Deuteronomy 1: Break Camp and Move on
Although I was very young, I remember the excitement back in 1989 when we moved to Nairobi from Mombasa, where I was raised as a child. For a long time, the number plate and color and shape of the hired truck from East Africa School of Aviation did not leave my mind. This movement was a life changer, we were now officially Nairobians and shortly our world would change our accents would change, our whether would change, our friends would change; our lives would change. I remember being excited by the Nairobi fog air, hating the cold water and the teasing of our accents by Nairobi children. But we were excited…we were going to be people of the city.
Whether physically or socially or economically, a movement will always come with a new world characterized by hope, anxiety, expectations, challenges and a changed life. Sometimes too slow, other times too fast….We were made to move. Where there is no movement – people stagnate. Stagnation is synonymous with death.
For most of us movement is for the better. A new home, office, class, a school or station may give you the hope of becoming an even better and hard working person/student/or business person. Movement like change is inevitable and it is good especially if you are moving forward. Moving forward is a precursor for growth.
This year we set out on our theme for 2018: EXPONENTIAL. This word captures a radical way of growth and multiplication where every believer is energized to multiply themselves through the power of the God working in them. This was the result of those who lifted their faith in Christ as modelled by the early church in Acts 2:42-44
In the first term we focused on Growing Deep- aligning and anchoring our foundations for Exponential growth in Prayer, in the word, in Fellowship and in the Cross.
However Growing Deep must result in actions of obedience and movement. We are called to respond not in passive faith, but in movements of Faith- Obedience in the form of simple and bold steps of faith from our comfort zones. Great exploits begin with simple, courageous and bold choices.
EXPONENTIAL – MOVING FORWARD.
What does this look like for us …
As we trust God for exponential growth- we are praying that God will stir many if not all of us, to be part of a movement with the aim of multiplying in our mission as believers, to reach the lost and to be salt and light in our community and beyond. This will require a paradigm shift.
It is said there are 5 levels of churches- Listen out and think which one we are. This applies to individuals, families, life groups, companies and others.
Declining or dying churches– Very few in Africa estimated at 5%, our spirituality won’t allow and if it comes to the worst…the son of the pastor will pick it up.
Plateaued churches– These are just there, from Jan- Dec nothing much changes. They are still dying churches but a little slower than the first ones. In Africa these are estimated at 40%
Growth by addition– The goal here is mega churches, adding to the numbers, the dashboard or key feature is numbers or sales, or addition. The result is fat, unhealthy churches with complexities and diseases. Shallow fellowship, very weak outreach if any, very few are engaged. Same faces doing the same thing over and over again. Many pastors are concerned here about numbers. This is about 40% of churches in Africa.
But level 4 churches Grow by reproducing or multiplication. Currently about 15%. These are churches that celebrate those sent out. More than bloating our numbers, we are concerned about growing our impact by reproducing ourselves. This means multiple communities born out of the existing ones. A new LIFE group born out of an old one, A new team, a new disciple born out of an old one. This was the way of growth for the early church. Every member, every unit had the seed to reproduce.
The early church grew from 1000 people in AD 40 to 33 Million by AD 350. This translates to about 3.5% annually. This was not addition or poaching converts from other churches….this was when the believers went out to exercise their faith to form new communities in various parts of the world. The church grew by reproducing itself.
This year we set our targets to grow by all round 50%, translating to 20 new families added into our membership, and 26 new ministry communities, Including LIFE groups, Bible Clubs, Frontline Community Ministries (Marriage, Prison, social justice groups) among others. This kind of impact can only be achieved by those who are on the move for Jesus. Will you be part of Team Exponential, It’s time to Move forward. It’s time to move forward from your area of stagnation into your area of fulfillment and purpose.
So what kind of mindset and attitude must we put on for this kind of movement? How do we Move Forward so that we can achieve Exponential growth? How do we un-stagnate? We draw our lessons from
Scripture: Deut 1:1-25
Moses is re-telling the story to the children of Israel now camped at Jordan Valley, while they were in the wilderness for 40 years. He reminds them of how far they had come and takes them back to when they gathered at Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt. They had witnessed God doing great things, protecting them and guiding them with a fire by night and smoke by day, feeding them with manna and quail. They had also seen some tough times walking in the wilderness and the torture and violence of the Egyptians while they were in slavery, so Mt. Sinai was a nice, cosy and safe place to be.
Like the children of Israel, Some of the things that cause us to stagnate are the wounds we carry from the past. The fears and injuries we have gone through, the lost innocence, the uncomfortable memories. The never again…type of attitude. Or the comfort of the present. When we build on our comfort zones and become more secure, how can we leave this to a world unknown? Both these are Fear motivated not Mission Motivated.
They were starting to settle and get comfortable at the foot of mount Sinai, but God did not call them to settle them here….God was on a mission to fulfill the promise to Abraham, he called them to conquer the territories and take up the vast promised land. They were on the Move. It was time to move forward.
