Every Member on Mission through Churches Everywhere

by Mike Constantz

 EVERY MEMBER ON MISSION! Every member on mission!” These words by Pastor Rick Warren captured the hearts of three thousand Saddleback Church members attending the first offering of the famous first Class 401 in 1999. That day and event began a new era of church-to-church missions that would transform not only Saddleback, but countless other churches around the world. Saddleback would ultimately commission hundreds of career missionaries and church workers, plant thousands of churches, and send out over 23,800 of its congregation on PEACE plan missions to 197 nations.

 EVERY MEMBER ON MISSION! Every member on mission!” These words by Pastor Rick Warren captured the hearts of three thousand Saddleback Church members attending the first offering of the famous first Class 401 in 1999. That day and event began a new era of church-to-church missions that would transform not only Saddleback, but countless other churches around the world. Saddleback would ultimately commission hundreds of career missionaries and church workers, plant thousands of churches, and send out over 23,800 of its congregation on PEACE plan missions to 197 nations.

Since planting the church Pastor Rick has been systematically preparing a Great Commission army through messages, small groups, campaigns, and a process of purpose-driven orientation courses called Class 101: Discovering Membership; Class 201: Discovering Spiritual Maturity;  Class 301: Discovering My Ministry; and Class 401: Discovering My Mission.  

While Pastor Rick was growing a local church, preparing his members for international service and training hundreds of thousands of pastors around the world, I was living and ministering overseas and training full-time workers in over 150 countries through Campus Crusade for Christ.

God had redirected my life toward the end of my college years in Bill Bright’s living room and the Great Commission consumed me. I breathed, bled, and battled for “the fulfillment of the Great Commission in our generation.” At the time, there were vast regions of the world with no church. Although I was sent as a medical missionary, our team was asked to stop our medical work in our second year to begin showing a film about Jesus. 

With a bad attitude and a 16mm film projector, I headed to a nearby village to show the film, becoming the first team to use the JESUS Film outside the U.S. We discovered that a church could be started in one day. My life and ministry was transformed. And the JESUS Film… well, the rest is history.

Then came Church Planting Movements, which blew the roof off of what we had considered to be accelerated church planting. Learnings from Roland Allen’s Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and his earlier Missionary Methods: St Paul’s or Ours? led Bill Smith and Curtis Sergeant to this new mission strategy. In just a few decades, the wide chasm of churched and unchurched regions was closed. Smaller unreached, unengaged people groups (UUPGs) still remained, but the local church was spreading as the waters cover the sea. 

As mission strategists watched what God was doing in these movements around the world, it was obvious that local churches have the greatest distribution possibility on the planet. If church members truly grasped the fact that all believers are called by God to obey the Great Commission, and then these believers were intentionally activated and equipped for missions in their local congregations, the possibility for exponential growth was astounding.

While Saddleback staff had been planting churches and training pastors from its start in 1980, 1999 was the year we launched the strategy to mobilize every member to “make disciples in every nation.” Four years later, while training pastors in Africa, God convicted Pastor Rick that the world’s most crippling problems—extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, illiteracy and lack of education, corrupt leadership, and spiritual lostness—can only be resolved by the Church, specifically local congregations.

He created a simple, holistic strategy, combining the Great Commandment to care with the Great Commission to share. It would be based on Jesus’ instructions to the teams he sent on mission (Luke 10, Matt. 10), specifically “find and start with the Man of Peace” (Luke 10:5-6), so Pastor Rick named it The PEACE Plan, and created an acrostic:

Plant churches that promote reconciliation
Equip servant leaders
Assist the poor
Care for the sick
Educate the next generation

What is PEACE? 

The PEACE Plan is: Ordinary people empowered by God making a difference together wherever they are. It is:

1. Three-dimensional: Personal peace is your mission to your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Local peace is your mission to your city and area. Global peace is your mission to serve and train a church overseas to do their own local peace plan. The Acts 1:8 commission is simultaneous “and… and…and,” not sequential. All churches must have both a local and a global vision.

2. Church to church: Members are sent to serve and equip indigenous churches who then serve their communities. When there is no local church in a community, we find a “near-neighbor” church that shares a common connection (ethnically, linguistically, culturally) and help them plant a church.

