As we look at the history of Christianity or observe nature created by God, we can learn that the only way to survive long term is to start new churches. The Holy Spirit is the one that encourages us to pay greater attention to church planting.
God is the God of generations. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A family will not experience the next generation if children will not be born. Churches that are unable to raise their new generation to be such church planters and leaders, who reach non-Christians of their generation, will perish within two generations. This is what all of Western church history testifies. Many denominations and churches are extinct because of this reason.
What will be our future? We believe that we need all generations. We want to be a denomination where there are young and old people, where strong churches with deep roots work alongside new churches.
Christ was ready to leave 99 in order to reach 1. What are you ready for in order to reach the 97%? We cannot wait until people come to us. We have to go to them. Please, read this material carefully. Pray and accept God’s challenge.
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LBCU future vision or the renewed LBCU vision that was accepted during LBCU Congress on May 18, 19 of 2012.
3 Values and 5 Directions of LBCU future vision
The goal of Latvian Baptist Churches and their members is a Latvian society that is changed by Gospel. In order to fulfill this goal during this time of God’s grace, God calls us to be Christocentric, able to multiply and missional Christians, churches and entire church union.
Christ is the fulfilment and center of God’s mission or purposes. In Him we are saved. In Him and through Him God has purposed to fulfill the goal of His mission which is all creation renewed in Christ and united under Him.
Christ is the center of my life, and the center of our church where He reigns, is present and active in all areas of life. Christ in me is my ability to multiply. Christ is my identity and the church’s identity – in Him we are servants, family members, disciples and missionaries.
If Christ is not in the center of my life, church and denomination, then my selfishness, ambitions, goals, gifts, abilities and inabilities take central place.
Christ is the center of the Gospel that says, “In Christ I am accepted; therefore I obey”. Religion is the opposite of that and works according to the principle, “I obey; therefore I am accepted”. Luther considered that deep down people naturally work according to this second – religion – principle, and continue doing it even after they have received Christ. Even though we understand and acknowledge Gospel principle, again and again we return to the principle of religion that comes to us so naturally. It claims that I myself am a savior to myself, and encourages spiritual pride. It paralyzes my relationship with God and ministry. Gospel is neither legalism nor permissiveness: it is not a law without grace nor grace without law. Gospel means that in Christ I am sinful and lost yet accepted. I am so bad that He had to die for me, and I am so loved that He gave His life for me with joy.
God’s word: John 1:14, John 15, 1 Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 1:3-23, 2:14-22, Galatians 2:16-20, Colossians 1:28-29, 2:6-7, Romans 5:12-21, Revelation 21:6, etc.
ABLE TO MULTIPLY
God has involved us – each of His children and church in total—in fulfilling His mission. God has given us a task not just for us to grow up in Christ, but also to make others Christ’s disciples who are able to disciple others. Christ’s church is called to multiply and to start new churches.
Church multiplies if disciples and leaders multiply. Church is able to multiply if it has Christ’s followers, disciples who live Christocentric and missional life, and make others to be Christ’s disciples in their everyday life. A christian’s ability to multiply is closely connected with their submission to Christ’s leadership and work in their life, so that every moment they could experience Christ’s life-giving expressions. Christ is in me; therefore I am able to multiply spiritually.
If we are unable to multiply, then Christ’s command to make others to be disciples remains unfulfilled, and God’s word is not obeyed. Then church has no place and does not need new disciples and leaders for its growth. Then it is normal that we just “attend” church instead of participating in its life and mission with our life. Then there is lots of place for creating consumer culture, and little place for initiative, development and creativity.
Just like every apple hides an orchard, every Christian hides a church. This is how church in the first century understood growth; this is how they grew. We need Christians who are able to see orchard in an apple.
God’s word: 2 Timothy 2:2, Ephesians 4:11-13, John 15, Genesis 49:22-26; Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalms 1:1-3, Titus 1:4-5, 1 Corinthians 3:15, 2 Corinthians 8:16-17, 23, Acts 6 and 15, etc.
Our God is a God of mission—He begins and implements it. The goal of His mission is to free the entire creation from the power and presence of sin, and to unite it under one head – Jesus Christ. Therefore the entire world – starting from our home, village, and town to the farthest place of the world is His mission field. God calls us as His nation to His mission. Each one of us are missionaries in this environment – school, work, home where God has put us for His purposes, and where we live every day. Missionary – it is my identity in Christ that I live 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
If I, my church and denomination is not missional, then I do not live according to my identity in Christ. He is not my Lord, just an additional thing in my life. Then I and we all serve idols – our comfort, security, egotism, misunderstood spirituality. Then those who do not know Christ will not see Him in the way we deal with real difficulties and challenges of everyday life. They will not hear our God news because it will not match our life style. Then Christ’s church will not grow, neither in their spiritual depth nor numbers.
As we live according to our mission, we bear God’s likeness in us. It gives us much joy, and above all – brings glory to God! Sin distorts God’s likeness in us. It also steals our mission which we are created for, and which Christ has bought us for. As Christ fulfilled His mission, He returned to His Father and sent us His Holy Spirit who will give us power to be His witnesses. We are truly alive when God’s power works in us.
God’s word: Romans 1:15-17, Matthew 5:13-14, 28:18-20, John 3:16-17, 17:18, 20:21, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 1 Peter 2:9-12, Acts 10, Jeremiah 28, etc.
DIFFERENT MINISTRY DIRECTIONS
In order to implement this goal and to live according to these three values, God during this time has called us to especially focus on these 5 areas:
- Children: for every church to have Christocentric, able to multiply and missional children’s ministry
- Youth: every church to have Christocentric, able to multiply and missional youth ministry
- Ministers and leaders: every church to have Christocentric, able to multiply and missional ministers and different kinds of leaders
- Church renewal: every existing church becomes more Christocentric, able to multiply and more missional
- Church planting: every new church is being planted as Christocentric, able to multiply and missional church
Several initiatives have already started in all of these areas, and some new ideas will be implemented soon. You can read about that in this collection of options.
If you or your church have ideas, initiatives, thoughts that would help entire LBCU family to grow more towards being more Christocentric, able to multiply or missional in these five areas, please, contact Bishop Peteris Sprogis by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org