September Update Featured

September Update

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In today’s world we want things to happen instantly… right now, straight away. And when it doesn’t, we can be inclined to give up. Whereas I have found it to be true, that perseverance and fruitfulness go hand in hand.

On the weekend of 29 Sept – 1st October, a dream, 30 years in the making, is coming true! The very first Church Planting Training Centre begins. www.cptc.nl

I will be arriving in Holland a few days before this history-making weekend; beginning with a free church planting conference.  Please pray for this. 

The following 2 weeks…

  • I speak in a church in Almere, who are wanting to be part of VCI network.
  • Then we have a VCI all-in-day, with all our leaders on Saturday 7th October, in Oss (Sth Holland) & I speak in the church there on Sunday. Please pray.
  • I then travel back to Terneuzen for the next CPTC weekend.
  • Sunday & Monday - VCI church in Arras, France.
  • Back home to NZ by 19th

I have speaking engagements in NZ over the next 3 weekends. On the 8th Nov

I leave for Manchester, Belgium, and Ireland… but that’s for the next update!

Karen and I are involved in a new church plant in our home town of Cambridge. This is progressing well and on Sunday 17th September we begin meeting every Sunday. Please pray. It’s going extremely well.

My Multiplication book is selling well. It is already proving to be an extremely helpful resource for people. I would like a few to partner with me to sponsor a number of books at cost. This helps gets the word out there to people who need it, and of course helps our cash flow.

If you would like to partner with me simply send me an email or call me. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to purchase a book please visit visit our multiplication pagePlease pray for MULTIPLICATION to be an insightful resource.

Thank you - for your prayer and support…

Nick & Karen.

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Seven churches in seven years! Featured

Seven churches in seven years!

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We started this crazy faith journey 7 years ago of ‘Igniting Church Planting Movements in Western Europe’. Now we have 7 churches that are part of the network! What I felt God gave me 28 years ago is finally taking place.
 
I’ve just returned from my second trip this year to Europe. We had a great “VCI all-in day” in Le Havre (France). It was another fruitful, fun day and it’s always great to pray, impart, learn and hear what God is doing in the various churches. Every time, we meet new people and the network moves forward by another leap. We presented each church with a VCI certificate and some Euros to use for church planting. 

Following this, I had the privilege of speaking in Le Havre, Axel and Oss Churches, staying with leaders in their homes and meeting new leaders who are aiming to plant churches or join VCI. Very exciting. (It's the reason I go!)
 
The ‘Church Planting Training Center’ www.cptc.nl  is now full steam ahead.  We are beginning in September 29th – 1st October in Terneuzen; and will have a Church planting Conference on Saturday 30th. I will be back in Europe for this. We already have 6 students who know where they are going to plant… Yay! 

STOP PRESS: While the CPTC students pay a fee, there are other costs that are necessary, for advertising, sponsorship of 2-3 students (50% only), extra books and overseas teachers. If you would like to support this very worthwhile endeavour, please email me and I can give you details.

‘Multiplication’, my new book is selling well and is already proving to be an excellent resource for leaders and others thinking of planting new churches. If you want to sponsor 30 or 50 or 100 at cost - please let me know by emailing me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This would be a tremendous help in getting the message out there.

Something we need to realize is for those who are Christians and 99% of leaders in Europe the thought of planting churches and networks is a totally foreign concept. In fact, it’s even frowned upon. It’s an uphill battle every step of the way. In one City where we have a new church there are at least 249,000+ people who don’t have any personal relationship with Jesus. The City has a population of 250,000!! And the other leaders in the City are not happy with a new church beginning!!! 

So that’s the environment that most church planters in Europe face. That’s why partnership is vital, as I believe our leaders, church planters and churches will only reach their God-given destiny as we network together and really support one another.
 
Over the next few months I will be speaking in churches and seminars in NZ. Karen and I will continue to oversee the new church plant in our home town, Hope Chapel Cambridge. This new church is progressing exceptionally well.

