We Give Ourselves Away

We Give Ourselves Away

We give ourselves away.  It’s such a simple concept, but so very counterintuitive for many people who have spent their whole lives using an “outreach” model of mission. If mission is to multiply, then at every mission site, we have to replace every person who is working there with another person so that we can take what is being done at that mission location and transplant it again at another location. And we have to replace them with people who were once the object of that mission who have come to know that the same will be asked of them.  It seems so simple, but it is actually much harder than it looks.

The first thing that makes it hard is that we plant missions with people who are passionate about what they are doing.  They love what they do. They have been prepared their whole lives to do this. They have the crucial DNA within them that makes the mission multiply in the location where it is planted.  They know almost instinctively that they are to invite the served to come and serve.  They know instinctively to look for laborers, not from the pews of churches, but from the street corners and alley ways of the mission field itself.  The mission grows where it is planted precisely because of the commitment, gifts and disciplines of the people who plant it. The people we plant with are builders.  They practice the art of missional living, crafting not simply a mission site, but a missional community.  They pour their time, talent, and treasure into it.

But, to make the mission multiply these leaders also have to be constantly looking for their own replacement.  They are not working their way into a job, but rather are working their way out of a job from the day that the job starts.  They have to be willing to give the work of art that God has built through their efforts away to often very untested leaders who have come out of the mission field itself.  They know going in that they will one day have to place what they have loved and labored over into the hands of other people. And they have to instill that same seemingly self-destructive DNA – that ethic and discipline of giving what we love away – into the people they give the mission away to.  They have so much of themselves wrapped up in the mission that when they say, “We give ourselves away” they actually mean it.  And if they do not do this, then the mission will become sterile and will never multiply to another location.  Doing that requires a kind of spiritual maturity that is rare.  Our planters have to know they are already dead, or they will run the risk of serving their own desires, rather than allowing what has given them life and joy to give life and joy to someone else.  If it gives us joy and new life, then it can do that for someone else who is desperate for it, too.  And letting the mission give life to others is what the mission is all about. That is no easy thing.  And it is no easy thing to find people that God has prepared to do that.

The even harder part is transferring DNA from a planter to new leaders.  How much do they have to know in order to replicate what has been replicated and given over to them? Since spiritual maturity is required and many of the people who will potentially take the mission over have only recently left chaos barking at their heels, how is that transferred? Is it even something that is transferrable?  How do you know when it’s time to multiply, when someone is ready to take your place?  What’s the best way to transfer DNA?  There are so many questions, and so few really hard and fast answers.  That’s the reality.

What we have found is that the only way to find these answers is to get into the mission and start trying things.  Some of them will work, and some won’t.  What we know today after doing this for twelve years is that it takes a combination of things ranging from intentional and deep Bible study, to formal classes on our method, to mentoring.  And we know for sure that it takes intentional and focused prayer. We had to get in the mission and risk failures…and actually have some spectacular failures…in order to get at least a grip on the formula for transferring DNA as quickly as possible and multiplying the mission as quickly as possible.  It’s not like we “make it happen”.  After many years we have come to believe that we don’t.  But it does happen.  And it happens in observable ways.  What we have done is to pay attention when it happens and then we try to learn the process that it happened in.  We then try to create the environment where it happened, and time and again we have seen it happen time and again.

We give ourselves away.  If we do not, then what we plant will last but a season, and then it will be gone.  We are not simply trying to make disciples.  We are trying to make disciples who make disciples.

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