Great things can happen when we don’t care who gets the credit!
I’m just gonna put it out there. I love to get the credit when things go well. A real part of me wants to see revival happen in Nebraska under a banner that says Eric Rafferty in big shiny letters.
But I’m not sure if there’s a bigger obstacle to planting movements that go beyond ourselves and our ministries than the need to get credit for it.
This summer I read Church 3.0 by Neil Cole and it messed me up in a lot of ways. In one section Cole describes a decentralized network of churches called Awakening Chapels that he started in Long Beach, CA.
After five years of planting Awakening Chapels, Cole and his team were able to trace the network through five generations of multiplication. They had planted churches that planted churches that planted churches that planted churches! A fourth generation church even sent planters to Thailand and India.
That kind of rapid multiplication is inspiring but what challenged me most is that Cole couldn’t count the movement beyond that. Once the network jumped to India they just lost track of it. Third generation churches weren’t called Awakening Chapels and many of the fourth generation churches knew nothing about Cole or his role in planting the movement that had birthed their church!
As I read this story a part of me wanted to track Cole down, shake him by the shoulders and ask,
“Don’t you care that you’re not getting the credit for this thing? Doesn’t it bother you that your church multiplication network is spreading throughout India and it probably doesn’t even know your name?”
- What if God could use you to win your whole city to Christ… but no one knew your name?
- What if someone else got all of the credit?
- Would you somehow feel cheated?
But great things can happen when we don’t care who gets the credit.
It’s clear to me that true apostolic leaders are motivated by a longing for a place/city/region to get the gospel. They don’t need to stake their flag on any mountain peaks, but they must see the place they love come alive with the gospel of Jesus.
Look at how the Apostle Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 3.
“5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Paul couldn’t care less who gets the credit for planting churches; all that matters is that they are planted on the foundation of Jesus Christ and are grown by the miraculous work of God.
That is an apostolic vision. The foundation must be laid. The house must be built. And it will be God alone whose name is written across the banner!
God has been growing this same longing in Stacy and I as we’ve lived in Omaha for the last three years. When we visit a new campus and meet students there our apostolic imaginations begin to turn and we begin to picture what it could look like for a community of students in that place to follow Jesus into his mission. As we pray for each of the 35 colleges and universities in Nebraska God has given us a sense of desperation for his gospel to be planted across our city and our state.
Collaboration in Omaha
In the last month God has opened doors for missional communities to be planted on new campuses in Omaha through partnership with a church that shares that desperation.
Bridge Church is a multi-ethnic church plant that has big vision. They want to see a generation of radical world changers raised up and mobilized for Kingdom of God transformation in our city. When they send someone to move into a neighborhood the fabric of that neighborhood is changed. The police department has even recognized the impact they’ve had in Omaha and have asked them to take on a few of the neighborhoods where crime is especially high!
And they share our vision to see missional college students empowered to plant the gospel in every corner of every campus in Omaha.
This last weekend we decided to co-host a gathering for college students from campuses across our city to cast vision for the great opportunity that God has entrusted to this student generation. 115 students from every campus in Omaha showed up to worship and to imagine how Jesus might bring transformation to our campuses, our city, and the world if we would say yes to Him and to His mission.
Students responded passionately to the invitation to plant missional communities on their campuses. Groups of students from three campuses without a strong missional presence said yes to planting something new.
Apostolic collaboration opened up possibilities of planting new missional communities in new places.
I don’t know if it will have our name on it and I don’t know if we’ll get credit for it. But the Kingdom of God is moving forward…
Where are opportunities for apostolic collaboration in your mission field?
What could God do in your city if you didn’t care who got the credit for it?