As a church planter (five months into the work) I often get asked “What’s next?” Sometimes this is difficult to answer. Because of our approach (more incarnational than institutional/ relational missions more than event missions) there is not always some big thing on the horizon, except of course for next Sunday… every Sunday, being the Lord’s Day is a big thing for us. We keep tract of attendance when we gather (to some degree) but that really is not the measure of our mission being accomplished. We’re not just trying to put on stuff to get a crowd. On Sundays my aim is to exalt Christ and equip the saints. My objective is accomplished if our worship was Christ-exalting and if those present were equipped for the work of the ministry in everyday life through the Word of God.
The second arm of our mission is carried out in everyday life as we live by the gospel at home, work, and while at play, and as we cultivate gospel-focused friendships with unbelievers. So the mission is accomplished when married couples go to the gospel to help them overcome conflict in the home, when parents go to the gospel in disciplining and instructing their children, when employees go to the gospel when dealing with stress or the temptation to be lazy at the workplace, when employers go to the gospel in the manner in which they relate respectfully to their employees, when TV or computer monitor gazers go to the gospel as they discern what to view, and when neighbors or shoppers or vacationers or restaurant patrons go to the gospel in how they respond to those people God has providentially put in their paths. That’s hard to quantify but when we’re faithful we’ll see the Lord bring fruit from the labor—disciples are made, worship attendance will probably increase, baptism will be observed, but chiefly God will be glorified.
That is not to say there isn’t a role for a church to have a “next big event”. Events can be catalysts for building bridges into the community, for displaying the gospel, for showing Biblical hospitality, for building the church fellowship, and for meeting people who need to hear the gospel. We’ve got some of those things on the horizon this summer (let me know if you want to help). Really though, the next big thing may not be on the calendar. It may be what God has planned to do through you that you don’t even expect. Will you be faithful and ready?