We were so excited to let our church know about the vision for the next 10 years. We decided that our upcoming 10 Year Anniversary service on September 10, 2017 would be the time to do it. It would be our first time in almost 10 years that all 10 campuses would be together in 1 service.
Since we knew it would be such a big announcement for our church, we decided to do a few sermon series leading up to the 10 Year Anniversary to help set the stage for the announcement.
The first series we did in January 2017 was called Meltdown: The Decline of the American Church. As I described in The Whiteboard post, this series was influenced by the book, The Great Evangelical Recession. In order to justify a complete change in strategy and direction, you’d need to start by demonstrating the need for a change. This series talks at length about how the American church is in trouble & unless something changes, it could be heading for a great crash.
A few months after that series, we decided to do a series on what we believed was the solution to the problem, DMM. We called this series Miraculous Movements, after the book Miraculous Movements, and spent a whole series telling stories about the great Disciple-Making Movement happening right now in Africa.
We believed those series would help us set up the big reveal at the 10 Year Anniversary.
When that day arrived, we were all so excited to meet together in one place. We rented out the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum which could host up to 6,000 people or so. We had all 10 of our campuses meet us there for one big service to celebrate what God had done in the first 10 years & cast vision for where we felt God was leading us in the next 10 years.
You can watch the full 10 Year Anniversary service here.
As I got up to speak at the service, I shared with our church much of what I’ve been sharing with you in these blog posts.
I told everyone about our friends around the world who are seeing millions come to Christ. In fact, some of them had traveled across the world to be with us that day. It was such an honor to have them there!
Then I told the church that our Leadership Team sensed God leading us to pray for 1,000,000 in the next 10 years. I asked the church if they believed God could do it & it was met with loud applause. If God blew away our “10,000 in 10 years” vision, we had no reason to doubt that he could do the “impossible” again in the next 10 years.
I emphasized that DMM invites every ordinary believer to be a disciple-maker & church planter, not just pastors. Ordinary people being disciple-makers isn’t particularly controversial, but ordinary people being church planters is probably a bit controversial in our country. But not in the countries I told you about in the Millions article. I heard a story that average believers often refer to themselves as “church planters” in these movements when people ask what they do. They’ll say, “I’m a taxi driver to provide for my family, but I’m actually a church planter.” Or, “I’m a school teacher to make a living, but I’m actually a church planter.” The ordinary believers think of themselves as church planters because they see it as their job to be out making disciples & seeing churches planted, not just the job of their Pastor.
To explain how DMM can reproduce so quickly to reach millions of people, I shared with the church an analogy using elephants & rabbits. This analogy was introduced to me through the DMM Catalyst Training that I went through a few years ago.
It goes like this.
Imagine you have been asked to feed a village that is running out of food. Estimates are that in 3 years they will face starvation. Would it be better to give them 2 adult elephants or 2 infant rabbits to help them avoid starvation?
What would you say?
Unless you grew up around rabbits, you’d probably go with the elephants because they’re a lot bigger & theoretically you’d think the food supply would be greater. But you’d be mistaken. Here’s why.
|Only fertile 4 times per year||Practically continuously fertile|
|Only 1 baby per pregnancy||Average of 7 babies per pregnancy|
|Mother carries baby for 22 months||Mother carries babies for 1 month|
|Age when you can have a baby: 18 years||Age when you can have a baby: 4 months|
|3 years: 2 elephants become 3||3 years: 2 rabbits become 50,643|
|3 years: 26,000lbs of food||3 years: 661,000lbs of food|
|5 years: 2 elephants become 4||5 years: 2 rabbits become 69,000,000|
|5 years: 38,000lbs of food||5 years: 925,000,000lbs of food|
Rabbits reproduce so quickly & elephants reproduce so slowly that elephants could never produce as much food as the rabbits. Not that you’d want to eat either, though!
Now, think about this illustration in terms of church strategies. Elephant churches are traditional American churches. They’re big. Usually have a building. Require lots of money. Require a staff. Hard to reproduce. Rabbit churches are small churches. Often meeting in homes. Led by ordinary, unpaid believers. You find these rabbit churches in the rapidly growing movements all across the world.
After this illustration, my DMM Trainer, Stan, said, “Elephant churches are strong & helpful, but they reproduce so slowly that we need more rabbit churches to truly reach the world.”
DMM author, Jerry Trousdale, said:
God bless elephant churches; they serve wonderful functions. But from every strategic perspective, megachurches and even average-sized churches will never fulfill the Great Commission without a goal and plan to launch thousands of rabbit churches. Only a rabbit church has the ability to reproduce rapidly, thrive in a dangerous environment, and naturally facilitate obedience-based discipleship within every member, as evidenced by Disciple Making Movements taking place among Muslims [referring to movements that have broken out in Africa].
I told the church that day that eLife is clearly an elephant church & we all love the elephant. But if we want to reach 1,000,000 in the next 10 years, we not only need elephant churches, we also need rabbit churches if we’re going to get the job done.
If an average rabbit church has 20 people, we’d need to see 50,000 churches started in the next 10 years to reach the million. Then, working backwards, I shared that if we need 50,000 churches in year 10, we need 25,000 churches in year 9, 12,500 churches in year 8, and so on. Continuing to work backwards, that meant we needed to plant 50 churches in our first year.
Then I announced that we had just finished training our first 54 church planters to leave our church & go plant these rabbit churches.
We asked the 54 rabbit church planters to come to the stage & our church gathered around them, prayed for them, and commissioned them to go out, make disciples & start churches!
It was such a powerful moment that symbolized what we were praying for in the next 10 years!
You could tell that the excitement & sense of anticipation in the room was at an all time high. We couldn’t wait to see what happened next!
Again, if you missed the service, you can watch it online here.
Next step, what do we do with the elephant?
Part 7 – Leverage