Multiply Exponentially - Part 2 - Radical

Multiply Exponentially – Part 2

Church can often become a commodified space in today’s day and age. There may be an emphasis on filling all the pews in the church just for the image of the church to grow. In this message on Acts 2:37, Pastor David Platt calls the church to trust in God to see the church grow as God wills. He highlights five key aspects of a church growth that is focused on God’s plans and focuses on the last point in this second part.

  1. Unifying and Expanding
  2. Quantitative Growth and Qualitative Growth
  3. Worshipping and Witnessing
  4. Gathered and Scattered
  5. Local and Global

We’ve got a God who desires to demonstrate love to all of us in this room. His people, able to demonstrate that love, and He’s got a plan to demonstrate that love to the entire world. The question I want us to ask this morning is: How is this church doing with His plan?

If you’ve got a Bible, and I hope you do, I want to invite you to open to Acts 1 and 2. We have talked about how Jesus was adding to their number daily those who were being saved, as they were unifying and expanding, growing quantitatively and qualitatively, worshipping and witnessing, gathered and scattered. We’re going to come to the last characteristic of the way the Church grew—how Jesus grew the Church.

If I could be completely honest with you, I’m convinced this last characteristic is one of the most important, if not the most important, and the one that’s going to stretch us more than any of the others. It’s the one where I believe, in the church today, we have completely missed the boat.

We’re going to dive into some fairly heavy stuff today so be prepared. We saw how they put these different things together that we most often separate: unifying/expanding, worshipping/witnessing, gathering/scattering. The one I want us to look at all day today is how they put local and global together.

A Different Kind of Church Growth …

Acts 2:37 Teaches Us about Local and Global Church Growth

Local and global. We have this two-volume work, Luke-Acts, written by one author, Luke. In the very beginning of the book of Luke, he gives the picture of Jesus in the Temple, and Jesus in the synagogue. It’s a very Jewish picture. It’s the same place where Acts 1 begins. Its a very Jewish picture, as the disciples are gathered together in Jerusalem.

The interesting thing, though, is when you get to the end of the book of Acts, Acts 28, you’ve got a completely different picture. It’s transformed from this Jewish picture to a Gentile picture, where Paul is in pagan Rome, the farthest thing that could be from Judaism, and he’s there proclaiming the gospel. There’s a transition in Luke and Acts that shows us how the early Church put local and global together.

Now, remember what we’re doing here. We’re taking a step back, and taking a bird’s eye view of this picture of the early Church. For the last three months, we’ve studied what made the early Church different. Now let’s see, over all, what is Christ doing here? What is he telling us that we may have missed out on in the way we do church? They put local and global together.

Look at Acts 1:8. This is a verse that I know will be very familiar to some of you. We’ve read it a few different times in this series. I want you to circle this one word that’s mentioned three times, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). This is Jesus speaking to his disciples. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). One word I want you to circle three times in the very end there. It says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem.” What’s the next word? “And.” Circle it. “And in all Judea.” What’s the next word? “And.” “Judea and Samaria.” One more time: “And to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2:37 teaches us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth

Ladies and gentlemen, we have taken what is a “both/and” in Acts 1:8 and we have relegated it to an “either/or.” We have decided, as a church, that we will choose when and where we will take the gospel—either Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria, or the ends of the earth—and it’s not biblical.

This is an outline for the entire book of Acts. In chapters 1 through 7, the gospel goes throughout Jerusalem, but it’s stuck there at the end of chapter 7. What happens is Stephen is stoned, and Acts 8:1-4 says the gospel was “scattered throughout Judea and Samaria,” fulfilling what had been said here in Acts 1.

In Acts 8, 9, and 10, the gospel goes throughout Judea and Samaria. When Luke gets to the end of chapter 9, he talks about how the gospel was strengthened in churches, and it grew throughout Judea and Samaria. You get to the end of chapter 10:34, and Peter says, “I now realize . . . that God does not show favoritism,” and He desires to show His gospel, His grace, His love, and His mercy to all peoples, regardless of race, regardless of where they are. And that unleashes the early Church in Acts 11-28 to go to the ends of the earth.

