So I have my cake. And I’m gonna eat it too. I have a great big ol’ piece of chocolate cake, in my possession, right here, right now, and I’m going to eat it. Try and stop me. It will be down the hatch in no time flat and the only thing left, I’ll be licking of my smiling lips. Who said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too?”
NPL is taking this approach. We are a Both/And (and More) kind of crew. We are going after those who don’t know Jesus and those who do. We share the gospel with lost people and train the saved to go after the lost. I’ll train people to make disciples who have been churching in a building that’s a hundred years old and I’ll train disciples who are churching in Starbucks. I don’t care. I’ll train your dog if it looks at me sideways! It’s important to share the gospel and raise up brand new disciples but it’s just as important to the movement to mobilize existing believers to share the gospel. It’s a two-pronged attack on lostness; 1) Share the Gospel 2) Train Believers to Share the Gospel. This is how we multiply our efforts.
Now I’ve heard people take sides on this and it boggles my mind. One side says; “All you guys do is train believers.” The other side says; “All you guys do is share the gospel.”
Have you ever noticed how we tend to pit things (good things) against each other? I’ve done it, we’ve all done it (well, uh, except you, you’ve never done this). Let me give you a great example of a bad example. When I first started down the movements road I was all about “obedience-based” discipleship. We ought to be about “obedience-based” discipleship not “knowledge-based” discipleship. Obedience good. Knowledge bad. Until I read a scathing article from one of our critics. His premise was very simple; “Since when is knowledge a bad thing?” OUCH! I was rebuked! He’s right, knowledge is not a bad thing. In fact, it is essential. So it’s both obedience and knowledge. Can you see how I got into trouble there?
I call this “reactionary theology” and this can lead to “pendulum theology” which usually leads to “bad theology.” We react and swing all the way over to one side or the other. We start pitting one truth or method against another. And, let’s be honest, in our culture today, people love a good argument and it plays right into Satan’s sticky little trap. Nope, we are a both/and movement.
I once asked Steve Smith a question; “Of the 200 movements of the gospel in the world (now there are over a 1000), how many are being led by people who were won to Christ in the movement? His reply, “2.” That means 99% of the movement leaders were existing believers and came from outside the movement. Training existing believers is a huge part of almost every movement in the world. But make no mistake about it, it’s all about reaching lost people.
What Jeff and Angie Sundell did when they returned from Nepal is nothing short of genius. The Holy Spirit challenged them to do what they had been doing among the unreached in Nepal and India. So they started sharing their story and God’s story in Bugger Hollow, NC. People started coming to Christ. They also started training believers to share their story and God’s story and even more people came to Christ. And of course, these new baby believers needed to be discipled and gather together in church so they trained everyone to do that too. New leaders started to emerge and they trained them. They were getting so much traction in Bugger Hollow, churches around the United States started asking for training to reach the lost people in their communities. And now thousands of people in American are sharing the gospel, making disciples, planting new churches and reproducing new leaders. Eight years later over almost a hundred missionaries were sent to other countries. The NPL movement was born. And you know how? Through a both/and mentality.
Jesus was a both/and kind of guy. He looked for followers by the sea, in the synagogue, a long the road, in the temple, and even in a cemetery. His primary target was the “lost sheep of Israel” but if you showed any kind of faith at all, He was on you like a duck on a Junebug. You could be a lost loose lady, a dog lady, or even a devil dude. (Jn 4, Mt 15:21-28, Mk 5.1-20) You could be an army officer, a lawyer, or even a seminary professor. (Mt 5.8-13, Lk 10.25, Jn 3) He was wuppin’ the kingdom on anyone and everyone who would listen. And let’s face it, finding fourth soil people is so hard. We better be engaging everybody everywhere. It’s going to take a both/and approach to engage the lost and get the saved engaged.
So you have my permission; have your cake and eat it too.
Do you have a both/and mentality? Are you sharing the gospel on a regular basis? Are you casting vision to other believers to join in the Great Commission? Are you training existing believers to share the gospel? Is sharing the gospel a key part of your short-term discipleship? Can you see the value in celebrating differences in ministry?
SIX CORE PRINCIPLES