In England during the late 1800s, there was a famous cricket player named Charles Studd. Charles was part of a morning Bible study and accountability group of six other men. God moved amongst these men in a powerful way, and it culminated when Hudson Taylor spoke at their college campus about all God was doing to reach the people of China.
Convicted and ignited, these seven men abandoned all to take the gospel to China. Prior to leaving, they toured several college campuses, sharing the gospel and God’s heart for the nations, and in a powerful movement, God ignited missionaries across the country. They were dubbed the Cambridge Seven, and their influence spread beyond England to the U.S. where it inspired Robert Wilder’s Student Volunteer Movement.
The Cambridge Seven began with a small group of men praying and sharing their lives together, and God used that group to spark a generational gospel journey that took the good news of Jesus Christ across the globe. There were no programs or grandiose initiatives, just the gospel taking root in a community in such a powerful way that it burst into a contagious movement.
The interesting part of this story is that it is not unique. This is how the church has historically existed and moved in the world. This is the normative flow of the gospel among the people of God. We see throughout the New Testament, the Holy Spirit landing on a people and the gospel transforming their lives and then flowing out of their community to the world around them. At The Village, we call this gospel-centered multiplication.
The church was never meant to be a stagnant pool but, instead, a flowing river of gospel movement, disciples who make disciples who make disciples. All of us who today claim faith in Jesus Christ are a part of this flow. God used someone to save a man in Wichita Falls, Texas, who then shared the gospel with my brother, who then came home to Dallas and shared it with me.
In Matthew 28 Jesus gives marching orders to the church when he says, “All authority on Heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded them, and behold I am with you to the end of the age.” The mission of God pushes forward through the people of God.
Unfortunately, we easily fall into the trap of thinking mission is an option rather than a necessity, but community apart from mission is like a car without an engine. We believe the lie that the mission of God is about us, but the mission of God is about His glory, which He achieves through redeeming and reconciling an unworthy people to Himself. You and I faithfully live out the mission of God by being messengers of reconciliation (disciple makers) to the world around us (2 Cor. 5:16).
If we aren’t careful, we will be lulled into a self-absorbed view of Christianity where the gospel of Christ terminates on us. This isn’t the full picture of biblical discipleship. A community where the gospel doesn’t flow out is stagnant and ineffective. Accountability, care and a sense of belonging are crucial to sanctification, but where that focus doesn’t turn beyond the walls of our homes and office cubicles, it creates a vacuum of life rather than a source of life.
This year we are making some strategic changes in the life of our church to address this challenge and to better shepherd our people toward faithfulness in making disciples. Our hope is to see the gospel flow in and out of our groups. Thus, one of the key ways we are striving to achieve this is by moving our Missions department into Home Groups, placing a new emphasis on mission in community life. This move means that our groups will be responsible for driving all the aspects of gospel-centered multiplication – community outreach, evangelism, trips and missionary care.
Over the year we will roll out teaching, resources and communication pieces on how this shift will affect the life of our church and how gospel-centered multiplication will play out in our groups. The driving motivation behind everything is to see our church, like the Cambridge Seven, catch fire for the mission of God in making disciples here and abroad to the glory of God.