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Sending 1%: How Would the World Change?

When MTW Coordinator Lloyd Kim first announced the 1% Challenge at the 2016 PCA General Assembly in Mobile, Alabama, he was met with applause—a palpable level of excitement atypical of good, stoic Presbyterians. The vision Lloyd cast that day was bold, audacious even, in its scope and ambition.

He challenged each PCA church to pledge 1 percent of their members to be new missionaries serving internationally within 10 years, either with MTW or with another missions organization. That tithe of a tithe would mean 2,800 new missionaries sent out to proclaim the gospel, plant churches, and be the hands and feet of Christ across the globe.

But did that challenge actually change anything? How was this push for greater dedication to global missions any different from last year or the year before?

Almost immediately after Lloyd’s announcement, MTW field leadership started challenging their teams to think bigger. But there was not yet a concerted effort by the entire organization. The turning point came last August. As Europe International Director David Stoddard remembers it, the MTW senior team was all together in one room at a leadership retreat. At one point the conversation died down, and John Tubbesing, MTW’s Business as Mission director and interim chief administrative officer, asked, “Are we really serious about the 1 percent?”

No one said a word.

“Are we really serious about this?” he asked again, emphatically. “Because from a business perspective, I don’t think we are.”

At first the room was silent. But then the minds started whirring, and people began to speak, to brainstorm, to plan. They started unpacking the heart of John’s question and hashing out what concrete changes the 1% Challenge would produce. What could be the implications for MTW’s home office? For the church? For the field?

Setting up chairs in the revival tent  
First, MTW leadership realized they needed to act in faith by readying the organization’s infrastructure for growth. If, in a few short years, nearly 3,000 new missionaries came on board, MTW couldn’t just keep doing the same things and be able to equip them all.

“If we really believe that God will answer our prayer, we need to prepare for it,” said Lloyd. “It’s like if you say, ‘We’re praying for 1,000 people at this outreach event,’ and then you set up 50 chairs. It makes you wonder, do you really believe that God’s going to answer your prayer? No, you set out 50 chairs. That tells you what you believe.”

Now, MTW is establishing regional hubs in strategic locations across the country. These hubs are building networks to better support churches, universities, and seminaries with events and trainings localized to their regions.

MTW West Coast and Midwest have launched in Southern California and St. Louis, and we’re looking to open MTW Southwest this summer. We’ve also started conversations about an MTW Northeast hub.

“These are the chairs that we’re setting up,” said Lloyd.

This new, decentralized approach is a bold new frontier for the PCA and MTW, a grassroots effort better positioning us to personally connect with the Reformed community scattered across the country. But mobilizing thousands of missionaries in the next decade will take more than rethinking and restructuring. More than anything it will take the Spirit moving in local churches to spur ordinary hearts toward God’s extraordinary mission.

We need to be unashamed supernaturalists
“We’re a church of about 250 or so, so we’ll probably raise up two to three people to send to the mission field,” said Joel Treick, senior pastor of Pinewoods Church in Cantonment, Florida. “It’s a big goal, but it’s exciting. It’s something that we really believe in and that we’re trying to see happen by the power of prayer.”

Now, Joel is preaching through a missions-focused sermon series leading up to a spring missions conference. In his mind, the more a church is sending people out—both overseas and into their communities—the more new converts will flock to that church. Joel wants to see the best and brightest of his congregation going out to serve as cross-cultural missionaries. “On Sunday we did a sermon on the Great Commission and I said, ‘I believe that God is going to raise up two or three of you to go overseas. … But listen, why not five? Why not 10? We’re not the most giant congregation in the PCA, but why can’t we send 10 people? Is that too great for God to do? Absolutely not.’”

It would be so easy to respond to the 1% Challenge with skepticism, or cynicism, or fear. It would be understandable for a pastor to respond that his church is too small for missions, or too big to mobilize one of every 100, or that the finances just don’t add up. But our call is not to fear, but to dare greatly for the gospel.

“I love the idea of the 1 percent. … We need to be challenged,” Joel said. “We need to be unashamed supernaturalists and ask God to do big things. … I’m so thankful that we have an organization like MTW that’s thinking through the nuts and bolts of training and sending and strategy and all that. I love it. But when that engine has the fuel of the Holy Spirit, man that thing’s gonna go.”

Faith and follow-through
According to MTW Asia-Pacific International Director Cartee Bales, one of the biggest effects of the 1% Challenge is that it has allowed MTW field leaders to dare to dream of what could be—to look at the mercy projects, the people, the neighborhoods in need of church plants that have gripped missionaries’ hearts for years, but that they’ve had to neglect because there just weren’t enough people.

“We’re asking the field to lift its eyes a little bit and ask, ‘What might God do here in the next 10 years if we had the resources to do it?’” said Cartee.

But just how much more?

David Stoddard ran the numbers. Assuming the trends and ratios all stay the same over the next 10 years, if MTW received each one of the 1% Challenge’s missionary yield, that translates to 662 new missionaries in Europe.

“What that concretely means is, we have got to train and equip more team leaders,” David said. “We’re working on being better able to receive, train, and equip missionaries in order to strengthen the local European church.”

What could be the impact of 662 missionaries on post-Christian Europe? How many churches could be planted, communities transformed, and lives changed by the peace-bringing power of the gospel, when hundreds of Christ-followers are sent out by the church into the heart of Africa, into the megacities of Asia, into the islands of the Pacific and the mountain towns of South America?

In the end, the point of the 1% Challenge is not to make MTW bigger and better known. It’s not to bring in more finances or even to have more missionaries for their own sake. The point is the advancement of the kingdom, the propagation of the gospel to the ends of the earth.

It’s not about the numbers; it’s what happens because of the numbers. Changing the world is in God’s hands. We’re simply answering His call to missions.


Are you a church leader? Commit to praying for God to raise up 1 percent of your members at mtw.org/1 and sign up. We’ll send you a packet to help get you started.

Are you ready to serve? We’re ready to help. Email [email protected] or visit mtw.org/serve.

 


 


 

 

Andrew Shaughnessy, 1 percent Church planting May 22, 2018
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