WINDSOR, CANADA – When “The Gathering” began, we were a ragtag collection of people who gathered on Saturday nights for Bible study, prayer, and fellowship over coffee and baked goods. In the beginning, it was super casual. But when we organized and launched our small, but enthusiastic, church plant with Send Detroit, we knew we needed to implement some structure.
Since then The Gathering has taken on much more organization and ministry diversity, and lately the lanes are feeling a bit crowded with so many “good things” for us to do. Jesus is adamantly opposed to anything that gets in the way of people encountering Him, so we need to ensure that our church plants do not become cluttered. Clutter makes it difficult for people to encounter the simple, powerful, life-changing message of the gospel. We don’t want our plants to get so weighed down with programs that people get busy doing church instead of being the church. So we are convinced we must cling to a simple process that pulls everything together; a compelling process that moves people toward spiritual maturity (Col. 1:28).
What are we here for?
The Gathering exists to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our mission statement succinctly describes our heart. We exist to bring glory to God. This is the chief aim and purpose of humanity and of all creation. The glory of God is ultimate (1 Cor. 10:31).
The gospel is the historical narrative of the triune God orchestrating the reconciliation and redemption of a broken creation and fallen creatures through the life, death, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus. In short, the gospel is the good news that the everlasting and ever-increasing joy of the never-boring, ever-satisfying Christ is ours freely and eternally by faith in the sin-forgiving death and hope-giving resurrection of Jesus Christ (John Piper).
We are unashamedly gospel-centered at The Gathering, as every church plant ought to be, because the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, and in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed (Rom. 1:16-17). We intentionally emphasize the centrality of the gospel in our preaching and teaching, in worship, in calling people into community with one another, in service that seeks to extend his grace and mercy to others, and in making disciples who make disciples and planting churches (Matt. 28:16-20).
How can we avoid “drift?”
The expanding ministries of our church must keep the vision and mission dead center at all times. We must remove congestion from our church by courageously saying “no” to good opportunities so we can say “yes” to the best opportunities (Mary, in Luke 10:42). We cannot allow the vision to leak or the mission to drift off course. We must be tenacious and bold in order to maximize the energy of everyone in our church by creating alignment. If ministries or events do not align with our vision and purpose, we must firmly say no.
At our church we seek to make gospel-centered disciples by following a simple plan:
Create significant, meaningful, Christ-centered Sunday morning worship experiences that are full of simple worship, passionate prayer, and strong teaching.
Expand the scope and influence of small groups so everyone has an opportunity to join a gospel-centered fellowship where they can get connected, grow in faith, and serve God and others. Life-change happens best in small groups!
Offer courses, seminars, workshops or conferences (on topics like marriage, parenting, dealing with addictions, etc.) that supplement the teaching and life-change ministry of our church.
Say “no” to everything else.
Let’s keep it simple, focused, directed, gospel-centered ministry. It’s the better way to make disciples.
Courtesy NAMB: Originally published with the North American Mission Board on August 28, 2018
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garth Leno is a church planter working with SEND Detroit and is the lead pastor at The Gathering in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.