Kyla Ward
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For the past century in North American church culture, there has been at play a “define and gather” approach to church life and growth. The primary strategy for growing the church has been to train leaders up to clearly communicate the gospel and to invite folks to gather to hear the gospel clearly communicated. If there happened to be a particularly evangelistic vein at work in the life of a church, a third part of the growth strategy involved encouraging those who were gathered to bring others to gather with them.

If “define and gather” were the watchwords for the Israelite era, then “load and go” is the model for the Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered movement of church.

In the latter part of the 20th century, this inviting others to gather became increasingly difficult, as many other activities began to compete for people's leisure time, and the church no longer held the corner for being the social center of townships. This resulted in a fourth strategic element being employed. Churches tried to create services marked with musical excellence, dynamic preaching, awesome children's programming, and simply put, bigger, better “wow factors.” It was called “Attractional Church” because it was hoping to do just that – attract folks to come and hear the clearly defined message among the other gathered followers.

If this model sounds familiar, it should. It is still the primary model of church at play in North America and it absolutely is the model having had the greatest influence on Victoria Alliance's culture around growth. Interestingly, it has a lot of similarities to the faith community gathered as Jesus taught near Capernaum (see Mark 4: 1-34). Define and gather. This is all the Jewish community had ever known. Jesus was introducing something new.

If “define and gather” were the watchwords for the Israelite era, then “load and go” is the model for the Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered movement of church.

The farmer went out to sow his seed” (Mark 4:3). This verse is clear if not explicit. To sow, you load up your seed. You fill your pockets. You prepare your bags. You pack on your body the only thing necessary for the task – seed. The life-source growing in your field that has produced an abundance of tiny vessels packed full of life-giving potential – wonderful seed.

To sow, you go out. The farmer went out. There is a directional shift in the Kingdom way that Jesus is announcing. Define and gather is the old. Load and go is the new. Orient yourselves from inward to outward. Shift your approach from attractional to missional. Alter your goal from fence-building to Kingdom-planting.

Load and go!

We are not to let our strategy for the Kingdom growth hinge only on inviting our friends to church. You are loaded with seed that is meant to be scattered. This effort is not limited to inviting your friends to church – the missional will be inviting friends to consider Jesus. You know your friends. And you're already with them. Why would we let the goal of gathering people together under one roof trump the work of sharing the life-giving seed that is found in Jesus?

Notice, too, that the sower is never criticized for the lack of discernment used in spreading seeds on all kinds of soil. Instead, you get the sense that the true failure would be to return with seeds still in your pockets.

Please engage with the events we create in our programming that make setting foot on the church property easier for someone who is in your life. Still, with even greater abandon and almost frivolity, invite the people you are connected with to consider Jesus. It is never easier than it is during the Christmas season. You've got seeds. Scatter them far and wide. Load and go.

This is an excerpt from Pastor Kyla's recent sermon.  Listen to the full message here.