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Let's be rabbits and not elephants

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Addition is good, for example 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12; That’s OK and certainly better than nothing, BUT what about 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 81? That’s multiplication!! Often we think bigger is better, for example a leader may talk about having a church of 500 then over time it grows to 1200. That’s growth, but let’s not mistake that for multiplication. 

Let's look at how Elephants reproduction: The are only fertile four times a year. One baby per pregnancy. A 22 month gestation period. Sexual maturity at 18 years. Maximum growth potential in 3 years from 2 elephants to 3! 

Now let’s look at Rabbits reproduction: Almost continuously fertile. Average of 7 babies per pregnancy. 1 Month gestation period. Sexual maturity at 4 months. Maximum growth potential in 3 years...from 2 rabbits to 476 million!!

The DNA of Jesus, His disciples and Abraham is one of Multiplication!

Jesus spoke about multiplication often. For example, look at forgiveness, 70 x 7. Also what about when Jesus mentions 30, 60, 100 times!! Matt 13:23, Mk 4:8. The feeding of the 5000 men (probably 13000 people in total) is a story of multiplication.

Of course look at the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Gen 1:28 / 22:15-18, Deut 1:10-11. My life verse in Eph 3:20-21, “God is able, to do exceedingly, abundantly more then we could ask, think or imagine…”  

Let’s not forget Jesus’ Commission in Matt 28:  “Go, make disciples of the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you!”

Often I see leaders wanting to build larger churches. After all, healthy things grow! But an apple tree will always be an apple tree, it will never be an oak tree or a poplar tree. I can pray & fast 40 days and 40 nights, but it will never be an oak tree!! But it is able to multiply! In fact if the seeds of one apple tree could all be planted, we would have an orchard, and in time orchards! That’s multiplication.

Even nature declares multiplication. So if you’re an apple tree, be the best apple tree you can be and do what you are meant to do: multiply!

So with the resources you have, how can you multiply? 

 

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Put down your rod and pick up a net

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I find myself speaking in various leaders’ meetings and environments about Multiplication. I wonder if we, as church leaders in the West, have been subtly and innocently sidelined towards being addicted to addition. I have come to a conviction that God wants to multiply His church, not simply add to it.

Look at Jesus’ call to Simon Peter and the disciples—telling them that He would make them fishers of people  (Luke 5:1-11 NIV), it was an invitation to partner with others. It was also an offer to the purpose of making them partners with Him in “fishing” for people, as well as a call to follow Him. 

But I have only recently seen the huge backstory to this passage of Scripture. It would have been a miracle to catch even 10 or 20 fish at that time of day. These were professional fishermen who knew the lake and its environs. To catch any fish at that time of day would have been an amazing miracle. But Jesus asks them to launch out into the deep and let down the nets. They caught so many fish that day, the nets began to break (and note that it was nets, not simply a single net). Also, both boats were so full of fish they were in danger of sinking. That’s MULTIPLICATION—an out-of-control harvest! That’s certainly not simply addition!

I believe Jesus is saying to us today: Multiplication is My desire and plan for every disciple and every church. I am convinced Jesus wants us to fish with nets (plural). He wants church-planting churches! Let’s not allow ourselves to be a cul-de-sac church—a dead-end-street church—a church that doesn’t plant churches.

Instead, let’s think about planting forests, or using nets,  not simply planting a tree, or fishing with a hook and line.

Here’s another way of looking at this: Say we want to multiply cars. It takes a huge amount of energy and time to make a single car from scratch. But imagine a factory where multiple cars are produced, and not only one factory, but many factories

I absolutely believe in Multiplication as a viable biblical strategy.

Let’s fish with nets… not just a hook and a line; lets plant forests or orchards…not simply a tree!

What do you think? 

To be continued…

 

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Having a Mutiplication Mindset

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Beware, this is not for the faint-hearted.  

It's a good thing to plant a church. But over the last few years I've been arrested and disturbed by the thought of multiplication, churches planting churches that plant churches. Instead of planting one tree, think about planting a forest, in fact planting forests. I confess I missed what I now believe is Jesus’ divine strategy: multiplication. I now see this is God's passion and purpose; I can't believe how I missed it. I wonder if we've been addicted to addition, prioritising gathering, saying to people 'come' while not prioritising and emphasising the commission of Jesus to 'go’ – especially in the West.