Acts 11:19-21 gives us is a picture of the church in Antioch as they began to take the gospel to the Gentiles, to the people who were not like them. When they did that, the Bible says “the Lord’s hand was with them.” God used them throughout the rest of this book, and they take the gospel to the ends of the earth, from Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth—“both/and”. They didn’t separate—“Either we’re going to share the gospel here or there.”

Jesus was serious about the church’s responsibility to affect the entire world with the gospel. I’m convinced we have lost sight of this today. We’ve missed the picture that’s being unfolded here. We’ve distinguished between the two, and I’m convinced it’s one of the main reasons our churches today don’t look like the Church in Acts. I’m also convinced the Church in Acts would not stand for the lack of gospel penetration to the world that’s going on through the churches today.

I don’t know of any church… I’m not saying there’s not one out there, but I don’t know of a church that has a strategy to impact the world with the gospel and is carrying that out.

What I want us to do is to look at two different facets, number one, “a dangerous approach,” and number two, “a dynamic alternative.” The dangerous approach is, I believe, the pit we’ve fallen into. The dynamic alternative is the picture we see in the New Testament Church.

A Dangerous Approach …

We’ll start with the dangerous approach. I want us to think about three phrases that we say very commonly in the Church today. When we say them, I think we show that we lack understanding of the basic truths of Christianity and Scripture. I think ultimately they are just excuses for the fact that we’re not penetrating the world for the gospel.

Phrase number one, “But I’m not called to foreign missions. You talk about the nations all the time, but I’m not called to foreign missions.” Now when we say that, we usually mean one of two things. Either number one, we mean we’re not called to missions as a “program.” And we relegate the Great Commission to an optional program for the few faithful who are really called to that. “That’s their deal.” We take the Great Commission and put it into a program, as opposed to making it the very command that transcends every single one of our lives in this room. We ignore that command.

We look at Matthew 28:19, which says “Make disciples of all nations,” and we say, “That means other people.” When we come to Jesus’ words: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest,” and we say “That means me.” We say, “You’re going to be witnesses to the ends of the earth,” and we say, “That means other people.” Then we see, “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you,” and we say, “That means me.”

What right do we have to draw a line of distinction between the obligations of Christianity and the privileges of Christianity? By what right do we accept the privileges of Christianity as applying to all of us and the obligations applying to only a few, select people?

So first, we think, “Well I’m just not called to missions,” missions as a “program.” The other thing we’re often thinking when we say that is, “Well I’m called to home missions, not to foreign missions. Not everybody’s called to foreign missions.” Ultimately that’s a smokescreen, because the majority of us in this room are not constantly involved in home missions. But even if we are, then we say things like “Well, my heart is for Birmingham,” or “My heart is for the United States.” These phrases sound great, even spiritual we think, until we realize all these phrases do is give away the weakness of our spiritual condition, because God’s heart is for the world.

If God’s heart is for the world, and you have a heart for the United States, that means you have 5% of God’s heart. If your heart is for Birmingham or even Alabama, you have less than 1% of God’s heart. Somewhere along the way, we’ve created the idea that we can say we have 5% of God s heart and actually boast about it. “I have a heart for the United States.” We’ve created this idea that when we say we have such a small percentage of God’s heart, that’s actually indicating a greater spirituality. We’ve missed the boat by saying,

“I’m called to home missions, not foreign missions.”

This idea, at the deepest root, is more than just the fact that we relegated the Great Commission to a program, or we’ve tried to distinguish between “home” and “foreign,” and you choose one or the other. I believe ultimately this statement—“But I’m not called to foreign missions”—reflects an unbiblical understanding of our salvation.

When you come to Acts 9, let’s take Paul, for example. When Paul encounters Christ, and he’s saved from his sins, at that point, immediately he sees that as a call to proclaim the gospel to the nations—to the Gentiles—and that’s exactly what he tells us later.

Turn over in your Bibles to the right. Go to Galatians 1. I want you to see Paul describing his salvation, and I don’t want you to miss it. Paul is describing the very purpose of his salvation.

