Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Decentralization and empowerment are keys to growth

The book of Acts tells us that "those [Christiasns] who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went" (Acts 8:4). As the church faced persecution, it was forced to decentralize. And Luke, the author of Acts, cites this as a major source of growth in the church.

Acts 2:42-47 paints a nice cozy picture of the early church fellowshipping and studying together, pooling resources and the like. However, this was a temporary situation, as the Jews were gathered together in Jerusalem for Pentecost.

We should equip people to reach out and share their faith. However, too often we try to control this process. No one was standing over these early Christians as they shared their faith, and they did not have to get "approval" to do so.

The need for control and approving every decision by church leaders cripples churches' outreach, particularly as a church grows larger. One of the best things we have done with our life groups at Liberty is to hold out the goal of each group having a monthly outreach/service to the community, but giving them free reign in how this is done. If every group had to get approval for these things, they would never happen. And no one sitting in an office can possibly be informed enough to make these decisions for every group. Decentralization--which was evident in the early church--must happen if a church is to experience explosive growth.

One of our life groups that meets in Kearney decided to fill 5o back packs with school supplies. We were doing this in Liberty, but they wanted to provide for kids in their own schools. Because it was local and they were invested in their community, they did far more. And they came up with this idea on their own. That is exactly the kind of inititative that is needed to reach a whole community.

Train and equip leaders. Hold them accountable through relationships (not reports). But give them free reign to reach out to the world.