The new convention strategy titled, “Impacting Lostness Through Disciple-making” calls attention to the urgent need to evangelize and disciple the 5.8 million lost people living in our state. And it gives attention to assisting churches in developing a disciple-making culture within a congregation.
Through church strengthening and church planting efforts, the strategy seeks to help churches develop an Acts 1:8 missions strategy for engaging the lost locally, across our state, and around the world. The strategy also challenges all churches of the convention to engage lost people in our state in every ethnic and cultural context.
While these aspects of the strategy have been warmly embraced by church and associational leaders, there is a portion of the strategy that needs additional explanation.
The portion of the strategy in question relates to the areas of the state outside the eight population centers of concentrated lostness across North Carolina.
In an earlier article titled, “Why Eight Population Centers?” Michael Sowers explained the necessity for focusing on these areas. But some have raised a very important question: What about the rest of North Carolina?
This is a valid question.
Does the new strategy mean that current efforts to strengthen existing churches and plant new churches outside of these eight population centers will cease?
Convention staff will continue to serve congregations across the state to help them become healthy disciple-making churches.
Convention staff will continue to assist associations in their efforts to strengthen churches. Convention staff will also continue to work with congregations, associations and approved networks to plant congregations across the entire state.
The needs for strengthening congregations and planting congregations are just as important outside of the population centers as within the population centers. We recognize that concentrations of lost people within the population centers are larger, but the value of a lost soul in the rural areas of the state is the same value as those lost souls in the urban areas of our state.
To be true to the heart of this strategy, convention staff must continue to engage congregations across the entirety of the state. We must give our best efforts to every congregation we serve.
But it is not enough simply to maintain current efforts of service to churches; for the strategy calls upon convention staff to help churches across the entire state develop what we refer to as a disciple-making culture.
The strategy calls upon all churches to develop a culture within their congregation that not only professes a belief in disciple-making, but effectively makes disciples, who in turn make more disciples.
It is in this way that churches outside of the population centers of the state may then become the missionary-sending entities that can engage pockets of lostness in both rural and urban areas of the state.
The strategy provides a framework for the population centers that requires a convention strategist to work with local church and association leadership to form a local strategy team that then develops strategies for impacting lostness in the population center. This same framework may also effectively serve areas outside of these eight population centers.
Convention staff desires to assist church and association leaders in rural areas with developing strategy teams that impact lostness in their local communities. We also desire to assist these strategy teams in engaging the eight population centers as a mission field.
But we must not stop there; rural churches are strategic partners in reaching North America and the nations of the world.
Your convention staff stands ready to assist local strategy teams in engaging lostness in each of these mission fields. In so doing, the churches and associations of our state will be making great strides in fulfilling Acts 1:8.
The role of churches and associations outside of the eight population centers is strategic indeed.
Without effective disciple-making efforts from churches in rural areas, coupled with strategic missionary efforts from these same churches to engage lost people groups in the urban areas, the ability to truly impact lostness and reach the 5.8 million lost people in our state is limited.
However, working together across North Carolina, we have the potential of not only fulfilling this strategy, but fulfilling our vision of, “becoming the strongest force in the history of this convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – For more information contact Brian Davis, associate executive director-treasurer; Russ Conley, team leader of the strategic focus team; and Lester Evans, team leader of the associational partnership office. You can reach them at 800- 395-5102.)