Where We Go From Here: Reflections on The Multiply Conference in Colorado Springs

Where We Go From Here: Reflections on The Multiply Conference in Colorado Springs

Dec 28, 2015

Where We Go From Here:

Reflections on The Multiply Conference in Colorado Springs

Pastor Chuck Meathrell

Jacob’s Well SDB Church

Lexington, SC


“We Need Hands.”

It’s the phrase that keeps coming to me. The struggles that we face at Jacob’s Well Church do not relate to lack of desire or will. We do have a little bit of money (not too much). But when someone asks me what we need at the Well, I’m not asking for money. It’s hands that we need. And it’s not just us. Other church planters I know face the same reality.




On Friday the 23rd of October, nearly thirty other SDB leaders and I attended the Multiply Conference for promoting church revitalization and especially church planting. From the experience, I have taken a number of very important lessons.

First, Seventh Day Baptists (and all other Christian groups) can no longer pretend that people are going to come and seek us out. One of the presenters, the pastor of a once-fading mega-church in the Pacific Northwest, told us that when he took over the church, he “kicked” the church members off the very large campus. He took a men’s Bible-study group of fourteen guys, broke it into two groups and got them to meet out in the community. He got major push-back, but ultimately it became a huge success. Shortly, those two groups turned into twelve. Amazing!

There is so much more “entertainment” out there than there has ever been before and there is no longer a cultural expectation for Americans to “do church” — so why should they? They’re just not going to come to us. We have to go to them. That means that all the activities that we have done in our buildings for all these years need to actually move out into the community: your sabbath school classes or life groups; men’s Bible studies; all of it. Take it out there and let it grow. You can’t make an impact on a community with which you never interact. It’s as simple as that.

This also applies to church planting — something that needs to be a priority for us. When planting a church in a new area, we have to be careful to get to know that community and its people. We have to come to love them and contribute to that community. It needs to see our faces out there participating.

Second, leadership is not something that we can expect to pop up on its own. Of course, there are those who demonstrate leadership abilities early on, but that can’t be all. Pastors in particular are going to have to be intentional about pouring their hearts into these young people. Love them, rebuke them, keep them accountable, and even be accountable to them. Do it on purpose. Leadership is something that must be cultivated.

Third, we must be intentional about loving people who are rejected by culture or even the rest of the Church. It’s not been traditional for Christians to be very accepting of people with earrings andtattoos, folks who act differently or are in some other way “undesirable.” Remember that these are the very people Jesus would seek out during His earthly ministry: the tax collectors, the harlots, the lepers, the culturally rejected. It is our duty to reach out to them and love them, because Jesus did. Jesus does.

Fourth, we need to build relationships with those around us. While this is true of our churches, this is something that should be considered by every Seventh Day Baptist. If you desire to share the hope you have found in Jesus with folks, you should build up genuine friendships with them. Do things with them. Enjoy being around them. Mean it.

Fifth, (don’t worry, I’m almost done) we need to be thinking about being the church rather than going to or doing church. What this means is that we must think less about ritual and connect ourselves with the needs of our community. We can show our community what it means to love Jesus by feeding the hungry, being a cultural center, and otherwise contributing to our neighborhoods. Several years ago, I preached at an old church, telling them that their building was an idol to them and that it was really a temporary heap of bricks. In retrospect, I’m lucky I got out of there alive. But I stand by those words. Too often our buildings become comfortable prisons for a church that needs to be moving among the community, making a deep impact. Here’s the tough question we must all face: “if my church were to close its doors, would anyone in the community notice — or care???”

Finally, contextualization. This ten-dollar word is “an attempt to present the Gospel in a culturally relevant way.” In other words, it means to change the way we present the Gospel but not to change anything about the Gospel itself. Remember that many of the things that we do in church are not appealing to folks on the outside. This is difficult for many of us who have spent our whole lives in church, but for me it means being willing to tradesome of the traditions that I love for the opportunity to win souls. I want to be able to invite in the lost and tell them about my sweet Savior. I am willing to even be uncomfortable in church if I can more easily lead someone to Jesus. Aren’t you? I’m not interested in cowboy church or heavy-metal church, but if that’s what reaches the population, I’m in.

So much information. Most of it was crammed into one very long day!

And it was worth it. Being challenged about my plans and my assumptions is what I needed. Hearing about the unbelievable way the lost are being reached is a comfort to my soul and I want to do this too. I know that the other men and women at the conference feel that way too. For us, it’s not just about creating more SDBs —

although that is a lesser goal — it’s about bringing our hope to the lost.

“We need hands.” From a practical standpoint, it is our simple truth in Lexington, SC. More than that, though, we need to make a difference. We have the tools to make this go and the heart, too. Now we worship and wait on the Spirit to move. The Multiply Conference was an inspiration and an encouragement to all of us that attended. For those among us in the denomination who are looking for a place to help, give, and pray, this is it. Brothers and sisters, the fields are white.

Let’s go.

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