Our Next 10 Years

Scott Ridout, Converge President
News

At the conclusion of a long season of ministry, Jesus walks with his disciples near Caesarea Philippi. Over the past couple of years these disciples, personally chosen by Jesus to be with him and trained by him, had witnessed many remarkable things. The lame walked. The deaf heard. The blind saw. Lepers were cleansed. Demons cast out. Food multiplied. Storms calmed. Gravity defied. Even the dead were raised. I wish I could have been there to witness these great miracles performed by the carpenter-turned-preacher.

Now, as Jesus and his disciples make their way along the dusty road, he turns to them and asks, “Who do the people say the Son of Man is?” Without missing a beat, the disciples give their answers: “Some say John the Baptist.” “Others say Elijah.” “Still others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Everyone had an opinion about Jesus in his day. Good man. Con artist. Prophet.

Religious leaders wanted to kill him, the crowds were enamored with him, tax collectors and sinners loved him and his disciples gave up their livelihoods to follow him.

“But what about you?” he asks. “Who do you say I am?”

This is the most important question in the world. In the grand scheme it doesn’t matter what others think about Jesus. What matters is what you believe. What we believe about Jesus will impact our eternity.

Simon Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

‘Foundational to the task’

Fair or unfair, through the years I have grown to see Peter as an emotional, impulsive leader who often suffered from foot-in-mouth disease. (After all, how many of us would feel comfortable rebuking Jesus by saying, “No, Jesus, this will never be!”) Although we may laugh at Peter’s seemingly constant stumbling over words, in this moment God gives him clarity. Peter knows who Jesus is: Savior, Son of God. Each of us must acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord as well.

Jesus hears Peter give a good answer. Jesus stops, turns to Peter and the other disciples. He replies, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:17-18).

Peter must have been so proud in that moment. Yet Jesus doesn’t let him dwell on his lucidity. As in every other conversation in the Gospels, Jesus has an agenda; he’s preparing his followers for his absence. He’s prepping them for their part in his work in the future, after he has ascended. “Pete, you didn’t come up with that yourself. God gave you the answer!” Jesus replies. “But you’re right. I am the Son of God. Grasping this is foundational to the task I will invite you to be a part of. You see, I am building something, and I am inviting you to be a part of the work” (paraphrased). Jesus goes on to paint a picture of the community of faith we now call the church.

Taking our cue from Jesus

Converge exists to start and strengthen churches together worldwide. What we think about church matters. What we believe about Jesus will impact our eternity. What we believe about the church will impact the eternity of others. According to Jesus:

The church is built on/by/for Christ. The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ — who he is and what he has done. A church built on anything else has a faulty foundation. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). The greatest privilege anyone has in this world is to be used by Jesus to impact the eternity of others by joining him in what he is building. And Jesus has invited us into the work.

The church is built to advance. Jesus describes an aggressive, proactive church, a group fully aware of the spiritual battle at hand and fully engaged in the task. Jesus’ church is a group set on storming the gates of hell, breaking through enemy lines, overcoming obstacles, taking back lost territory and rescuing the prisoners of war.

The church is built to prevail. The church advances courageously and fearlessly with the full knowledge of how the story ends. They do not “grow weary or lose heart” (Gal. 6:9, nrsv). They are “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58, nkjv). They stay focused “like a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3) until people from every tongue, tribe, people group and nation (Rev. 7:9) have heard and responded to the gospel message.

Our Converge vision

Over national and district leadership teams, in partnership with Bethel University, have establish a 10-year plan for our movement. This new vision has four major parts:

Open the front door

We pray God will allow the Converge movement to expand through church planting, multisiting and unaffiliated churches joining. We pray our missionary force will double, with special focus on the unengaged, unreached peoples of the world. We pray the increased attendance in our churches will result in conversions and baptisms.

Close the back door

We pray God will allow us to develop many more healthy, growing churches by focusing on developing healthy growing leaders. Developing the health of our pastors and missionaries through improved assessment, coaching, training, collaboration and care will result in our congregants and churches growing toward maturity and investing in mission.

Tear down the walls

We pray God will help us become a movement strengthened by and known for our cultural diversity. For the advancement of the gospel, we will address potential spiritual, cultural and racial barriers. And we will challenge our congregations to courageously expand gospel living by extending hands of understanding, honor, friendship and partnership across these divides.

Build the house

We pray God will provide the resources needed to support our vision. This includes such things as branding, data, communication and funding initiatives and plans. Already our team has moved toward developing one database, one brand and a unified communication strategy. We have also begun to develop a $10 million church plant funding strategy.

We believe this emphasis will result in more followers of Jesus being more focused on the mission of Jesus. We appreciate your prayer, support and encouragement in this new season of ministry. We ask that we each humbly seek God’s will and leading for our personal involvement in this next season.

God has blessed us. He designed us to live for something bigger than ourselves. We are better together. The best is yet to come.

Learn more about hour 10-year vision and how you can participate.

 

This article was originally published in Point Magazine – Special Edition 2016 issue. Sign up for your free subscription today to Point Magazine.

    Point - Fall 2017

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