Please note: Every thought below assumes that lost people matter to God; Multiplication Mindset (MM) people hold this passionately. As such, people with an MM are always praying & thinking about how they can reach one more person for Jesus. 
 

What are the characteristics of a Multiplication Mindset person?
 

1. They understand discipleship is THE key. It's the number 1 priority to multiplication. After all, isn't this what Jesus commanded us to do? 
"Who is discipling you?" "Who are you discipling?"  Leaders of MM churches are interested in how many are being apprenticed, and how many apprentices are leading in mission. 
 

2. They don’t look at the attendance size of the church to plant church-planting churches - it's always about leader readiness. 
 

3. Often church is: 'We can do it: you can help'. They say: "YOU CAN DO IT: WE CAN HELP."

It realizes the priesthood of all believers. 
From volunteer to a person who is called.
How can we empower more people to be involved in kingdom activity? People don't ask in MM churches, "Am I called to ministry?" 
They ask, "What is the ministry God called me to?"
 

4. The MM person says, let’s pastor the city. Not just our own church.
 

5. The MM person says: Sending capacity is the focus, not simply seating capacity. 
 

6. The MM person develops an apostolic atmosphere, an apostolic culture. This is a high priority. 
 

7. The MM person asks: Does the mission have a church, not does the church have a mission?
 

8. The MM person has a "yes" attitude. It doesn't have a bias to a no attitude. 
 

9. The MM person has a minimalist theology about what church is. It simply wrestles with, “What is church for us?” It does not in any way water down Scripture. 
 

10. The MM person is about planting church-planting churches. It results in new networks and movements of churches. 
 

11. The MM person says, Let's give a significant % of finance for church-planting churches. (As a guideline at least 10%.)
 

12. The MM person focuses on releasing people and ministries before prioritizing bigger buildings. Here's a radical thought: Are you willing to make church multiplication a higher priority than church facilities? If you are not in a building yet, are you willing to plant your first church before building your first building? 

13. The MM person understands that local churches are the key drivers to begetting churches. Central vision is good but lacks greatness. A defining aspect of multiplication is churches beginning churches. Local churches take responsibility and ownership for planting churches. 

Todd Wilson from Exponential writes: "The prevailing value we place on accumulation is at the core of why less than 4 percent of U.S. churches ever reproduce (or why greater than 96 percent of churches never reproduce). Ponder the consequences of less than 4 percent of adults ever having children.

Lately, however, I’ve been encouraged that an increasing number of church leaders are becoming discontented with the elusive, addition-focused scorecard that never satisfies. These leaders are wrestling with redefining their success—shifting their focus and behaviors from attracting and accumulating to releasing and sending. They get that our “sentness” is at the heart of Kingdom multiplication and the fruit of biblical disciple-making". (Exponential newsletter - email Feb. 2017)

I believe he makes an important point. What do you think? In Europe particularly, MM people are nearly non-existent. Yet I am absolutely convinced the ONLY way to reach the nations of Europe is with an Multiplication Mindset.

A few Questions: 

1. Which Multiplication Mindsets (MMs) speak to you? How do they speak to you, in what way do they challenge you? 

2. What can you do about it now? 

3. What do you think about what Todd Wilson says? 

4. Which MMs do you feel you are functioning in, and in what way? 

4. What MMs can you action over the next year? 

5. If you are part of a church leadership team, how could you get others in a conversation regarding MMs? 

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March Update

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I have just returned from another fruitful trip to Europe. Here is a quick overview.

 

It began in Netherlands with a VCI all-in gathering in Ternuezen. The level of relational connectedness is steadily growing and it was delightful to see people interacting and praying with one another. A few of the leaders mentioned that the discussions and spontaneous interactions were highlights as we introduced various leadership topics. 

We will meet again in June & we will who is on track in planting another church. I know of at least 3 churches who are “in the process” of working with people with the objective of planting. Very exciting!