3. Local church-initiated: Starts with a foundation of prayer and finding a person of peace wherever you go.

4. A training commission: We “teach them to do…” We do not do it for them or in place of them. We do not create dependency.

5. SSR: Sustainable, scalable, reproducible. The simplest strategy is the strongest. Complexity quickly breaks down. We want “fruit that remains.”

6. “Don’t take a purse”: We don’t build or buy things. The resources are in the harvest.

7. Pastor-directed, member-led: PEACE is a model for the ninety-nine percent of churches that don’t have mission staff. Every size church can do PEACE.

8. Local: Locally-initiated, locally-owned, locally-led.  

9. Long-term results: We do not do short-term missions. We do short-term trips to train for long-term results, and we establish long-term relationships with indigenous local churches where their members do the long-term mission work. We measure outcomes, not outputs.

10. Holistic: PEACE addresses the spirit (spiritual lostness), the body (poverty, disease, hunger), and the mind (illiteracy and education).

11. Cooperative: Indigenous local churches unite around community projects. Together they decide which local government agencies, organizations, and businesses to involve in their local community partnerships.

12. The final frontier: To the ends of the earth: The ultimate goal of the PEACE plan is to mobilize local churches to take the gospel to the remaining UUPGs—those people groups with “no believer, no Bible, and no Body of Christ.” This has been Pastor Rick’s ultimate objective since planting Saddleback.

How We Mobilize for PEACE 

Our mobilization process moves members from awareness (where you become aware of your Great Commission responsibility and the needs of the world around you), to awakened (where your heart becomes emotionally engaged, based on your personal mission SHAPE [see below]), to activated (where you are now active in a long-term PEACE mission that matches your SHAPE), to becoming an advocate (where you mobilize others for PEACE and lead teams in the field, either locally or globally).

“SHAPE” is Pastor Rick’s acrostic for the five ways God has shaped you for your personal ministry in the church and mission in the world:  

•  Spiritual gifts
•  Heart passions
•  Abilities
•  Personality
•  Experiences

A National Model Needed

When we launched PEACE we decided that, while having a goal of sending PEACE teams to every nation by the end of 2010 (which we did), we also wanted to find a small nation where we could plant deep roots and demonstrate the “proof of concept” using volunteers and bi-vocational pastors. If PEACE could be proven successful in a nation with limited money and education, we figured it could be launched anywhere.  

As we considered a half dozen small nations, Pastor Rick received a letter from the President of Rwanda saying that he had read The Purpose Driven Life and he invited Saddleback to help rebuild a nation on purpose, while it was still reeling from the 1994 genocide that wiped out a million Rwandans and much of the nation’s leadership.   

After much prayer, and three trips to observe and listen to the concerns of Rwandan church leaders, Saddleback formed a partnership to make Rwanda our first national model of the PEACE plan. In the past ten years, 1,300 Saddleback members have served in Rwanda as trainers and 3,043 churches have completed a three-year Purpose Driven training course on church health.

An indigenous Purpose Driven steering council representing over 250 denominations (essentially every denomination) leads the PEACE plan efforts in Rwanda. They make all the decisions on the plan and implementation.

The first step was to discern what parts of the PEACE plan were needed most in the churches of each province. An Inter-Church Council (ICC), led by pastors in the Western Province, determined that the greatest need in the Karongi district was health care due to the lack of doctors. So PEACE teams trained over 400 volunteer Community PEACE Trainers (CPTs) working in their 195 churches. These CPTs then trained 3,452 volunteer Community PEACE Servants (CPSs) who provide basic health care to the villages. Each CPS was given a caseload of seven homes with each home averaging five members, which totaled about 146,000 men, women, and children receiving regular health care through this very successful pilot.

This project raised both the visibility and the credibility of the local churches not only in the eyes of their communities, but also in the estimation of the national government who were grateful for their contributions. At the graduation of pastors completing three years of training, President Paul Kagame stated, “We realized that our nation could recover and develop faster by engaging local churches as partners at the grassroots level.”

