Over the past few months during this time of exhortation, we’ve been walking through the mission and vision of Cities Church. It’s not been every consecutive Sunday, but since around March we’ve been using this time to talk about who we are and what we’re about.
Jesus in Matthew 28 commissioned his church to make disciples of all nations, and that is what we want to do. We want to introduce Jesus to those who don’t know him in the hopes that they will know him and be changed by him. And so we have three essentials: we worship Jesus; we serve one another; and we seek the good of the Cities. We’ve looked at each of these, and we’ve looked at our central strategy to make disciples, which is what we call Community Groups. The last few weeks we’ve looked at other pieces such as team leadership, and pervasive mission, and cultural hopefulness. And, well, this week we conclude the series with the topic of church planting.
At Cities Church we want to be a church that plants churches that plants churches.
And in a pretty straightforward way, we believe that planting churches is what happens if we are effective in our mission to make disciples.
We are a Word-centered church. We cherish the word of God and we want to, by God’s grace, to faithfully preach his word. More specifically, as a Word-centered church we would say that we are a gospel-centered church because we believe that Jesus and his gospel is what the Bible is all about. And, of course, we can’t stop there. We’re not a Word-centered, gospel-centered church just so we can come here for an hour on Sundays to worship. We believe that if we are faithfully Word-centered, and therefore gospel-centered, that we will also be mission-centered. Because what he have in Jesus and his gospel is too good not to share. And this is how church planting fits in.
It goes like this: we make disciples — our Community Groups are seeking the good of the Cities; we’re sharing and showing the love of Jesus, and God causes all kinds of collisions. People come to know Jesus and he changes their lives, just like he did ours, and when that happens, our Community Groups grow. And as our Community Groups grow, we have to start new Community Groups who keep making disciples. And as more disciples are being made and more Community Groups are multiplying in concentrated parts of the Cities, we plant a church there. And then we plant another. And then we do it again. And we keep doing this as long as God will let us, even raising up members of our church to go and do this among the unreached peoples of the world.
We want to make disciples, which means we want to plant churches — because that is what this gospel compels us to do. And I want to use this exhortation now as another opportunity to call all of you to join us in this — to come dream this dream with us and pray with us that God will use us this way.
And when I say pray, I mean pray very honestly about this, including the confession of our sins and all the ways we’re tempted to get off track. So what I’d like to do now is lead us in a short prayer of confession that will then lead into a time of silent confession.
Prayer of Confession
Father, we confess right away that too often rather than dream about your kingdom’s advance, we are consumed with dreams about our own little kingdoms. We confess, and you already know this, that often our minds are filled with thoughts of our individual successes more than they are of your church’s corporate flourishing. We tend to get more excited about personal blessings than we do the blessing of your people together on mission. We are more defensive about our own comforts than we are the commission Jesus has given us. We are more protective of our time than we are generous with our gifts.
We are concerned with what others think about us regarding the tragedy in Charleston more than we are concerned that tragedies like that never happen again. And Father, these things are almost easy to pray because we feel them so present in our hearts. We are an inverted people and you must change us, please. If we are stuck on ourselves we won’t make disciples and we won’t plant churches, and so we need you to continue to do a gospel miracle in our hearts. Work your gospel miracle in our hearts so that through us gospel miracles will rain down on these Cities.
This is our corporate confession and prayer, and now, Father, as your sons and daughters, we make our silent confessions to you. . . .