Christ and increasingly gives them His authority to confront evil and expand His Kingdom. This is sanctification.
The Fruits of Submission
When the church decides to live in submission to God and to each other, it will bring radical change to the church and to the community that the church serves. The church will be moved from maintenance to mission. It will have new passion for the lost, and members of the congregation will develop deeper love for each other. The church will become a force for righteousness in the community it serves. Listed below are several visible results of submission.
Greater integrity Ė Jesus identified himself as "The Truth." Submission to Jesus is submission to Truth. Every area of life that is submitted to Jesus will be characterized by increasing integrity. When a church builds a culture of submission people will speak more honestly with each other. They will relate to each others in more ethical ways. They will be Christ-like in their dealings with their family, other believers and the lost.
Purer love - Because Jesus is able to do his work in our hearts when we have a submissive spirit, He will always work to enable us to love others the way He loves them. When Jesus has free reign in our hearts He will transform us so that we can fulfill the Great commandment, and love him and others fully. In fact, Romans 5:5 tells us that His Spirit will "pour out His love into our hearts." This love is not an improved human love. This love is a pure, Godly love.
Greater authority Ė When the church is working in its own authority it is a weakened church. But God gives authority over sin and Satan to the extent that we are submissive to him. A submissive church then becomes a powerful church because they are entrusted with greater authority. Jesus gave the disciples authority "to drive out evil sprits and to heal every disease and sickness" (Matthew 10:1). The churchís work of making disciples also requires Jesusí authority (Matthew 28:18). The only reason the church can make disciples is because all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus. This authority is given to those who are disciples of Jesus. Greater authority is given to those who have submitted more fully to His authority.
Greater Unity Ė A church that is fully submitted to God and to each other will be a church that is marked by the love of Jesus. People will still have different opinions and relationships will still take hard work, but the work of the church will be done with freedom. There will be freedom from rebelliousness and self-interest. There will be freedom to join hands and do the work of God together. There will be freedom to keep the Mission as the central focus of the church.
A truly "counter-cultural" church that can impact present day culture ĖFor the church to have great impact it must live by different values and than the world. It must find its power through submission to God and not in power sources of the world. The message of submission is contradictory to our natural instincts and how we have been taught to live in this world. The system of this world is based on gaining power by gaining some kind of advantage over others. The church is called to gain spiritual power by giving its life away. The church that freely gives its life away is the church that will have spiritual power and authority to impact the world around it.
Transforming Congregations Ė Create a culture of Transformational congregations
Transformation goes hand in hand with submission. Submission leads to transformation and transformation in turn pushes us to greater submission. The power of Jesus to transform is only available to those who submit. Satanís attempt to get us to keep rebellious places in our heart is an attempt to keep us from Godís transforming power.
The second goal of STMO is to create a culture of congregations in which lives are being transformed by Jesusí power. We want this transformational type of congregation to be the norm. There are several qualities that characterize these congregations.
First, we want all of our churches to be congregations that move beyond just seeing change in people--we want congregations that are seeing people truly transformed by the supernatural power of Jesus. Too often we see people come into church and live differently for a period of time as they seek to live a "Christian" lifestyle. Then they leave the church and go back to living the way they lived before attending church. The change was temporary, not transforming. We want our congregations to point people to the life transforming power of Jesus.
Second, we want congregations in which the supernatural is a normal part of their group life. Our passion is for congregations in which salvations, healings, deliverance, abundant provision, and infillings with Jesusí love are the norm. We want congregations to gather expecting that God will show up among them and display his supernatural power to deliver and transform people.
Third, we want congregations in which people are naturally learning to fully follow Jesus with their whole heart through normal congregational life. We want all the resources that congregations posses to be used to gather lost people to Jesus and to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded. The resources that God has blessed a congregation with are intended to be turned into evangelism and discipleship.
There are two parts to a congregation becoming a transformational congregationóone is the manifestation of the supernatural presence of Jesus and the second is each congregation systematically investing its resources in evangelism and discipleship.
Manifestation of the Supernatural presence of Jesus to transform lives as the norm
Our great desire is that God will show up with power as our churches meet together. Our desire is that one of the results of our meeting together is that peopleís lives would be supernaturally transformed.