Then I headed for Oss (Sth Holland) to be with Christiaan & Jedidja, who Pastor another church in the VCI network. The timing was excellent and being with Chris & JD is always fruitful and fun. They are expecting their second child in just 4 weeks!

Chris & I met with the team for the Church Planting Training Center www.cptc.nl. CptC begins in September this year and is coming together exceptionally well. This will be an excellent strategic push towards planting churches that multiply. 

Amsterdam was next - I caught up with friends who are in the beginning stages of a brand new church plant in Amsterdam North. Their first meeting is an open information meeting in May. We will officially recognize ‘Public Church’ as part of the network in June. 

Then Arras in North France, this was a first for me. Arras has an interesting history, many New Zealanders fought near here in the 1st W. War. Many miners from Waihi came to this area to dig tunnels under enemy lines, as they were fast and experienced. 1000's upon 1000's of soldiers died from both sides and the many grave yards are sobering places. Craters where grenades and explosives ignited can still be seen. 

The Arras church led by Paul & Irene Mears is now part of the network. We will officially recognize this in our June meeting. They certainly have caught the mission of multiplication. Arras has 90.000 people and 4 churches. There are approx. 300 people who are Christians and I'm being generous!! There are towns around them that have no alive church. I find this disturbing and it's the reason we're doing what we're doing! 

Back to Amsterdam for a few days – friends, pastors & even a catchup with my Father’s sister.  And then to Paris – to a church in the middle of Paris for 7 meetings over Saturday and Sunday.  A very busy but enjoyable weekend.

In Summary: 7 churches are now part of the network. It's exciting to see the fruitfulness, synergy and power of connectedness.  Thank you for your thoughts & prayers. 

On the home front, Karen continues her work in the funeral company, and is constantly challenged in all sorts of situations. We have now been in our home in Cambridge for a year, and love it! We are enjoying getting to know our neighbours.


My new book Multiplication is about to be released. I'm exceedingly pleased with the content and have a conviction it will be another encouraging tool towards seeing churches multiply. I believe this is a prophetic book, written for a time such as this. 

Once again thank you for your prayer and support. Without you, this would be a very difficult and lonely journey.

 

Account Details for Vision Churches International

Bank: Westpac
Branch Name: Victoria Street
Bank City: Hamilton, New Zealand
Branch number: 03-0318
Account number: 0882461-00 Swift code for Westpac NZ: WPACNZ2W

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Leadership and the Pastoral, Shepherding side of ministry.

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Leadership seminars, conferences, books and articles abound. The proliferation of leadership resources over the last three decades is astounding. I applaud it all, get much as you can.

I remember when I went through Bible College (1981) there was one leadership magazine that came out of the USA once every three months that many of us devoured. (Yes it was a long time ago). That was about the only journal on leadership. How things have changed, which is brilliant, and it needed to.

BUT… it seems the percentage of Christians still hasn’t increased overall in NZ. In Europe the trend is downwards. I’m not sure about other nations, but a brief look at the USA stats suggests no increase. Yes, churches have grown larger and multi-sites are on the increase. And with all the leadership conversations and resources and conferences, there are some attitudes that I’ve seen develop over the last number of years that are not helpful. I don’t particularly like seeing it in Christian leaders; it’s not only in churches but also among leaders in companies and businesses. It’s the unhealthy over-balance in leadership and an under-valued aspect of the pastoral, shepherding, and caring side of ministry.

Love people . . . no matter what. I understand leaders are task-focused and want a job done well. Amen!... but people are never only an end to a means. They are not only and simply there so the work you want done gets done! No one is perfect or will ever be perfect. But leaders, care for people - be gentle with people; people will make mistakes – sometimes really bad ones! People will make bad calls, that’s just the world we live in. Love them, bring them through, just like Jesus did and does with us.

It seems that at a quick glance, communication is at an all-time high. But emails, Facebook, Twitter and with all the other platforms of social media more than ever there seems to be a famine of loneliness, and people feeling isolated like never before. One cannot replace touch and face-to-face communication. Could it be we are broadcasting and not connecting? Or announcing - not listening, connecting or truly hearing? Could we be declaring yet not discussing?  Sending a text or email is not communicating. An email is read how you the receiver feels. Tone, facial expressions, voice and empathy are not communicated through social media.