Through collaborating as local churches and involving government agencies and local organizations, a powerfully effective and fruitful strategy emerged. Pastor Rick calls this the three-legged stool. The Rwandan churches began mobilizing their members as volunteers to learn and lead the following. 

PEACE Works in Rwanda 

• HIV and AIDS and healthcare. Kay Warren launched this first PEACE Initiative at Saddleback in 2003 to call the Global Church into action to help stop this pandemic disease and care for the people living with the virus. See sidebar on HIV & AIDS Initiative on page 495. 

•  Orphan care (“getting to zero” orphans in orphanages). A church-initiated initiative with government partnership helping every child remain in families instead of orphanages and emptying orphanages by reuniting with family or regaining permanent family of their own. See sidebar on Orphan Care on page 496.

•  Economic development for the extreme poor—living on less than $1.25/day. Savings Groups to primarily help women without external financial assistance to not only climb out of poverty but also find a voice and dignity in their own communities. 

•  Clean water (wells, rain catchment, filtration, hygiene training)

•  Preschools (church-based), providing children and families at risk with enrichment and an opportunity for early education support.

•  Ending human trafficking to help eliminate modern-day slavery through church interventions that prevent and restore freedom and Image-bearer dignity.

•  Celebrate recovery, a 12-step recovery program based on the beatitudes of Jesus healing hurts, habits, and hangups. 

Everything has a spiritual growth pathway through local churches. All of these are integrated through the local churches to care about the whole person (body, soul, spirit) and the whole family for their whole lifetime

PEACE is now spreading throughout Rwanda and has become a model for additional countries.  The Rwandan church leaders themselves are focused on exporting PEACE to Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and the DRC. And they are assisting other U.S. churches that desire to implement these learnings and take on more countries.

It is our conviction that for a local church to get involved in mission, it must think about partnership with other local churches. Our heart has been to inspire, even incite, churches to get in the game, not just in Rwanda, but also with churches across North America. 

 Church Planting in Urban Centers as Hubs 

Meanwhile, Saddleback has recognized the need to create effective mission models in influential cities around the world. In 2011, Pastor Rick announced a plan to plant Saddleback churches in strategic urban centers in twelve regions of the world. In 2013, Saddleback churches were planted in Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Hong Kong. Manila will be planted in 2014 and Moscow shortly thereafter.  

These strategic urban hubs are for equipping other churches in their own countries and their surrounding regions, as well as to be used as base camps for mobilizing churches to help reach the final UUPGs. This initiative helped overcome another weakness in our global plan: we had a focus on Rwanda as a working model in the Developing World. Now we’ve added a strong focus in the developed, urban world, where the greatest concentrations of future next generation influencers reside.

A Global Rising Tide

Globally, we know that the Body of Christ is called to care for about five billion people living in spiritual darkness, over one billion having little access to the good news, 163 million orphans, 34 million living with HIV & AIDS, 29 million living in modern-day slavery, and untold millions of widows. Who better than these indigenous church members, who are in every country, to do the work? They do it as “amateurs”… for the love of it. Along with their phenomenally broad base of gifts, talents, and experiences, they are willing to be equipped to maximize their effectiveness and fruitfulness.

This is a rising tide on a global scale: local churches mobilizing and equipping their members to live on mission. The most exciting days are ahead. It’s a mustard seed planted and quietly growing—like yeast quietly spreading and seeping into everything, including restricted peoples and places.

Jesus calls his people to sacrificially serve the widows, orphans, aliens, poor, starving, homeless, persecuted, oppressed, repressed, terrorized, tyrannized, crushed, enslaved, exploited, helpless, hopeless, voiceless, marginalized, victimized, beaten up, beaten down, down & out, shut in, shut out, shut up, burned out, outcast, brain damaged, mentally ill, incurably ill, disabled, pregnant at the wrong time, unemployed, underemployed, unemployable, swindled, shoved aside, left aside, replaced, emotionally starved, emotionally scarred, emotionally dead, and the otherwise forgotten. 

His people must show up with unrelenting, unselfish, uncompromising compassion and justice.  

His people are the only hope for the vast majority of these downtrodden masses.

A proven biblical mission model is called for that cares about the one and cares about the whole. Every member on mission through churches everywhere… it sounds like something God had planned from the beginning.