They were to begin a movement. It was time to Break Camp and Move on. A conquest to take over the new territories that God had given them. They carried the DNA of Abraham and the promise still held In Gen 12: 2-3, God began this movement with one man Abraham- When He told him “Leave your country, your people and your father’s house hold and go to the Land I will show you…I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you, I will make your name great and you will be a blessing, I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, all the people of the earth will be blessed through you. Certainly this promise could not be fulfilled at Mount Sinai. They had to move Forward.
A movement is created when Missional People cease available opportunities to reproduce. Whether from the past or the comfort of the present- Fear has no place in those God has called to Move. So again and again, God spoke to the children of Israel ..be strong , be courageous.
Courage then is not the absence of fear but the judgement that moving forward is more important than staying where you are in fear.
Breaking Camp is not an Option, we must break camp in our personal lives and as a church if we are to be people on a mission. Breaking camp is often an uncomfortable exercise, culture change is very difficult but We cannot stay where we are. We must pray for courage, be bold and take risks and turn them into mission.
Why MOVE? – A movement has unseen power. It reduces resistance, it increases influence and it calls out others to greatness.
Having said this, Allow me to share a few reflections and lessons on what it takes to MOVE FORWARD. How do we start a movement?
A movement begins with
A compelling Vision that will require a change of Law – God called out to Moses to lead the children of Israel to be his people, to do great exploits and to conquer territories. The vision and promise he gave to Abraham was the motivation. Stagnation is the result of no vision. Unless we see clearly people will see no need to move. What vision in your life compels you to move?
As someone said there are 2 important days in a person’s life. The day you were born and the day you discover why? God created you not just to consume resources, eat, breathe and consume space, you were made to make a contribution. That is your Mission. Human life is about getting the most of this world- BIG LIFE, God’s LIFE in us is about giving the most.
This vision needed a new mindset- There would be a new way of doing things. The children of Israel were given the 10 commandments, A new set of laws that was to guide this compelling vision. As someone has said we cannot expect change if we do things the same way we have always done them.
A movement will begin when we align our behaviors and even our structures in the direction where God is calling us. For some it is change of occupation, moving houses, or the determination to begin a new set of disciplines.
In this season, Consider again that great question- Why on earth am I here? Consider what are some new laws you need to rewrite that will necessitate change of lifestyle, patterns e.t.c in line with the mission God has given you. Because of this, we will be proposing some changes to how we do things in this term.
A movement will take alignment of Leadership – Here I do not mean leadership by position, but leadership by responsibility and influence. While they were growing in number, the children of Israel were not multiplying in their mission, they were becoming more complex to manage, quarrels and disputes, distributing possibly the manna, the space was distracting them from the mission God had called them to. The burden became heavy for Moses. It needed restructuring of the leadership, calling out on others to share in the burden and the vision.
God will call out to you to share in the burden of leadership. Leadership takes place in the position of responsibility. Movement does not happen to those who fold their hands and watch from a distance. Our choice is to be part of the crowd complaining or being the ones who will fold our hands and do something.
This season we are trusting God to harvest Movement makers, those we call Team Exponential. We will be asking you to sign up for training and to be developed for responsibility? Consider Billy and Maureen for example
A movement will take the risk of spies to motivate the others. Moses sent out spies to the Promised Land who brought a good report. Spies are champions who will step out into pursuing their mission and purpose. How best can I explain this but celebrate one such spy. This year Bernice Kavenge Came to me with a desire to go exponential, she wrote in her prayer slip that she wanted to step out and make out a difference. Her back ground not so rosy and glamourous- Bernice stepped out and came out to me and asked I pray with her for an opportunity to reach out to those in Kitengela prison. She has since brought back great reports of what God is doing and we honor her for her courage and boldness, now a new community is forming out there because Bernice stepped out and Moved.
For us to go exponential there are those who will need to go out and show us It’s possible. There are many ministries, communities and opportunities waiting on us out there…we need champions of children, young mothers, business people e.t.c who will go out there and form new communities, not necessarily those who come to church here, but those who make a difference out there.
Lastly we must position ourselves for Movement
We must begin in the place of Prayer- WE must pray BIG Audacious Prayers, We must pray as though it depends on God, we must make prayers that Keep us awake at night. For this reason consider our 14 days of prayer and fasting starting next week as we trust. Write down some big prayers and we want to share those in our testimony Sundays.
A place of accountability- We must be in a place where others can share in our fears and encourage us on to move forward. This is the place for LIFE groups and Small communities. We will be changing our service time to allow for more time for accountable relationships to stir us and Keep us accountable to move forward.
A place of service- Consider your SHAPE, Your Spiritual gifts, Your hearts desires, your abilities, your passions and experience and sign up for Team Exponential. See Telegram for details.
My big question is this Are you Ready to Break Camp …It’s time to Move Forward.