The community of faith has an answer if not the answer… shepherds, pastors, people who really care for one another.

Leaders, allow me to remind you:    

Be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving. Ephesians 4:32.

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive. Colossians 4:6.

When one gets behind the scenes in some leadership situations the talk is not very uplifting about others, and it’s certainly not gracious or attractive. Being a leader is not an excuse to be ungracious, nor does it give license for being harsh. Leaders should set the example in forgiveness, graciousness, and kindness.

A whole Psalm is dedicated to this shepherding thought. It’s a piece of literature people have recited at special occasions and funerals, Christians and non-Christians alike, in fact some say it’s one of the most famous and recognised passages ever written. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because it shows how much we need shepherding. After all we are known as sheep!

Of course it’s Ps 23:1-6, NLT: “The Lord is my Shepherd…” Not the Lord is my leader, apostle, prophet… but my shepherd. Because He is our Shepherd we have everything we need. He gives rest, leads, renews, guides, takes away fear, He is with me, protects and comforts, prepares food, anoints me, our cup overflows, goodness and unfailing love pursue me. All because HE is our Shepherd. Wow!! Of course we also have Ps 91 and other passages which speak of this shepherding, caring, pastoral role.

One of the names of God is Jehovah-Rohi; Jehovah my shepherd. In fact many of the names of God resemble this pastoral attribute. For example Jehovah heals, Jehovah our peace, my banner, my provider, He is there…

John 10:1-17. Jesus speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd. They recognize His voice, He calls and leads them. Jesus is speaking from an Eastern mind-set: in that part of the world a shepherd leads the sheep. In NZ the shepherd drives the sheep from behind. So maybe it’s out of the shepherding role, leaders lead? The passage goes on to say what a good shepherd does: He gives safety; He gives a rich and satisfying life; He sacrifices His life for the sheep; He brings others into the fold.

My thought is this, if you are going to lead well, learn to shepherd and pastor well. Or as J. C. Douglas said, ‘The right to lead comes out of how well we feed’.

My conclusion: 

Maybe, just maybe, true Biblical shepherding and pastoring means leadership is a result??

Maybe, leadership is a result of shepherding and caring for people? 

Thank you once again for taking the time to read this – and for your prayer support and encouragement.

Account Details for Vision Churches International

Bank: Westpac
Branch Name: Victoria Street
Bank City: Hamilton, New Zealand
Branch number: 03-0318
Account number: 0882461-00 Swift code for Westpac NZ: WPACNZ2W

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2017 is off to a great start

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Hello everyone,
 
2017 … it’s been a great start for Karen & I. We’ve been able to have some time away. We live in a country that has amazing scenery… we were wowed many times!

I’m off to Europe on the 14th of Feb. Netherlands, Belgium and France for 3 weeks. This is the first of 3, maybe 4 trips to Europe this year. I’ll also be in the USA, Canada and Australia later in the year.
 
We are starting a 'Church planting training Centre’ CptC in September this year in South Holland. This will impact not only Holland, but Belgium and hopefully the north of France as well. It’s an internship programme and students graduate only once they are involved in a church plant!!! As far as we know it’s the first of its kind in Western Europe… exciting! We have great teachers and a great venue; and the curriculum is currently being worked on by a fantastic team.  My dream is to have a CptC in every Western European Nation before I leave this planet!


I continue to travel around New Zealand most weekends, and am so thankful to God for the people I see coming to Christ and also many healings.
 
We are almost ready to publish a new book that has been a major focus for me for the past 6 months - edition 2 “Multiplication". I am very, very excited about this one. I’ve taken chapters out and put new ones in and it’s turning out better than expected. I have a conviction that this is a timely book for the Body of Christ. It will aid and nurture the process of Church planting wherever it is read. I see it used in seminars, workshops for pastors and in Bible training centers. There are over 20 endorsements from around the world; which is a great encouragement. I’m looking forward to placing this prophetic tool book in people’s hands.

