21 Steps to transit from being a barren church to a millionaire of souls.
1. Rewrite the job description of professional clergy from a pulpit orator, sacrament dispenser and tithe gatherer to a shepherd who feeds his flock to be healthy and reproducing by encouraging them to practice priesthood of all believers with authority to baptize, break bread and equip fishers of men. He must model a flat church structure where brothers and sisters submit to one another, pray one for another, serve one another, exhort, forgive and love each other. John 13:34, 35; Matt.18:21-22; Eph. 5:21
2. Move from meeting in temples to gathering in ‘houses of peace’. ‘God does not dwell in temples made by human hands’; rather He dwells in human hearts. For we are the mobile walking and talking temples of the living God, with a maximum of organism and a minimum of organization. Luke 10:5-9; Matt. 10:11-13; Acts 7:48-49; 2 Cor. 6:16
3. Phase out programmed Sunday ‘services’ while implementing informal, small gatherings. The Bride of Christ must have intimacy with her Lord every day, not only for a couple of hours a week, lest she become unfaithful. However, discourage cross-gender disciple-making, lest chemistry foul things up. Acts 2:46-47; Hebrew 3:13
4. Replace Mosaic tithing with Christian sharing, thereby harnessing the enormous, financial resources, hospitality and goodwill available in Christian homes. Believe that God is going to work a work among the nations through you which will leave you utterly amazed, and also provide resources for it. Deut. 8:17-18; Acts 5:32-34; Hab. 1:5
5. Dispense with wafer-and-sip Holy Communion services, and promote breaking of bread with simple Agape meals (love feasts) from house to house that believers take together with glad hearts, so the Lord can add to His numbers daily. Acts 2:46,47; 1 Cor.11:20-23
6. Replace professional music with believers speaking to each other in psalms and spiritual songs, making melody in their hearts to the Lord. OT worship required the sacrifice of four-footed beasts, the NT celebrates by offering two legged Gentiles as a living sacrifice. The meta church is a discipling hub and not a singing club. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Rom. 15:16
7. Shift from spectator-oriented church to ‘metastasizing’ interactive, participatory, prophetic church. Empower men, women and youth, to get the dragon off the driver’s seat. We, the seed of Abraham are blessed, “with multiplying I will multiply you and your seed will possess the gates of the enemy”. 1 Cor.14:26-31; Acts 13:13;18:4; Gen. 22:17,18
8. For powerful synergy, metamorphose mega churches into city, regional and national, networks of ‘meta’ (beyond) churches. Instead of bringing everyone under one roof, have them gather under thousand roofs, just like the mega church at Jerusalem planted meta churches across Judea, Samaria, Antioch, Corinth, Rome and beyond (meta) that grew in faith and in numbers (both quality and quantity) daily. Romans 16:3-15; Acts 1:8; 16:5
9. Infect barren Bride with the multiplication virus. A healthy mature female (Bride) implies that she is ready to have babies. Rebecca the Bride of Isaac was blessed by her family to have millions of children. The time has come for the Bride of Christ to stretch her tent to the left and to the right and to the north and to the south and produce millions of meta churches and fill the earth. Gen. 24:60; Isa. 54:1-5; Acts 1: 8;
10. Know your identity in Christ: you are a royal-priest; made so by the blood of the Lamb. Dismantle ‘Reverend’ culture that divides clergy from layman. Like Melchizedek, the royal-priest of Salem (city of peace), who served bread and wine, took tithe and blessed Abraham, bring godly governance to your city. Catch the vision of cloning royal-priests for every city and run with it. 1Pet.2:9; Rev.5:10; Hab.2:1-3; Isa. 9:6-7; Gen. 14:18
11. Challenge purposeless churches to enunciate a clear vision and a road map to translate that vision into action plan to ‘do greater things than these’. Armed with maps, stats and the Great Commission, go two by two and teach divine arithmetic of planting just one multiplying church every month and in ten short months, even the least shall plant a thousand meta churches. John 14:12; Acts 16:5; Luke 10:1, 2; Isa 60:22
12. Unglue from the pews all those Christians who sit, soak and stagnate and send them to heal the sick, raise the dead, tread on snakes and scorpions (expel demons), bind the ‘strongman’, plunder his possessions and demolish the gates of Hell. Matt 11:12; 12:29; 16:18,19; Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:19
