by Tim O'Neill
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
If we were to reach 10,000 people for Jesus and see them become part of a church, how would we go about it?
Would we be best to see a church grow by 10,000 new believers? Or would it be more likely to happen by seeing 100 churches grow by 100 new believers or 100 new churches established that will grow in this way?
There is no doubt that God does use mega churches in strategic places to impact in strategic ways. Many of us are indebted to Willow Creek, Saddleback and Hillsong to name just a few mega churches that have had an amazing impact.
Mega churches have been around a long time, in fact as long as Christianity itself. The first century AD saw mega churches in Jerusalem and in Ephesus, and perhaps in other locations as well.
But throughout church history, mega churches aren’t the norm. The spread of Christianity saw churches of all sizes that met in all kinds of places. They met in houses, in caves, in halls, by the river, in courtyards and who knows where else!
Mega churches are generally led by extraordinarily gifted individuals who God uses in amazing ways to establish churches that have a major impact but that are anything but the ordinary. In fact the NCLS estimate that the average congregation size in Australia is between 60 and 70 people.
If we make the mistake of thinking that mega churches are the norm, we will easily get drawn into the comparison game where a pastor of a church of 100 ends us feeling that they are a failure. Unhealthy comparison easily seduces us to think this way, and as soon as we fall into this trap, the souls that have been saved, the lives that have been changed, the relationships that have been restored and the love that has been given under our ministry gets overlooked.
But if God’s plan for you was that you led a congregation of 100, and that was how He had wired you to do, His words to you would be “well done my good and faithful servant”. Unhealthy comparison stops us from hearing such words and instead makes us focus on what we lack.
A second consequence of unhealthy comparison is that we pull back from thinking God could use us, and so we sit back and don’t have a go. I wonder how many men and women are in congregations around Australia who know that they aren’t a Brian Houston or a Steven Furtik or a … and so they never consider that God may want them to lead a church? And so they don’t bother getting equipped to lead. They don’t bother learning ministry skills, and they don’t bother looking for opportunities and seeking God about them.
But maybe if the goal posts that we were aiming for was leading a church of 100 rather than a church of 1,000 or even 10,000, then maybe our perspective may be different? And maybe in our church of 100 or whatever size it is, there are men and women who could pioneer or lead a church of 100? Just maybe they are sitting there waiting to be envisioned by a leader who looks not at their inadequacies, but at their character and their potential?
Here’s a staggering thought. It’s estimated that the total weight of all the elephants currently living on the planet is about 4 billion kg. Thats a huge amount! But thats only about one tenth of the combined weight of all the ants alive today. They are estimated to weigh 40 billion kg! Who would have thought that ants weigh more than elephants! Of course they both have their place. Elephants are majestic animals that easily capture our attention while ants often go unseen but are pretty well everywhere. Both are God’s creation and are a critical part of life on earth. So too are both large churches and small churches.
For the leaders of churches of 100, what would it take to see another 100 people reached? Would you be best off trying to double the size of your congregation, or are you best off looking to equip, empower and envision others in your church to start another congregation that they may be able to grow to 100? Who are you raising up to one day take the baton of leadership from you?
Who are you discipling in this way? Who are you interning? Who is your Timothy about whom Paul said “For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful son in the Lord. He will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:17)
Perhaps you are someone who should be being equipped as a Timothy, but you haven’t put up your hand yet. If thats the case, go and have a chat to your pastor. He or she may be both surprised and delighted.
100 new churches of 100 people each. That’s 10,000 more people being reached. Pray about this. Just maybe God has a plan for you in this.
ps – if you want to explore internships or church planting and whether it’s for you, send me an email and I’ll help you to look into it.
by Tim O'Neill
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Welcome to the Movement Update for December 2016!
I’ve just been back a few days from India and was powerfully reminded whilst there of how we are united by the one God no matter what part of the globe we live on. It was wonderful hearing carols and Christmas celebrations from believers in India and catching a glimpse of how followers of Jesus from all over the world celebrate His birth. Christmas is a great reminder of the Father’s love in sending the Son to us, and that the Son, Jesus is the one who offers us all the priceless gift of new and eternal life that He provided through His death and resurrection. Across the face of the earth we remember, celebrate and worship Jesus regardless of location, race, or colour.
What a privilege it is to be His people – His body on earth, charged with the responsibility of taking His love and His good news to those who do not know Him. 2016 has been an exciting year for our movement. It’s been a year where we have made much progress in many areas. Some news and highlights are mentioned below. .
The 2016 A2A Conference
The 2016 A2A Conference was an outstanding success with the record number of attendees giving it an average rating of nine out of ten. We were served wonderfully by our keynote speakers Jossy Chacko and Stu Cameron, as well as by other speakers from across our movement. A highlight for many was catching a glimpse of what was going on in different A2A churches as leaders from those churches were interviewed.