Please allow me to place a couple of needs before you. Please hear my heart in this, I do not want anyone to feel any compulsion or pressure at all. All I would ask, is that you pray and ask God if this is something you could invest in…
 
ONE: The publication of my book, ‘Multiplication’.  The editing and cover are being processed in the USA and then it will be printed in USA, Europe, NZ and Australia (making it easier for postage/freight.) The approximate cost for the first 500 copies (which includes editing, formatting, design work and printing) is about $4,500 NZD.
 
TWO: The Church planting training Center, CptC. 
While the Church Planting Training Center has a fee per student, to do the job excellently we need extra funding.  (Costs are all $NZD).

- Scholarships (30-40% of the fee) = $500 per student.
- We want to provide text books = $3000 per year.                 
- Marketing $1500 per year. This is so important to get the word out.
- Teachers from other Nations $1500 per year.
- A part time administrator $7200 per year. (1 day a week. We currently have a volunteer, but we see this is unsustainable long term).

Total = $13,200 NZD per year. (this includes scholarships for 3 people).
 
If you want to give to this specifically please use the bank account details below and mark it accordingly.

Thank you once again for taking the time to read this – and for your prayer support and encouragement.

Account Details for Vision Churches International

Bank: Westpac
Branch Name: Victoria Street
Bank City: Hamilton, New Zealand
Branch number: 03-0318
Account number: 0882461-00 Swift code for Westpac NZ: WPACNZ2W

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Would you do life differently?

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I have said a few times to leaders who are in established churches, “Imagine if you were starting a new church, how would you live life and what would your priorities be for ministry?”
 
This is helpful paradigm to help us shift our thinking. What would you do differently? For when we have been in an established church for a long period of time, we think a certain way. Please understand I am talking generalisations.
 
Let’s take a few examples of living in an established church mindset and then we will compare them to a New Church Planting (NCP) mindset:
Finances – they are usually fairly stable and predictable. Budgets are set, cash flows are set, and usually come in somewhere around the target, as you will know if you have been in the church for many years. One usually can see what percentage increases are realistic and the faith projections that could be realised.
 
In a New Church Plant, (NCP) every $ counts. And it’s usually the same for mission and ministry outside of the church. Resources are seen to be in the harvest. 
 
Missions – usually there is a missions team, especially for other nations. A missions budget is set. Mission locally is in place with events and programs. In some churches, it doesn’t seem to bother leaders if people haven’t come to faith or been baptized in the last 6-12months.
 
In an NCP – It’s usually all about mission. It’s why the church was birthed. They are very committed to finding people of peace.

Pastoral – is mainly for those inside the church. I’m not saying it’s wrong it’s just that it demands focus. Paid, professional (part time, or full-time) are the people who pastor those in the church.
 
In an NCP, pastoring the community or the city is the captivating thought. How can people in our new church pastor people in the community? There is a focus in releasing everybody into their gifts. Let’s face it, there are not many people in our church yet.
 
 
Size of the congregation – if we have 1500 or 150 in the congregation, we can feel like we can relax, after all, if we are 1500 people or 150 people in the church you are in the 20% category, above average for church attendance. Wonderful.
 
An NCP looks at those outside of the church. It’s not who’s in the church, it’s who’s outside that’s the focus.
 
Events – these can be put on mainly for the church community, without too much thought of the community around them. That’s just the reality and by the way, it’s good to do for the church community.
 
In an NCP, events have the emphasis to win people to Christ or introduce them to the community of faith. Why? Usually it’s because of limited resources, people, and budgets, so we want to have the maximum impact for the community around us as well.
 
Facilities – are mainly in a building, which is wonderful. Health and safety regulations need to be adhered to, maintenance issues are ongoing, ongoing finances need to be raised for buildings. By the way, buildings are fantastic if used for reaching the community.
 
For an NCP, there usually is no building so renting is needed, and change of buildings can be adjusted when the needs are different and as the church expands. The church is more than facilities and is forced to live this out. Resources can be used for ministry. Homes are used for meetings, coffee mornings, dinners, offices, and evangelism etc.
 