The Scripture talks about a Gospel that affects all of our being. I John 1:1 says that this is a Gospel that we can "see", "hear" and "touch". We should see this Gospel that affects our senses lived out corporately in our meetings.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:15-23 that this is a Gospel of "incomparably great power" for us who believe. This is the Gospel that we want to model and live as a witness to non-believers and as a hope for believers. Paul says that this power is available to the church because Christ has been appointed the authority over everything for the church (Eph 1:22). We want our congregations to make the power and authority of Jesus visible on earth. We want congregations that model openness to the manifestation of Jesusí presence in services and in the everyday lives of believers.
One thing necessary for Jesus to show up among us with power is that our preaching focuses on Jesus and His power. Jesus said in John 12:32 that when He is lifted up He will "draw all men to myself." Preaching that centers on Jesus is preaching that is inhabited by Jesusí power. The temptation of preachers is to focus on things that he or she perceives as needing change in the church. Many preachers end up preaching a message of "do more, try harder" when they should be pointing people to Jesus and His power.
We want preaching that lifts up the name of Jesus and calls for decision regarding His Lordship (Jn. 12:32). We want preaching that is persuasive and calls people to a point of decision and offers a moment in time to respond to Jesus.
Another way we will build a culture of transformation is through creating a culture of impartational Leaders. We want leaders who can impart the presence of Jesus to others. Throughout the scripture there were leaders who brought people into the presence of Jesusí power by their words, or by laying on of hands, or just by their presence. We want leaders who walk so closely to Jesus that they have developed the ability to impart Jesusí presence to others.
In a transformational culture the supernatural presence of Jesus will be manifest in both the corporate life of the church in the lives of individual believers.
Every church using a "system"
The second way we want to build a transformational culture is by every church using some system of evangelism and discipleship.
A system is a workable plan for taking all the resources that come in the front door of the church (i.e. time, energy, creativity, money, etc) and using them in a systematic way to gather lost people to Jesus and to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded.
Every church will be required to have some system in place, either one they create that is fruitful, or an existing system they adopt that has proven fruitfulness. If a pastor is one who likes to create his or her own system, they will be free to do that. If a pastor is a person who says "Why reinvent the wheel?" and who does not have time to try new things to see if they work, then the pastor will be free to lead his or her church in adopting an existing system that has proven fruitfulness.
There are several working systems that we can identify that have proven fruitful in churches. Some of these are:
- Four Ships
- Be Disciples-Make Disciples, T-3
- Masterís Mile
(See "Appendix A" for a brief description of each of these systems.)
There are other systems that enable a church to direct their resources towards evangelism and Discipleship. Perhaps the best known and most often copied is Saddlebackís "Purpose-Driven" system. We are currently trying to catalog systems and would welcome any suggestions of other systems to examine.
III. Multiplication Ė Creating a "generous" culture that leads to Kingdom Multiplication
Any missional culture will have at its core the concept of Kingdom multiplication. We exist to expand the Kingdom of God on the earth. It is easy for the church to forget that this is our reason to exist. Over time we can come to believe that the reason for our existence is to maintain the church. We want to create a culture that keeps a focus on Kingdom multiplication.
A focus on multiplication is in reality learning to live generously. At the core of the Gospel is God who loved the world so much that he gave the most precious gift he had. Our model is Jesus who freely gave His life. Believers who see the world through Jesusí eyes are compelled to generosity. A spirit of generosity will always lead to investing life in Kingdom multiplication. Listed below are some of the ways we will seek to create this culture of multiplication.
Create "Regional Centers of Multiplication"
It has been our recent history that most church planting projects are initiated at a conference level. While we have a number of healthy churches today because of this, it has been a slow, expensive, and often ineffective system of starting new churches. We have added a few churches, but have not yet developed a multiplication movement. As long as a conference is the primary initiator of church planting we will never get past addition. To move to Kingdom multiplication we need to plant churches that plant churches that plant churches.
In addition to the need to move beyond addition to multiplication, conference initiated church planting has another drawback. When a conference plants a church it creates an "infant orphan", an infant church that does not belong to anyone. When the infant church plant has times of struggle there is no one to whom it can turn for support. All infant churches need a mother church. (Note: there are two instances in which a conference may need to initiate a church plant--one, when going into a new geographical area and two, when initiating ministry among a new people group.)