Many were stirred by Jossy’s exhortation to leaders to be custodians of the atmosphere and culture within our churches and to be like thermostats which change the temperature rather than like thermometers which merely read the temperature. Jossy urged us to create cultures of excitement, rejoicing and expectation, commenting that where there is expectancy, God will do great things. We are changing the time of year when the next A2A Conference will be held, so that we can move away from exam time for students and teachers. We are yet to finalise the venue but will need to change to a new venue due to growth but will continue to hold the conference on the Gold Coast with the next conference to be held from the evening of Monday 30 April 2018 to midday Thursday 3 May 2018. Please reserve these dates in your diary now. .
Please Pray for the National Leadership Team Retreat
The National Leadership Team has four meetings scheduled for 2017, but prior to the first meeting, we will be gathering together for a retreat in Tasmania to seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are sensing that the Holy Spirit is leading us to build on and blend our charismatic, evangelical and restoration foundations to be a people who will walk in the power of the Holy Spirit as we embrace the Good News and the mission that Jesus has given us of going and making disciples.
The retreat will be held on Tuesday 14 February. We would greatly appreciate your prayers leading up to this time; that we will be able to hear from the Spirit and be carried along by Him (2 Peter 1:21). .
Coaching for Young Leaders
Just over a year ago, the National Leadership Team made a priority of not only trying to identify potential young leaders, but also of seeking to create a culture and implementing measures to see them developed with the aim of seeing them equipped for and potentially choose a life of ministry. An important part of this is a coaching program that is being put together and will be released in the new year. The coaching program will have a number of components that will include academic coaching, personal coaching, coaching via practicums and special modules that will focus on growing character and developing a persons worldview.
This is an exciting development that is important to the future of our movement. We will provide more information in the New Year.
Mentoring of Leaders
We are well advanced in developing a mentoring framework for A2A leaders with Ps Phillip Mutzelburg assembling a team of experienced leaders from within the movement as well as drawing on expertise from without. This is an important development in terms of our commitment to see our leaders be both healthy and enduring. More information will be provided as this is rolled out in coming months.
The A2A Pastoral Leadership Program
It has been great to see the number of people both young and old enrol in the A2A Pastoral Leadership Development Program this year. Feedback from people studying the distance education subjects offered by Global University and administered in Australia byICI College has been outstanding. Dr Andrew and Kim Corbett lead ICI College and can be contacted here for more information about the courses offered.
Internships in the Churches
One of the best ways of cultivating the leaders of tomorrow is by offering internships. In the church that I lead, I have had 6 interns this year, and spending time with them has been one of my highlights for the year as I have seen them grow in their faith and character as well as in their ministry gifts and abilities. Different A2A churches offer internships in a variety of ways, but the common goal is to envision and better equip men and women for ministry. It’s a way that we can raise up the pastors and church planters of tomorrow as well as elders and other ministry leaders. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about how an internship may help you. .
Photos of Your Church
You are probably aware that A2A has a Facebook Page that is open for anyone to look at. We put up posts every day with the intention of encouraging people in our churches in a positive way and in a way that helps them relate to being part of a wider movement; the A2A family of churches. We would love to celebrate your church and the good things that you are doing on our Facebook Page. You can help us to do this by putting photos on your Facebook Page and web site that illustrate the events that you put on as well as the life of the church. It would be great to have photos beyond your actual worship service that portray your community and activities. We can then use this photos to help others in A2A catch a glimpse of what goes on in your church.
News About Pastors and Churches
Welcome Maryborough to A2A. During the year we welcomed Ps Chris and Glenys Foley and their teams at Grace Community Church in Maryborough Queensland and Ps Gregory and Shurnell Williams at Transform Church in St Albans Victoria who have joined A2A.
Congratulations also to Harry De Vries and Momentum Church in Coomera Queensland who have launched out from Church One under the leadership of Ps Ted Pangilinan and Church One. And thank you to Ps Eugene and Judy Bognar who have had a wonderful time of ministry at the Rock Christian Church and are now handing over the reigns to Ps Sean Wood and his wife Annette who are relocating from Tasmania to Queensland with their family to take on the role of leading the church. Congratulations to Ps Eugene and Judy and to Ps Sean and Annette.
You can now view most of the sessions from our last conference on our Media Page. Check back in regularly as more videos are being regularly uploaded.
You will have caught at least a glimpse of how important it is for for the leadership of A2A to be identifying and raising young leaders. Indeed the future health of our movement needs this to occur, with the average age of our senior pastors being 55 years old. Some may ask, “What about us older ones?” Well, the good news is that scripture tells us that we have important work to be done as Scripture envisages intergenerational ministry.
Psalm 71:8 reminds us of this-
Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me, until I tell the next generation about your strength, and those coming after me about your power.
The two questions that I have for the many in our churches who are my age or older or even younger are these:
I make no secret of the fact that one of the best times of the week for me is a two hour group mentoring session with the interns in my church. During this time I try to pass on to them the important things that I have learned in ministry. That is something that all of us can do. I encourage you all to pass on what you have received to the next generation who are following in your footsteps. Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. May it be a time of joy as you enter into a season of promise.