Here’s the story of the first ten years of The Crowded House. (Actually this is already out of date as we’ve made some changes in The Edge Network. It also does not include TCH networks outside of the UK.)
Do you think this was the plan back in 2000 when we began? Do you think this was how we anticipated events unfolding when we started? Do you think I have an old piece of paper dated August 2000 with all these details sketched out? Of course not! We hoped congregations might grow and multiply; we I guess expected some congregations would not work out. But we didn’t have a detailed plan to which we worked. None of us could have dreamed things would turn out quite like this.
Mission is not straight-forward. It’s not predictable. It’s messy. It’s not susceptible to charts and diagrams. Opportunities open up that we didn’t anticipate, sometimes that we didn’t even look for. There are set-backs, disappointments, reversals. Mission can’t be planned beyond the next step.
Mission can’t be planned beyond the next step because people are unpredictable. We don’t know who will respond or how. In many industries you can match inputs and outputs. But in Christian ministry there’s never a neat correlation between inputs and outputs. You can’t say, ‘If I do these Bible studies with these people then I can guarantee that this is what they’ll be like at the end.’ Mission can’t be planned beyond the next step because people are unpredictable.
And mission can’t be planned beyond the next step because God is sovereign. It’s God who opens hearts to the gospel. We can’t know or predict ahead of time who will become Christians. It’s God’s work to grant faith and repentance. And often he surprise us.
God is sovereign in mission. Through the Holy Spirit he is always going on ahead of us – creating new opportunities, closing down ministries, putting people in our path, hardening hearts, softening hearts.
God is the great Mission Director. He is the great mission strategist.
In future posts I’m going to look at how this recgonition that God (and not us) is the great mission strategist plays out in the book of Acts before drawing some conclusions from it.