Our goal is to develop expertise in creating churches that plant churches that plant churches, or what we are calling "Regional Centers of Multiplication." We are looking to identify pastors and congregations that are called by God to multiply churches. We want to build a data bank as churches learn to plant churches so that others will be able to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We want multiplication of new churches to become a natural consequence of our work for Jesus.
Appendix B is a document describing a Regional Center of Multiplication in more detail.
Characteristics of a "Generous" congregation
In addition to creating Regional Centers of Multiplication, we will create a generous culture in the following ways:
A generous church will be involved in overseas missions. At a minimal level every church should be giving regularly to overseas missions. Some churches will go beyond simple giving and will send mission teams to mission fields. Other churches may actually plant churches in other countries as part of their ministry.
A generous church will also find some way to be involved in ministry to the poor and disenfranchised. Paul described the Macedonian churches by saying: "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (2Cor. 8:2). We believe that God brings to every congregation opportunities to express their rich generosity. We believe that a congregation can take on the giving character of Jesus and freely give to those who have need and whom God brings across their path.
A culture of generosity will also motivate every church to be involved in church planting in some way. Not every church has to plant a church, but every church can advance its own health by being involved in bringing new churches into existence. A generous spirit will move a church beyond merely being thankful for their own congregation. It will move them to the point where desire and vision is birthed to share the joys of Jesus and church life with people in other communities by assisting in the support of new congregations.
IV. Order - Create a culture with Biblical Order
One role of leadership in the church is to safeguard the movement of the Holy Spirit in the church by creating a culture in which there is neither too much order nor too little order. Too much order becomes control and quenches the work of the Holy Spirit. Too little order becomes chaos which also quenches the work of the Holy Spirit. Leaders are to ensure that the work of Jesus can move forward without unnecessary distractions.
Order can be defined as maintaining the purity of the church through right theology and right relationships. (Historically many theologians add right administration of the sacraments to this list.) It is incumbent upon leaders in the church to see that the Bible is the sole source of our teaching about God and salvation, and to ensure that God is the supreme source of authority for the church. It is also incumbent on church leaders to see that relationships in the church are conducted with a Christ-like spirit and integrity.
Order in the church requires healthy pastors and healthy boards. Pastors who know Jesus intimately and who have a vibrant prayer life will be able to lead their church in such a way that it functions as a healthy community. They will model a spirit of full submission to Jesus and others. Healthy church boards that have a submissive spirit and a passion for mission will assist the pastor in leading their congregation to increasing health and fruitfulness.
Order in the church also requires healthy conference boards and superintendents. Health on the conference level will birth health in the churches a conference oversees.
In the Scriptures order in the church is maintained by:
a. An outside overseer Ė the church is accountable to and taught by an overseer who is not an immediate member of the congregation.
b. Church discipline Ė there are clear standards for church membership and church discipline in the Scriptures. New Testament churches did not hesitate to confront sin and discipline members. In our system membership conveys an important partnership in the Gospel and this makes maintaining membership integrity important for order in the church.
c. A formal system of relating to each other, i.e. church structure Ė The New Testament church had offices and structure. Deacons and Elders were chosen. These offices had specific requirements and responsibilities. Structuring with specific job requirements and responsibilities is part of maintaining order in the church
d. The regulation of worship services Ė Scripture has much to say about maintaining order in worship services. Keeping order in public meetings is one of the ways we guard the movement of the Holy Spirit in the church.
The goal of STMO is not to create some new program, but to create a culture that will bear fruit for the Kingdom for several generations. This culture is multi-dimensional and requires heavenly and earthly resources. It is based not on some flow chart but building relationships with God and others. It is implemented not by Ďselling" it to others, but by teaching leaders to act in ways that reflect the STMO culture. We believe that God wants to bless the Free Methodist church and that building a culture He can bless IS the role of leaders in the church. We believe this is the path from our vision of being a healthy biblical community of holy people, multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches, to our goal of congregations fulfilling the Expected Outcomes. Pray that God will enable us to build a culture of kingdom fruitfulness and that He will expand His kingdom through our work.