Why did God save him? Look at what Paul says in Galatians 1:15-16, “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man.” Did you catch that? He said, “God was pleased to reveal His Son in me—to reveal Christ in me—so that”—purpose clause – why was God pleased to reveal His Son in me—“so that I would do”

what? “Preach him, proclaim him, among the Gentiles, among the nations. So Christ is in me so that I might preach him among the nations.” Don’t miss it. Paul is not saying this is relegated to a special call in our lives. He’s saying this is the very purpose of our salvation. Because Christ is in us, it’s automatic that we would give our lives to proclaim that gospel to the entire world.

Turn back to Romans a few pages to the left there. We passed over it. Look at Romans 1, it’s even clearer there. I want you to look at a verse that I would encourage you to underline.

Romans 1: It’s Paul starting the introduction there. Look at verse 14. Paul is about to launch in to an explanation of the gospel, and I want you to see what he says. “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom. 1:14-16).

I want you to notice a word, you might circle it, it says, “I am obligated.” Some of your translations may say, “I am a debtor to both Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.”

What Paul is saying here is that “I owe”—don’t miss this—“I owe a direct debt to every lost person in the world to make this gospel known to them. I am indebted, I am obligated to the world.” Don’t miss it. Because Paul owns Christ, he owes Christ to the world.

What this means is that we, all of us in this room, have a presumptive obligation on our lives. Because we have been saved, we are obligated to proclaim that to the world. It is not a special call. It is the very purpose of our salvation. Every saved person this side of Heaven owes a debt to every lost person this side of Hell.

Let me say that one more time: Every saved person this side of Heaven–every single one of us in this room who has Christ in us, God has been pleased to reveal Christ in us–every single one of us has the debt to every lost person on the face of this earth, this side of Hell. We are obligated to proclaim the gospel to them. We owe a debt to the entire world.

Acts 2:37 Reminds Us of our Obligation

We have missed this. We have intentionally taken ourselves out from under the weight of a lost and dying world, and washed our hands in pious concern, and said, “Isn’t it horrible what’s going on in the rest of the world?” We’ve taken ourselves out from the obligation that we have as believers to make the gospel known to all peoples. We’ve separated local from global, and missed the very purpose of our salvation.

How could any one of us sit here today and say that we have been saved from our sins, and we have the hope of eternal life through the blood of Jesus on a cross, and sit back and make excuses for not sharing that with the rest of the world? Is that biblical? We mask it in a spiritual statement like, “I’m not called to foreign missions.” God, help us not to say that.

The second statement we say, “Wouldn’t it be better for me to give than to go?” I don’t want you to hear me wrong here. I’m not saying that giving is not a part of our mission as followers of Christ. Undoubtedly it is. We’ve talked numerous times about how all of us here will be held accountable for the way we spend our resources. Undoubtedly, giving is a part of this thing.

But I believe this statement, at the core, reflects an unbiblical understanding, not of our salvation, but of the very gospel that we believe in. A few years ago I was preparing to go to the Sudan, it was an expensive trip—$3000-$3500. It costs a lot to fly over there, and then charter a plane to get in to where we need to get into, in addition to supplies and that sort of thing. I remember a lady came up to me who said, “David, why don’t you just send the money to them instead of going? Wouldn’t it be better off for them to have $3500 than for you to go there for a week and a half?”

I remember wrestling with that question. Wouldn’t it be better to give than to go? Am I being a responsible steward? Then we got over to the Sudan–it’s a country where about a million of our brothers and sisters have died over the last twenty years in a civil war, sitting in a village that is just ravaged by bombs. I sat there and talked with a young believer named Andrew.

And for Andrew to look at me and to say, “David, over the last twenty years”—which is basically his whole life—“there have been various people who have brought us things”— most of them government funded agencies from other countries—“and sent us thing, but do you want to know how you can tell who a true brother is?” I said, “How?” Andrew looked at me and said, “David a true brother comes to be with you in your deepest time of need. You are a true brother.”

