Written by: Chris Galanos
Let me introduce myself.
My name is Chris Galanos and I’m the Lead Pastor of Experience Life in Lubbock, TX.
Experience Life, or eLife as we like to call it, is a church that my wife & I started in our living room in April of 2007. I had just graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX and we felt God leading us to come back to my hometown to start a new church.
At our first meeting in April of 2007, we had 12 people in our living room. We prayed that the Lord would allow us to help 10,000 people commit their lives to Christ in the next 10 years. We all thought it was a crazy prayer, but we knew that “with God all things are possible (Matt 19:26),” so we started praying with as much faith as we could muster.
Fast forward 8 years. In our 8th year as a church, we passed 10,000 commitments to Christ. At our 10 Year Anniversary last year, we celebrated 13,337 people who indicated they committed their lives to Christ & 6,756 that were baptized in the last 10 years.
These verses shared at our 10 Year Anniversary expressed how we all felt about the last 10 years.
Ephesians 3:20-21 – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
God had truly accomplished infinitely more than we asked or could’ve imagined. We thought 10,000 in 10 years was impossible & God did it in 8 years. Glory to God!
During Year 8, after we passed 10,000 commitments, I started asking the Lord, “What do you want our vision to be for the next 10 years?”
That’s when I stumbled upon WIGTake.
I was reading David Garrison’s book, Church Planting Movements, and these 2 sentences leaped off the page at me & practically changed my life.
“In the years that followed, Langston was joined by Calvin and Margaret Fox. Together they planned what it would take to reach all of the Kui with the gospel.”
Whoa! What?!?! Langston & the Fox’s were missionaries to the Kui people group. Together, it says they “planned what it would take” to reach “all of the Kui with the gospel!” They didn’t plan to just start a church & reach a few people. They developed a plan to reach ALL of the Kui with the gospel. They were willing to do whatever it would take! Do you know how many Kui there are? According to the Joshua Project, there are 1.6 million Kui. They were developing a plan to reach all 1.6 million! Wow! Who does that?
I immediately thought, “I’ve never heard this before. They never taught me this in seminary.” Typically what you’re taught is to start a church or get hired at an existing one & hopefully grow the church over time. The plan is to reach a few hundred people or maybe a few thousand. But I had never heard of anyone developing a plan to reach an entire people group with the gospel. Is that even possible?
When I started eLife, I was hoping just to reach my High School friends & a few hundred others. I wasn’t thinking about how to reach my whole city, much less my whole people group. Again, who does that?
I started asking the Lord, “In the next 10 years, do you want us to develop a plan to reach our whole people group with the gospel like Langston & the Fox’s?”
I kept reading in Garrison’s book & I continued to see this pattern of aiming to reach an entire group of people.
“In the late 1980s, three missionary families gathered a few Maasai believers and began to develop a plan to reach all of the Maasai people.”
What!?!? These guys too? They weren’t planning to build a church & just reach a few Maasai. These missionaries were planning from the beginning “to reach all of the Maasai people.” Who does that? I had never heard this before in my life. What kind of faith would it require to think like that?
“By May of 1997, David had developed and implemented a comprehensive strategy to reach all quarters of Addis with a Church Planting Movement.”
What?!?! Again? Wow! I’m seeing it over & over as I keep reading through the book. David developed a “comprehensive strategy” to reach how many in Addis? ALL QUARTERS of Addis!
Then, later in the book, Garrison introduced the WIGTake question that these missionaries were clearly asking. He credits David Watson with initially forming the question for his work among the Bhojpuri.
“The Watsons used this approach when they viewed the enormity of the 90 million lost Bhojpuri-speaking people of India. David called his exercise a generational formula. Beginning with the WIGTake question, “What’s it going to take to reach 90 million Bhojpuri in this (20-year) generation?” From that beginning point, he devised the following calculations.”
The WIGTake question is: “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! After all, that’s our commission.
Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus told these guys to make disciples of how many nations? What did he want them aiming for? ALL THE NATIONS! Hop on Google & search for how many people were in “all the nations” at the time of this writing. What did Google say? About 200 million, right?
Ok, now put yourself in the disciples’ shoes.
Jesus just rose from the dead, he’s about to ascend into heaven & he’s about to tell you what he wants you to spend the rest of your life doing.
He essentially tells these guys, “I want you to go & make disciples of 200 million people. And don’t freak out at the task, I’ll be with you as you go.”
If I’m a disciple, I am definitely freaking out. I’d be thinking, “Jesus, there’s no way we can reach 200 million people. That’s crazy! How are we supposed to do that?”
His reassurance was simple yet profound. I’ll be with you.
Even the disciples were told to develop a plan to reach the world, not to just start a church, buy a building, hire a preacher, & hope it grows over time. Maybe that’s where these missionaries got this from.
They were developing plans to reach EVERYONE, much like Jesus encouraged his disciples to do right before he left.
Needless to say, this whole WIGTake idea combined with Matthew 28 rocked my world. I spent months wrestling with it & talking with the Lord about it. Eventually these conversations with God led to a complete change in the direction & vision of our church for the next 10 years. And when the vision changes, so does the strategy.
Part 2 – 1,000,000 in 10 Years