. . . . .

Two Examples of PEACE Initiatives: HIV & AIDS and Orphan Care

HIV & AIDS Initiative

The HIV & AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church inspires and equips churches around the world to care for those infected and affected by HIV & AIDS, both locally and globally. Through the CHURCH strategy, local churches are encouraged to take a leading role in ending AIDs by engaging in prevention, treatment, care, and support.

Care for and support the sick. Churches are commanded by God to care about the sick. It is our calling. It doesn’t require money or special training to love. Local congregations are the only caring organizations found in almost every community around the world.

Handle HIV testing and counseling. Everyone should know their HIV status and be tested at least once in their lifetime. Those at higher risk should be tested more frequently. There are two reasons to know your HIV status: if you’re negative, stay negative; if you’re positive, you can access care and treatment and avoid transmitting the virus to others.

Unleash a volunteer labor force. There will never be enough healthcare professionals in the world to teach prevention, administer treatment, and offer care to those who need it. Churches have the largest volunteer labor force on the planet—more than two billion members. What an impact we can make if this enormous untapped pool of talent, energy, and compassion can be mobilized to support those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

Remove the stigma. Churches must embrace people who are HIV positive by replacing rejection and alienation with mercy and acceptance. It is not a sin to be sick. Instead of asking, “How did you become infected?” we should ask, “How can we help you?”

Champion healthy behavior. HIV and AIDS are complex, yet largely preventable. Churches have the moral authority to promote healthy sexual behavior and to offer the spiritual motivation for abstinence, fidelity, and drug-free living. Many churches offer Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-step program, to those struggling with co-dependency, alcohol, drug, and sexual addiction. Churches can offer a holistic approach that encompasses all aspects of HIV prevention and addiction recovery.

Help with HIV medications. While it is unexpected to visualize a role for local churches in helping with HIV treatment, the church can be an integral part of helping HIV-positive individuals live longer. HIV treatment offers hope for a normal lifespan, but requires specialized pre-treatment preparation and ongoing treatment support that the faith community can provide.

Orphan Care Initiative

Through the ORPHAN strategy local churches are encouraged to lead the way in caring for orphans and vulnerable children by offering hope, healing, and permanency.

Open your eyes to God’s heart for the orphan. Caring for orphans is a reflection of what God has done for us. We were vulnerable and helpless and he cared for us in our distress. By providing for orphans physically, we can reflect what God has done for us spiritually in Christ. Helping orphans is something that every believer can do.

Rely on the family as God’s hope for the orphan. Children belong in families. Work toward solutions which allow children to grow in safe, stable, nurturing, permanent, legal, and loving families—not group homes or institutions. Promote reconciliation, adoption, and permanency as God’s idea for the growth, health, and healing of a child. Provide care that focuses on family preservation, having children remain in families, reunification with family or kin, or the ability to regain a new family of their own through adoption.

Prevent children from becoming orphaned. Prevent orphans by strengthening the family. Prevent orphans by caring for those living with HIV. Offer care and treatment for mothers, fathers, and children living with HIV. Give voice to the voiceless. Focus on sustainable and income-generating activities, including savings groups and Celebrate Recovery for family health

Help children gain access to care. Basic health care is essential. Immunizations and health promotion can be done through the church to help children survive and thrive. Education regarding nutrition, child development, and attachment are core principles for every family. Birth registration is a simple start to help children thrive.

Affirm the church as God’s provision for the orphan. Strengthen the capacity of the local church to care for and protect orphans. Launch orphan care ministries in your church. Create ways for every person to engage in orphan care or adoption. 

Nurture the unique needs of every orphan. Every child needs a secure and permanent connection to a church and a family. Commit to providing permanent solutions that care for the lifelong needs of each child.

….

Mike Constantz has been pastor of global mobilization & initiatives at Saddleback Church since 2004. He served in the Philippines as a medical missionary and then as the Sri Lanka country director for Cru. Mike then worked as the global community director for the JESUS Film project, overseeing the short-term sending to unreached peoples. Mike is married to Cathy and their daughter, Tali, is serving in Sri Lanka.

EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 490-496. Copyright  © 2014 Billy Graham Center.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.

 

 

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