Now how does that show an unbiblical understanding of the gospel? Don’t miss it. When God decided to bring salvation to you and me, He did not send—praise God—He did not send gold or silver or cash or a check. He sent Himself. Where do we get the idea then that if we send our funds, that’s going to be the most effective way for the gospel to penetrate the world? We’ll send our money, but we won’t send ourselves. That is completely against the gospel.

Not that giving isn’t important, but how can we ever show the gospel if we don’t put feet to God’s Word and go? Are we that shallow to think that our checkbooks, our money alone is the answer to the needs of the world? We know that’s not true. Even in this world around Highway 280, there are neighborhoods filled with homes that are large homes, with nice cars, and hefty bank accounts represented. In the middle of those homes is hurt, and sorrow, and desperation, and separation from God, and deep need. We know that money is not the answer.

Why are we not going?

So why, when it comes to the needs of a billion people who’ve never heard the name of Jesus, are we willing to give but not to go? It misses out on the entire picture of the gospel. God, help us not to skew the gospel to the point where we send our money and we don’t send ourselves.

A third statement that we say: “But what about the needs here?” This is another smokescreen to hide our spiritual poverty. We think this sounds spiritual. “I’m concerned about the needs here. You’re talking about the nations all the time, but don’t forget there are needs here, Pastor.” It’s a spiritual smokescreen, because the overwhelming majority of people in this room are not actively engaged in meeting the needs here. How many of us are feeding the hungry in Birmingham? How many of you have ever led one person to faith in Christ in Birmingham outside of your family? It’s a spiritual smokescreen.

But even if we are actively involved, engaged in meeting needs here, I believe this statement doesn’t miss the point of our salvation or the gospel, but I believe it completely reflects an unbiblical understanding of compassion. When we say this, we show that we do not have the compassion of God.

You say, “What do you mean?” Well, when Jesus saw the crowds, in Matthew 9:36-38, “He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). When He saw the crowds and the needs, compassion welled up in Him. That means, in order to have that compassion—a Christ-like compassion well up in you—you have to see the crowds. But we’ve chosen to ignore the crowds.

To illustrate, let me ask, all across this room, for some volunteers. If you are in 5th grade or younger, I want to invite you to just stand up where you are.

You all stay standing for just a second. How many of us realize that every time we take a breath, a child dies of hunger? Every time we take a breath. How many of us realize that since we’ve gathered together this morning, literally hundreds of children in this world have died due to their poverty?

If that were these children, would we care? Would we do something to help them? Undoubtedly we would; of course we would. Then why are we not doing that with the millions upon millions of other children? “Well, because we don’t know those children.”

Exactly. We don’t know those children because we’ve been sitting behind a smokescreen saying we’re going to care for the needs here, and we’re not called to care about the needs there.

Acts 2:37 Teaches Us about Compassion

This is a biblical misunderstanding of compassion. Compassion does not select, it does not choose, who we’re going to show compassion to and who we’re not going to show compassion to. Compassion does not say, “Show it to those who are easy to show compassion to, those who are closest to me, those who are right in front of me.” That’s not biblical compassion. Biblical compassion says, “We’re not going to be selective in the way we show the love and demonstrate the grace of Christ. We’re not going to separate it between needs here and needs there.”

Some of you are thinking, “Well, you talk about going to all nations all the time. Aren’t you being selective about those other nations, and not caring about the needs here, when you say we need to go to all nations? Aren’t you being selective?” Well, I hope not. The United States is still a nation. No big changes recently–we are still constituted. When we say we’re going to go to all nations, it includes here.

But as a church, we are saying that we’re going to stop putting limits and boundaries on the compassion of Christ expressed through us. We’re going to stop sitting back and saying, “We’re concerned about what is in front of us,” and ignore the rest of the world. It’s not biblical, and it disregards the compassion of Jesus Christ. It sounds good—“What about the needs here?” But don’t forget… In our world, even talking about a city dump, there are people in the Sudan who would long to be able to eat out of a city dump.

Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did it for”—who? “You did for me.” So maybe the ultimate question is not, “Do we have compassion for the children of the world,” but “Do we have a care for Jesus?” And we’ve got to answer that question. We’ll be held accountable for how we answer that question.

“I’m not called there, pastor. I’m not called there.” If you were standing on the bank of a stream, and you saw in that stream two kids who were drowning, would you stand by and wait for a formal call to do something about it? Would you come up with excuses for why it’s not the right time, or it’s not your responsibility, or you’ve got other needs in your life to attend to? Absolutely not. At that point, the need determines the call.

God, help us to see the need, and see the purpose, the very purpose for which He has saved us. It’s not a call. It’s the purpose of our Christianity, and we miss it completely when we say these things. God, help us to stop saying these things, because in the process, we disconnect local from global. We put an “either/or” in Acts 1:8.

I want you to see the result. Let me give you an illustration. This is using the International Mission Board, which some of you may or may not be familiar with. It’s the mission-sending agency for the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention has 16 million people in Southern Baptist churches. The International Mission Board is the mission

sending agency for those 16 million people in those churches. Do you know how many missionaries are living overseas through the International Mission Board, out of 16 million? Do you know how many are going global? We’re going to divide up local from global.

Out of 16 million, you’ve got only 5,000 who are involved globally, living overseas, making the gospel known. So if we divide the two, we’ve got 15 million-plus who are going to serve locally and 5,000 who are going to serve globally. Just percentage-wise, that means we’re going to concentrate 99.97% locally, and only .03% globally. That means we’re going to put .03% of our people, “Great Commission Christians,” in 95% of the world. That adds up to one missionary for every 1.24 million people.

Is that a wise strategy? Is that a good strategy for us to have? That is complete disobedience to the commands of Christ to penetrate the world with the gospel. Aren’t you glad the disciples in Jerusalem did not adopt this philosophy we have? Aren’t you glad they didn’t say, “Well, I’m not called to foreign missions,” or “I’ll give my money”? Aren’t you glad they didn’t say, “What about the needs here?” If they did, we would not have the gospel today, because it would still be in the Middle East.

A Dynamic Alternative from Acts 2:37 …

Jesus is serious about His Church taking His gospel to the whole world. He is very serious about that. I mentioned earlier that I don’t know of a church that has a strategy to reach the whole world and is carrying it out. And what I want to say to you, as the pastor of this church, is that it’s time for that to change. It’s time for us to rise up from our spiritual smokescreens and excuses for not penetrating the world with the gospel, and take seriously the very purpose for which He has saved us. It’s time to put these lines that we come up with, which we think make us spiritual, put them behind. God, may they not be said at this church anymore. Let’s leave behind this dangerous approach, and let’s give ourselves to this dynamic alternative. There are two areas I want you to see that unfold in the book of Acts.

One, world-impacting disciples. All throughout the book of Acts here, you see portrait after portrait after portrait—Timothy, Paul, Silas, Barnabas, Stephen, Philip, Lydia—all of these different people who are taking on the world with their one life, taking the gospel that’s been entrusted to them, and spreading it to the ends of the earth, each one of them impacting the world.

God, may it be that a congregation of believers would gather together and say, “We’re going to each take on the world with our one lives, and we’re going to impact nations for the glory of Christ.”

Think about it. The harvest—a billion people who haven’t heard the name of Jesus, in addition to hundreds of hundreds of millions of others who are engrossed in all kinds of false ideologies and worldviews that steal the glory from the God who is alone worthy of that glory—with that kind of harvest, if a farmer was going to harvest that field, would he dig one big hole, and put 4,000 seeds right in that one hole? Is that the best way to grow a harvest?

Absolutely not. It would not make sense for God to take 4,000 people at the Church at Brook Hills and put them all in one big hole and cover it up. What happens when the seeds are all put in one big hole and it starts to grow up? They begin to choke each other out. God, help us to see a picture of the church.

