This is a phrase that has been used over the past few decades to describe a philosophy that many activists use to approach certain issues and causes. Some may think that this approach is new or novel, but I would argue that it is actually very old. Acts 1:8; “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Matthew 28:18-20 “… Go therefore and make disciples…baptizing them…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” When we read these passages we begin to understand that Jesus was telling us to go and spread His Gospel one person at a time, Disciples, making Disciples who make more Disciples. Yes, there is a big global mission, but everyone needs to take ownership or their own local piece of it, and you can’t get more local than inside the walls of your own home. Certainly, God calls some to go to the ends of the earth and others to send and support them, but I believe that the most important disciples we can make are those in our own families.
In the first few years of the 21st Century, American Church planters launched an effort with the goal of planting 2000 new churches, each with 1000 members, over the course of the next 10 years. The thinking was that this would radically reshape the landscape of faith in our country. More than 10 years have now passed and believe it or not, we succeeded. There are more than 2000, thousand member churches in America that didn’t exist 15 years ago, so how did we succeed in doing this, but fail to impact the culture? Hundreds of thousands of people were brought into the kingdom, where did we go wrong?
A recent study estimated that only 4% of those between the ages of 15-30 could articulate the basics of the gospel with someone. Now, I understand that this generation is leaving the church in droves, but how do I make sense of the fact that 35% of them grew up attending church at least semi-regularly? What were they being taught, because it doesn’t sound like it was the Gospel? Thirty percent of my generation has a basic understanding of the gospel, what are we passing on to our kids? Maybe the problem doesn’t have as much to do with science, or atheists, or gay marriage as we’d like to think. Maybe the problem is that we’ve lost sight of the fact that there is not a more important place to fulfill the Great Commission than inside the walls of our own homes.
At the same time we were planting church after church and bringing hundreds of thousands into the kingdom, we lost tens of millions of children because we failed to pass the basic truths of the Gospel down to them. Our big high profile wins (Summit Church 9,000 people, Elevation Church 20,000 people, New Spring Church 35,000 people, LifeChurch 50,000 plus people), have been overshadowed by millions of tiny losses (one family at a time, one child at a time). We shouldn’t be overwhelmed with the enormity of our global mission or the smallness of our local place in it; it may seem ludicrous that we are called to fill the earth with worshipers one person at a time, but that is really the only way that it can effectively be done. I guess that’s why Jesus set it up that way, turns out He was right all along.