God's Plan for Multiplying His Church

A Genesis Church intentionally identifies, develops and sends out pastors, missionaries and new church planters, with a focus on the educational strategy of the denomination.

 Image found on http://thecripplegate.com/falling-pastors/laying-on-of-hands-ordination/

Image found on http://thecripplegate.com/falling-pastors/laying-on-of-hands-ordination/

“Here, this is for you!”

“Thanks…I think,” I said, skeptically eyeing the gallon-sized Ziplock bag that my friend had just placed in my hand.  

You would be skeptical too. Inside the plastic bag was a creamy, beige mixture that had tiny bubbles in it.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s Amish Friendship Bread!  Have you ever had Amish Friendship Bread?  It’s only the MOST delicious cinnamon bread that exists!  I don’t know why it’s called bread, because I eat it for dessert – it’s so good!”

“I don’t get it.  This is just creamy liquid in a bag.  I don’t see any bread.”

“That’s the point!  10 days ago someone gave me a bag of bread starter, just like I’m giving you, and now it’s my turn to find 3 more friends that want to make it too!  Turn your bag over, and you can see the instructions written on the outside.”

The instructions consisted of 9 days of “mashing the bag” to keep the yeast active, as well as adding to the starter some more ingredients on day 5 – a cup of flour, a cup of sugar and a cup of milk.

On day ten, I was to add the ingredients again, and then divide up the mixture into five 1-cup portions; 2 cups were for me (1 to make bread and 1 to start my cycle all over again) and the other 3 portions were supposed to go into gallon-sized Ziplock bags and passed on to 3 friends that want to make Amish Friendship bread.

As long as you follow the process, there will be Amish Friendship Bread every 10 days.  The starter will never go bad!

I love the concept of Amish Friendship Bread, because it’s a recipe that BEGINS with the thought that it will grow and spread out – when one person gets a taste for that yummy cinnamon bread, it means that pretty soon 3 more people will be benefiting from the process.  And then those 3 people quickly turn into 9 people…and you can do the math – the ENTIRE WORLD should be eating Amish Friendship bread within a matter of a few months, right?  So why aren’t we?

Because the process gets stifled.  The directions are simple, but a few days go by and we forgot to mash the bag and our yeast dies.  Or we get to day five and didn’t have all the ingredients needed to add to the mixture.  Or the worst scenario, we followed all the directions, but were too busy (or lazy) to finish the recipe.

As the body of Christ, I think we must be like Amish Friendship Bread!  Every congregation has the responsibility of sharing the gospel with the entire world!  Congregations aren’t started in communities in order to just feed themselves – they are fed in order to GIVE! The sixth characteristic of a Genesis church is that it intentionally identifies, develops and sends out pastors, missionaries and new church planters, with a focus on the educational strategy of the denomination. 

Take a minute to answer these questions:

1.  In my congregation, who has shared that God is calling them to ministry outside of our local church?

2.  When was the last time my pastor or Sunday school teacher presented a formal opportunity, in a public setting, for people to respond to a call to ministry?

3.  When was the last time we presented a local minister’s license to someone, or sent a missionary on a mission trip?

4.  How many people in our congregation are participating in theological education opportunities such as the School of Leadership or seminary classes?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if we can’t answer these questions, then at the very least we are simply maintaining God’s work in the world and at the very most, stifling it.   In the words of our Amish Friendship Bread recipe, we forgot to “mash the bag” or “add the ingredients.” 

We often quote the verse, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers!” However, what if God has been answering our prayer, calling more and more from our congregations to his harvest field and we are too selfish to send them? Could it be that God blesses our congregation with the ability to develop AMAZING leaders in order to reach the entire world with His gospel?

Do we develop amazing leaders and then not let them go because we need them?  Have you ever used the excuse, “Why would I send so-and-so to such-and-such a place, when we have so much need here?” Stifling.

The challenge is to create an environment where we see it as an honor when God calls someone from OUR community to serve ANOTHER community.  In many ways, this is God’s blessing that we have been faithful to our role in discipleship in our local congregation – God recognizes our good work by allowing us to replicate ourselves all over our state, nation, and even the world.

When we begin to replicate ourselves, a movement takes place. God’s kingdom on earth expands and we have become key players in the expansion.  We no longer are just longing to see God at work; we become invested in God’s work.  We see OUR CONGREGATION as “starter” that serves the purposes of being spread out “to the ends of the earth”.

So this is ME, handing YOU a virtual plastic Ziplock bag of Amish Friendship Bread, and you have a choice.  Are you going to follow the instructions, replicate it and share it with friends, or are you going to stop the process and just throw it away? My prayer is that you experience the sweetness of developing and sending out the next generation of leaders!

A Genesis Church intentionally identifies, develops and sends out pastors, missionaries and new church planters, with a focus on the educational strategy of the denomination.

--Emily Armstrong, missionary in the Church of the Nazarene