Summary Information about Church Systems
G-12 Ė A cell based system which God has blessed with fruit. It began in South America and is used by many churches in the U.S. It is used primarily in Brazilian and Hispanic churches in the U.S., but is being used by some English churches. It primary components are: Win, Consolidate, Disciple, and Send. New converts are sent to an "Encounter" weekend where they have a personal encounter with God that prepares them for spiritual growth, then are put in a group of 12 to go through the "Win, Consolidate, Disciple and Send," steps. In addition, G-12 churches conduct a "School of Leaders," to train future leaders in the church.
QCS Ė This is system being developed by Pastor Eliseu Gomes at Communidade Logos Free Methodist Church in Danbury CT. QCS stands for "Quality Church System." This system is based on dividing a region into sectors and starting new "Drive Throughs" in each sector. A Drive Through is a brief weekly home worship service in which the Gospel is presented and people are invited to accept Christ and then invited to church on Sunday. New believers are then placed in a Discipleship group that follows a curriculum written by Pastor Gomes. Communidade Logos has planted a number of new churches using this system.
Storehouse Ė This is the system being developed by Pastor JR Rushik at Storehouse church near Philadelphia, PA. Storehouseí Mission has three components: Know, Grow, Go. These three components are further broken down into eight ministry areas of the church which walk a person in stages from being an unbeliever through Christian maturity. Partnership teams are developed to minister in each of these eight areas. The primary Discipleship course uses a book written by Pastor Rushik. The church uses house churches for their small group work.
Four Ships Ė This is a system being developed by Pastor Jim Corbin at Beach Lake, Pa. Called "The Four Ships of our Faith", this system focuses church life on Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Othership. The goal of "The Four Ships" is to teach people to love God and love others. Pastor Jim describes it as a system of transforming peopleís lives. Beach Lake has recently planted a second church using the Four Ship System and is planning to plant several more.
The Masterís Mile ĖThis is a system being used by Pastor Jim Borgman at Trinity Fellowship, a Free Methodist Church plant in Vineland, NJ. Masterís Mile is an evangelism and discipleship system based on a mile race that is done in four laps. The first lap is called "Quickstart". In this lap a person learns the basics of following Christ. Following that are three more laps in which persons learn to follow Christ and develop a method of personal English Bible Study. The goal in lap four is that believers will lead people to Christ and take these new believers through a lap one "Quickstart" study. Several other churches are currently adopting this system.
Being Disciples Ė Making Disciples (T-3) Ė This is a system being developed by Bishop Snyder which focuses on helping churches to become "Transformational Communities." A Transformational Community will have five objectives: Godly competence, shared objectives, community learning, powerful pictures, and implemented systems. The group work is done in Discipleship Triads.
Creating Regional Centers of Multiplication
As we seek to plant churches that plant churches that plant churches, we desire to have some specific benchmarks by which we can decide which churches we should invest in. The following criteria were developed by the Maryland Virginia Board of Administration.
I. A church agrees to shape their future in accordance with the Free Methodist vision statement by officially adopting a written plan to become a healthy biblical community of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders groups and churches. This will be demonstrated by having a track record of conversion growth and multiplication of groups and leaders.
II. A church has a written plan to fulfill the denominationís Eight Expected Outcomes in the life of their congregation.
III. A church agrees to become a regional center of multiplication, becoming a church that plants churches that plants churches. The church will agree to the following:
a. To enter into a mentoring relationship with an organization or individual that has expertise in church multiplication.
b. To establish relationships with other multiplying churches for sharing of knowledge and encouragement.
c. To become a center of expertise for multiplication in their region.
d. To create as part of the vision plan for that congregation a suggested timetable for regularly and continually planting new churches.
e. To mentor the new congregations they plant in how to plant new churches so that these new congregations become churches that plant churches.
IV. A church agrees to become a "Global Local Church"
a. A congregation with basic information of what God is dong in the world through its own global outreach efforts.
b. Annual giving that reflects its commitment to world evangelism
c. Globally focused prayer that permeates all of its worship events.
d. A coordinated strategy that touches its own neighborhood, its city, its Samaria and the ends of the earth.
e. Strategic partnerships which give ownership to the global vision of its people.
f. An annual celebration of its global impact.
V. All grants given to an "RCM" church would be matched by the congregation