But what happens when the farmer takes those 4,000 seeds, and he scatters it all over the field, and it begins to sprout up, and then he’s ready to bring in the harvest? What does he do? Does he stand in the barn and call for the harvest to come inside? No, that would be a ridiculous strategy. To stand in a building and think the harvest is going to come in there— wouldn’t that be a ridiculous strategy? Be careful how we answer that.

No, if that harvest is ready to be taken in, he’s going to mobilize everybody he knows to get out there in the harvest field. He’s going to spread it out, and they’re going to pull up the harvest, and it’s going to bear fruit. Thus, the picture of the New Testament Church: Not standing in the barn, not pouring into one hole, but harvesting seed all over the world.

World-impacting disciples.

Some of you are thinking, “Pastor you don’t get it. I’m not moving overseas.” You don’t get. You don’t get. I’m not talking about a career change. I’m not talking about where you’re going to have your house. I’m not talking about where you’re going to raise your family. What I am talking about is your life, surrendered to The Great Commission, and saying “God, scatter my one life wherever you want to.” Just imagine, next year, what if you gave 2% of your days, just 2%, to going global, connecting local and global? If you gave 2% of your days—seven days—next year, it wouldn’t make that big a difference.

What if you gave 2% of your life next year to connecting local and global, and meeting needs, and sharing Christ where the need is greatest in the world? If you just gave 2%, what do you think would happen? I’ll tell you what’ll happen. I guarantee you what’ll happen. God will take that 2%, and He will transform the other 98%.

Even when we talk about short-term missions, we miss this. We disconnect local from global. We talk about, “I’m going to train for 51 weeks a year to get ready for 1 week overseas.” We disconnect them instead of putting them together, when we should be saying, “God, use me for one week in another context to transform the 51 weeks in my own backyard.” I guarantee you, if you were to give 2% of your life next year—seven days—I promise you, God would challenge you, and He would change your perspective. He would open your eyes to see what He sees, so that when you come back to Birmingham, you’ll begin to see what He sees.

I’m convinced that the most effective ministry we may have in Birmingham is completely dependent on the ministry we have in 2% of our days somewhere else. I’m convinced the people of Birmingham need us, in this room, to give 2% to global, so that we begin to see what Christ sees, and feel what Christ feels. It will change the perspective on what we see when we go to our house, and we look across the street at our neighbor, and go downtown and see the guy on the street. It will change everything.

We put them together, connect local and global. It transforms. Can you imagine the seeds now being scattered all over the harvest field? Isn’t that a great picture? Now it makes sense. Now you see how ridiculous it is to ask, “Why would a guy whose passion about proclaiming the gospel to the whole world settle for pastoring one church in Birmingham?”

Do you realize how ridiculous a statement that is? It’s ridiculous, because you realize that a whole faith family, full of believers that are world-impacting disciples, can absolutely shake the earth for His glory.

You realize how ridiculous it is to sit back and ask, “Well, does the pastor care about Birmingham?” because you realize the commitment and surrender to the global mission of God radically transforms commitment and surrender to the local mission of God.

And what Oswald Smith said is true: “The light that shines the farthest ends up shining the brightest”—where? “At home.” You put them together, and you’ve got a picture of world-impacting disciples that are scattering the planet for the glory of Christ, with just 2% of their days. Instead of going to Disney World, they give themselves to the global mission of God, for 2% of their days.

Don’t miss it. World-impacting disciples produce ever-multiplying churches. This is the second component of this dynamic alternative. It’s not a new strategy. It’s exactly the strategy of Acts. Think about it with me. If we go overseas, or go to another context, for just a week—seven days—are we going to be able to start a church that way? Can we start a church in seven days? Probably not. You can do some important things in seven days, but you probably can’t get a whole church going, build a whole church—not just a building, but a church, the people.

But what happens when, over those seven days, you begin to invest your life in believers in those churches, and you begin to give them some of the training and the resources–the things they need to be more effective at being world-impacting disciples there–and we begin to lock arms with believers in this country and that country? Because of our seven days with them, those believers are able to more effectively be world-impacting disciples where they are, and churches begin to grow. Together we lock arms, and we go to another country, together. What you’ve got is a picture of the family of God, the Church of Jesus Christ, united together as world-impacting disciples and multiplying churches. It is the plan of God.

