My wife and I cleaned out our refrigerator this week. We found a lot of food past the expiration date. I’m frugal, so I bravely tried to eat some of the recently expired food but ended up spitting a prepackaged hard-boiled egg into the trash because of the unpleasant flavor.
Some people would like to put an expiration date on local churches, and they may write off church members as too out-of-date to be useful. If your church is old, small or both, they may tell you it would be better to lock the doors and move along. Perhaps, like the egg from my fridge, your church isn’t going to regain a tasteful flavor again. Some churches regretfully must close.
Maybe the thought of your church closing doesn’t seem all that bad. Maybe you’re burned-out and ready for a break. Perhaps you can catch one of the TV preachers on Sunday morning instead, and let your community’s other Christians take their turn at making disciples.
But what if God isn’t done with you and your local church yet? I recently read Larry Walkemeyer’s “Multiply Ministries” (fmchr.ch/lwalkmm), a book in the FreeMo Journals series. Walkemeyer shares that his church — Light & Life Christian Fellowship in Long Beach, California — was in 1991 “a small group of wonderful Anglo-Saxon saints (read ‘white’) trying to do church in a neighborhood that had morphed from Dutch dairy farmers to a multiethnic urban population comprised of less than 20 percent Anglo-Saxons. The church had made a few changes along the way, but basically things remained the same as when they started in 1954.”
Walkemeyer and his congregation didn’t close the doors like some church consultants might have suggested. They’re still meeting at a building with 39 parking spaces, but they’ve become a diverse congregation planting other churches. According to Walkemeyer, “Last Easter, over 6,000 people were in churches started by Light & Life and our 39 parking spaces.”
This issue’s theme is “readiness and renewal” — a phrase taken directly from the new “Multiplication Plan FMCUSA” available for download at fmcusa.org/resource. This year, Light + Life Magazine joins the church in embarking on a multiplication journey. Issues will explore three distinct elements that lead to multiplication: personal renewal, recalibration of churches, and replication of leaders and churches.
If we’re talking about churches, why is the renewal “personal”? Well, each church consists of people, and people must be renewed for the church to be renewed and then multiplied. In the words of British singer-songwriter Matt Redman, “Lord, send revival. Start with me.”
While renewal starts on a personal level, it brings revival that spreads to others. In the multiplication plan, the Free Methodist Church – USA bishops write, “When revival breaks, an uncontainable and unexplainable movement of the Spirit leads to growth that exceeds expectation and planning.”
Keep reading to learn how you can be ready and renewed to join that revival.
JEFF FINLEY has served as the managing editor of Light + Life since 2011. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media. He serves as a volunteer youth leader at John Wesley Free Methodist Church.1