You have seen the pictures. A pebble is dropped in a still pond and the ripples flow out from the center. Or raindrops on that same pond, each drop creating its own ripples and together the multiple ripples create a mass of energy - ripples against ripples until the whole pond is dancing with ripples.
When we think of mission strategies we need to think of ripples. All ripples count but the more and larger ripples we can create the more influence we have for the gospel. It is possible for missions to ripple on very large numbers of people globally - if they think strategically.Here are some ripples moving from small to large that together can create huge mission impact.
Ripples of evangelism
A small ripple but one that every missionary should be committed to. Every time we lead someone to Christ a ripple occurs and if they are healthy Christ followers they will ripple on others down through their lives.Ripples of church planting
God chose the local church as His means to reach the world. Every time a healthy church is planted it creates a ripple - especially if that church is committed to reproducing itself.Ripples of training/coaching/mentoring multiple national church planters.
Now the ripples start to get larger because instead of concentrating on a single church plant, mission personnel are seeing themselves as coaches and trainers of multiple 'national' church planters who are far more capable of planting and pastoring a church than from someone outside their culture. Here we move from addition to multiplication.Ripples of formal and informal theological education
Training pastors, twenty, forty, one hundred, multiple hundreds creates even greater and multiple ripples leading to even greater multiplication of influence. While formal theological training is vital, the informal training of lay bi-vocational leaders is critical if we are going to maximize our impact. In order to reach large numbers of people it is necessary to train far more leaders informally than through formal education.Ripples of holistic ministry
In a poor and needy world (54% of our world lives on less than $3.00 USD per day) bringing needed help through education, medical assistance, micro development, crisis relief, community development and any number of services opens hearts, opens conversations and becomes a wonderful, powerful platform for evangelism and church planting - especially among populations that would not otherwise be open to the gospel.Ripples of coming alongside movement leaders or entire movements
God has gifted the church with amazing movement leaders around the world who are missional, deeply committed to reaching their people for Christ but who are looking for partners who can come alongside them and partner with them. Think about this. When you partner with, help, encourage a gifted movement leader, all of a sudden you have multiplied your kingdom influence to touch all the people that this movement leader touches. This is huge multiplication!
In the same way, when we come alongside movements around the world, be they movements of 10,000, 200,000 or even larger to provide training, teams, specialized help - in order to help these movements be more successful and missional the influence one has is even greater. Again, huge multiplication.Ripples of mission movements
When missionaries can help other national movements become mission sending movements there is extraordinary opportunity to extend kingdom impact. Missions is about 'all people' reaching 'all people.' Every time we can partner with a movement to enable them to send missionaries and then partner with them in those mission efforts, together we create synergistic ripples that makes God smile.
There are many other kinds of ripples. I think of MK educators and service personnel who make it possible for others to be involved in the kinds of ministries I have outlined above. They ripple on more people than they know because their service makes possible the service of others.
We can think addition or multiplication in missions. The more we think multiplication, the more we think strategically, the more kingdom influence and impact we will have. Here is an amazing thought. Never in human history have there been more people on our planet. And with globalization, ease of travel and modes of communication, never has it been possible to reach more people for Christ more quickly than today. Not that it is easy in many places. But globally the opportunity is amazingly huge, if we will think strategically, think multiplication, think ripples.
Is your mission primarily doing addition or multiplication?