The new pastor has not come up with a new strategy. It’s there, it’s been there. We have ignored it. We have missed it. We’ve missed out on the picture of what it means to give ourselves to His mission.

Let me give you an example. If there were a group of people who were to stand up and hold hands facing one another in a circle, then this would show exactly what most of our churches look like. The only problem is, what is the only thing they can see? Each other. Now, if we left them here for a while, they’d start to get a little frustrated. They’d start to see things in each other they really didn’t like too much. They’d begin to get uncomfortable with always looking at each other. It begins to cause problems, maybe some friction. Does that sound familiar?

They’d begin to complain about ridiculous things, like: “I didn’t like the style of music today,” or “I wasn’t comfortable in the church,” or “This person didn’t talk to me,” or “That person didn’t say hello to me,” or “The preacher has too much time on his hands,” or “He doesn’t have enough time to meet with me.” Whatever it may be, we begin to complain about the most ridiculous things.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus did not die on the cross so that we would live our lives turned inward on each other, insulated and isolated from the needs of the world.

There’s another way to make a circle by joining hands. Each person could simply turn around. It changes everything doesn’t it? Don’t miss it: unifying and expanding. We still have unity. They’re still together, joining hands as a faith family. But where are they faced? They’re faced outward, and their perspective begins to change. They begin to see what Jesus sees.

A mother sees a mother who’s holding her child, and the child is crying because the child has parasites and worms, and the mother can’t do anything about it. It changes this volunteer’s perspective on how comfortable she is in worship.

Another Christ-follower sees a homeless boy with no shirt and no shoes and no parents, whose only alarm clock is the hot pavement, which wakes him up in the morning so he can go sell gum and try to buy another meal for himself. It changes the way this volunteer responds when the style of music doesn’t fit exactly what he was thinking it should have been. And all across this circle, God uses His perspective—even if it’s just 2% of our days—

to transform the rest of our perspective the rest of the year. Don’t miss it. This is the picture of the church.

I want to invite a friend of mine named Kayla from Venezuela to share with you. I want to ask her to share with you a little about how she has seen world-impacting disciples affect her life, and how that has affected ever-multiplying churches in a place that most of us—if not all of us—have never been.

Kayla: It’s a pleasure for me to speak with you, to represent the voice of Latin America— countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador, and my country, Venezuela. This is to mention just a few of them. Most of the countries in South America and Central America look like my country, Venezuela, so when you listen to my story, just know that it represents all of them.

Maracaibo, my city, has three million people, but 95% of them aren’t Christians. There are children, youth, and adults living in darkness—a spiritual darkness. They’re my people, they’re my friends, and they’re my family. But they’re your family also.

Maracaibo has twenty-five mother churches. But these churches do not have enough support, material, resources, or personnel to reach a city this size. However, God is making a way. God is using people just like you to come to my country and share and demonstrate His love. God has used people like you to give clean water to the Yupan Indians. Not only clean water, but the Living Water. I have seen people like you being used by God to feed the hungry by giving bread–but not only physical bread, but the Bread of Life. I have seen communities getting clothes–but also clothes of righteousness.

It breaks my heart to see the kids who live around the city dump. They have to go to the trash and dig in there to try to find food or clothes to survive, for them and for their families. But now I can rejoice, because people like you have come, and have helped build schools and libraries. Now they’re able to read many books–but not only the books from school, but the Bible, the greatest book in the world. Now they’re going to begin to start learning about Jesus, my hero, my Savior. So there is hope. I have seen thousands of thousands of people come to know Christ because of this, because of demonstrating love.

The Venezuelan Christians have also been challenged by disciple-making. What I’m about to tell you is my life, my heart beating. It’s the reason I live or die. I am a disciple-maker. My disciples and I are trying to step out, and reach out for the world. We’ve already been to Honduras, Argentina, Spain, Morocco, Cuba, and soon we’re going to India.