Leadership – professional people lead. Of course it is not intentional, but the size of the church and the length of it’s existence can demand or determine this. Leaders can tend to do ministry for people.
 
In an NCP, usually it’s a team; it has to be because of time and the resources of the church. The leaders do ministry, but they are focused on equipping others and enabling them to do the work of ministry.
 
The list could go on. Please let me remind you that these are generalisations and are not in any way against larger churches. 
 
You will see from the above list that a New Church Plant has many, many limitations. It’s encouraging to note that limitations are not impossibilities or barriers, they are often God’s gifts to us!  Limitations cause us to pray, read the Bible, communicate, use resources, and let us see volunteers’ gifts and time very differently. Limitations push us to God and His limitlessness. They also cause us to think out of the box and help us focus on mission.

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One forgotten key for spreading the Good News

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Today I want to give you a key to successfully spreading the gospel.

“Oikos…It’s God’s Key to the natural and rapid spread of the Good News”!
Tom Wolf.
 
The oikos is one of the keys in evangelism in every local church - it’s a key for the newly planted church. Why?  Because the new church is small and people know full well what they can’t do because of limited resources.  A new church will be able to use this straight away.
 
Oikos is the Greek word for a household - a house of people.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your Household”[1]

Mission Professor Dr Tom Wolf says an oikos is, “a social system composed of those related to each other through common ties and tasks.  It is God’s key to the natural and rapid spread of the Good News.”
 
Did you know that the average person has 20-30 people in his or her sphere of influence, with a number of these being non-believers.
 
Oikos and the Old Testament
The Old Testament pictures the household as including several generations in a family - usually four generations including men, married women, unmarried daughters, slaves, persons without citizenship, and sojourners or resident foreign workers.
 
In Genesis 12:3. “All families of the earth shall be blessed.”[2]
 
Oikos and the New Testament
God continues to focus on households, i.e. friends, extended family, relatives, those with common interest and the same work environment.
 
In Mark 5:19 Jesus told the man he delivered of demons; “Go home to your friends (oikos) and tell them what a wonderful thing God has done for you; and how merciful he has been.”
 
After Zacchaeus was converted Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house (oikos).” (Luke 19:9).  Other scriptures. John 4:53, John 1:41, John 1:44
 
In Luke 10 we see that Jesus appointed seventy to go in pairs ahead of him into every city and place where he himself was intending to visit.  Included in the instructions Jesus (v5) tells them “Whatever house (oikos) you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house’ (oikos).”
 
Verse 6 says that, “if a man of peace is there (in that household/oikos), your peace will rest on him.”  In other words, look for the person who is receptive to the Gospel in your oikos, your household; which includes your friends, extended family, relatives, those with the same interest, and those in the same work environment.  Ralf Neighbour, a Baptist Pastor from America, defines your oikos as being, “Those you spend at least one hour every three weeks with, most people have 20 to 30 people in their oikos.”[3]
 
Today write down your oikos group.
In that oikos find out the ones who are receptive to the Gospel; there should be at least two.
 
Research conducted by the Institute of American Church Growth of Pasadena, California, in 1980 on why people have come to Christ and the church provides tremendous support on the effectiveness of the oikos concept at work today.  Over 20,000 people have been asked the question, “What or who was responsible for your coming to Christ and your church?”  I have done this many times in meetings and the percentages confirm what you see below.
 
Following are the percentages:
1-2%    Special need   
0.5%    Evangelistic crusade
2-3%    Walk in           
2-3%    Church programme
5-6%    Pastor             
4-5%    Sunday school 
1-2%    Visitation       
75-90%   Friends or relatives
 
The facts are, most people who come to Christ become Christians because of a relationship with friends or family; oikos.
 
I agree with Wolf’s words from earlier: Oikos is God’s key to the natural and rapid spread of the Good News. It is still is a powerful key today.

 
[1] Acts 16:31
[2] Also Deut 12:7; 14:26; Joshua 7:14
[3] I heard this from Ralph Neighbour during a lecture he gave to the Baptist Union in Auckland, NZ, in the early 1980’s.
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