13. Resurrect from being a dead organization to a living organism. Eliminate all extra-biblical cosmetic titles like Director, Chairman, CEO, and Secretary, by appointing five-fold ministry-gifted Elders, like apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, as equippers. By feeding, leading and keeping the flock healthy and reproductive, they must reach those who are outside the fold. Eph. 4:11; Tit.1:5-9; John 10:16
14. Empower every Sunday school, bible school, prayer cell, women’s fellowship, and cottage meeting, by calling them full-fledged, authentic churches. They must make disciples who baptize, break bread, equip laborers and send missionaries and like the school of Tyrannus, change spiritual demography. 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Acts 19:8-12
15. Filter out selfish-goat church members who come only for hatching (baby baptism), matching (wedding) and dispatching (funeral), and replace them with sheep who take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, strangers, sick and prisoners. Culling the non-productive barren sheep is a very important principle of sheep rearing. God chose David to shepherd Israel because he took care of “ewes great with young”. Matt. 25:31-46; Psalm 78:70-72
16. Simplify disciple making. Get a Bible and invite a couple of truth-seekers for a meal where the main dish is – The Lamb. Redefine authentic church as wherever two or three friends meet to eat, gossip the gospel, and to multiply. Meta church is the most cost effective strategy for city penetration and reaching the ends of the earth. Acts 2:46-47
17. Substitute seminary training by sharing the whole wisdom of God from house to house. Sound doctrine is the ability to convince those who oppose. The lost of this world do not need scholars as much as they need spiritual fathers and mothers who bring many spiritual sons and daughters to glory. Acts 20:20, 27; Tit. 1:9; 1Cor. 4:15; 2Tim. 2:2; Heb 2:10
18. Reorient your own personal paradigm. Your business, workplace or home, wherever you spend most of your time, is your ‘primary nuclear church’. It matters little whether you are the CEO, or the janitor or the kitchen queen, you are a full-time minister there and accountable. Adam and Eve were accountable for the Garden of Eden and failed.
19. Recognize ‘Hi, there,’ ‘Hello,’ handshaking, Sunday church as your ‘secondary optional church’. A church that does not send you out to ‘raise your holy hands to pray everywhere’ and equip you to make Christ ‘high and lifted up’ in your home, workplace and neighborhood is not worth going to. 1 Tim. 2:8; Isa. 6:1
20. Re-set your priorities to preach Christ where He has not been named. For this you do not have to go to church from Sunday to Sunday nor work from paycheck to paycheck. You are “ordained” to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill your home/workplace/neighborhood and the city with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Matt. 6:33; Rom. 15:20; John 15:16; Gen. 1:28; Hab. 2:14
21. Adopt a ‘completion mindset’. Evaluate your ministry with the Great Commission as the mandate with the number of disciples made, baptized, equipped and sent out, as benchmarks. Aim to be a millionaire of souls. Why not? After all, you claim to believe in a great and awesome God for whom nothing is impossible. At the very least, like Peter, shoot for 3000 baptisms by every Pentecost. Or like Paul, plant a multiplying church every day and claim that there are no more places left here for me to ‘fully preach the gospel’, not just with words, ‘but with signs and mighty deeds’. Acts 2:41; 16:5; Rom. 15:19, 23.
Shalom and Shalom again.
Date: July 2010
*Victor Choudhrie is a cancer surgeon by profession. He is a Senior Fellow of the American and British Colleges of Surgeons. He left his position as Director and CEO of the Christian Medical college, Ludhiana, Punjab, India, in 1992, to take up a full-time Church planting ministry in central India. His wife, Bindu, is also in a full-time church planting ministry, equipping women to be house-church leaders and trainers. They now have disciples making disciples in some forty countries. Theirs is presently amongst the fastest growing movements deploying volunteers with no paid workers in the field. God has blessed this ministry abundantly. In the year from Pentecost 2009 to Pentecost 2010, over one million underwent a ‘holy dip’ through their ministry partners. Large numbers of grassroots level leaders have been trained, who, subsequently, have planted tens of thousands of house churches across India and abroad.
Books written by Victor Choudhrie include: The Ekklesia, the Church in your House; The Apostolic Gardens; The Prayer Warrior; Teaching Cards and From Mega Church to Meta (Beyond) Church soon to be published. Electronic copies are available on payment of US $10 via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org