The fourth and final book that I read during my time in Russia was one co-written by Reggie Joiner, Chuck Bomar, and Abbie Smith titled, “The Slow Fade: Why You Matter in the Story of Twentysomethings.” The authors propose, “The strategy is simple: Recruit a new breed of mentors to invest time in those who are college-aged” (138).
The Apostle Paul writes, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:24-29, ESV).
This is what encompasses a missional movement. One church never thinking of just one church. Paul was constantly moving. He was always mentoring somebody. He was always planting a new work somewhere. Churches birthing churches. Leaders developing leaders. Accomplishing the same thing in several different ways. They did not wait for the people to come to them – they went where the people were. It was never about one leader or one body. It was about the gospel.
I have to admit, one of my favorite aspects of being in youth ministry the last nine years has been to facilitate internships. I have seen several of those interns become ministry leaders in various local churches. Just today, I had the opportunity on my vacation to visit a local church and see my brother, a former intern, share the message with his local congregation. I also checked my two youngest children in at the pre-school age classrooms with a friend (and former intern), Angie Brazier. This is what discipleship is all about – modeling, mentoring, and mobilizing. My prayer for all of the interns I have had the privilege of partnering with (as well as my own children) is that they do exceedingly more than I will ever do in my life. My hope is that as a lead pastor, my church will be sending and supporting missionaries that we helped develop.
But why stop with youth ministry? I read recently that over 90 percent of churches who do not launch a venue, campus, or church plant in their first two years of existence, will never multiply. What a tragedy. A church that stops investing in something bigger than themselves stops investing in anything altogether. This is one more reason, if I was to ever plant a church, that I would already be thinking about another site within two years and two additional sites within the first five years. This would take next wave leadership – understanding that I am to raise up new leaders to take on new works nearby.
Joiner writes, “Remember, passion is attractive, passion is catalytic, and passion drives us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – namely, relationships” 334).