Honduran Christians are doing the same thing. As they invest in others, they’re going together, and they’re investing in helping Christians in churches around the world. They’re helping Nicaragua, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama. So it is possible.

Just imagine the things that God could do through you–through each one of the persons who are here today who have so, so much. If God can do it though us, through the Venezuelan Christians who live in poverty, how much could he do with your life? If you’d just follow our example.

I do not have much. I do not have a house. I don’t have a nice car. I don’t have a lot of money, but I have my life, my time–all I have is for Him.

It’s still not enough. I cannot do this by myself. One day, I was walking with a good friend of mine in Maracaibo, in one of the parks down there. Three kids, maybe five, nine, and eleven years old, came up to us selling candy. So my friend and I decided to buy four pieces of candy, and we just gave it back to them so they could eat it.

We started talking to them and playing with them, and we asked them about their mom. They said she was working, selling candy in the next street. So we asked them if they were hungry, and they said yes, they were. These kids didn’t have any shoes on, and their clothes were really dirty. You could tell they didn’t have very much. So we took them across the street to a bakery, and we fed them and talked to them, and we just had the greatest time.

We, of course, shared the gospel. The three kids received Christ. It was getting late, so my friend and I wanted to go and try to find their mom. So we started walking, and we walked and walked for a couple of blocks. One of the little girls said, “We always look for her, but we never find her.”

They started asking us questions like, “Do you have a house? “Do you have a mom and a dad?” “Do you go to school?” That really broke my heart. I didn’t know what to say. They told us it was okay for us to go ahead and leave, and that they were going to be okay, because they were going to just catch the bus and go home. At this point,

I knew they were lying. But we didn’t have any other option but to say goodbye to them, so we started walking away. When we looked back, they were at the park again, trying to sell candy to other people. That’s their home. That’s their house.

So now you can see what I mean when I say that my time, my love, and my compassion is not enough. We have 25,000 kids that those three in my country alone. 25,000 who live in the streets.

I’m here to be their voice, because they can’t be here. I believe that you guys have everything it takes to go for a week and help. Why wouldn’t you go? All we need is Jesus, and we already have him. All we need is the Holy Spirit, and we already have him. So I’m here this morning to ask you to please take my hand and come with me.

My people need you. In the name of Jesus, please help my people.

A Challenge to Give 2%

With all the need, how could I, with one life, impact all that need? That’s the question we need to stop ignoring and start wresting with. I want to say to you today, as the pastor of this church and the pastor of this staff, that the staff has decided to give 2% of their time, as a minimum, next year. We’re getting our passports, and all the staff is saying, “We’re

going to take Kayla’s hand.”

The question I want to pose before you this morning is this: Who else is with us? Who will give 2%? In just a second I’m going to invite you to stand. Surely there are 500 people here today, if not more, who would stand and say, “I’m going to connect local and global, and I’m going to give 2% of my days next year to the purpose for which I was saved. I’m going to stop disconnecting local from global, and I’m going to give 2% of my days.”

I know as soon as I say that, across the room we’re going to start asking questions like, “Where would I go?” or “How much does it cost?” or “What would I do?” or “How would that work in this or that?”

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for us to stop asking questions and making excuses and start being obedient. I’m not saying those questions aren’t important. They are all important. However, let’s be confident in the God who has given us this plan to provide for it to be accomplished. Let’s trust that He’s big enough to handle every question that is represented all across this room. He’s big enough to handle them.

The question is, are we going to be obedient to the plan He’s given us and has promised to bless? He’s promised to bless this plan. Let’s say, “God, we’re going to give ourselves to your plan, and we’re going to expect your blessing, and we’re going to trust your blessing. We’re going to give 2%.”

Seven days. Not a big difference. “I’m going to connect local with global. I’m going to take personal responsibility for the obligation. All over the world, I’m going to pay the debt I owe. All across this room, 2% to transform 98% here.

Kayla, we’re going to join hands with you, and we’re going to join hands with world impacting disciples all over the world. We’re going to give ourselves to that which made the early Church different. We’re going to connect that which for far too long we have disconnected.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!