As church leaders, we are tasked with challenging our members to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ and go further in their ministry. Most of us learned early in our ministry that the best way to lead is with vision. As we share a clear vision of “what could be,” people around us will find their role in making all of the necessary things happen.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that it would be fun to get everyone together at the beach for an evening and share a meal together. With no further effort on my part, the next day a list circulated with folks signing up to bring everything from plates and napkins to salads and desserts. Someone offered to bring firewood and another brought chairs and a table. In no time, the event came together and everyone shared in a great evening of fellowship. My simple vision was rapidly brought to fruition by capable and motivated folks who wanted to be a part of it.
Imagine what would happen if you shared a bigger vision … a big audacious goal with your congregation—something that stirred some of the most talented people into action. The results being a deeper commitment to you, the church and the Kingdom, while deepening their faith and sharing it with the world.
I have seen the vision of the PEACE Plan do just this, and the results are amazing.
The first time I heard the PEACE Plan, I knew that I had to play a role in it. The vision was huge; however, I could see that it needed a lot of pieces—for the first time in my life I felt a responsibility to participate in missions. It is what brought me from being a businessman and regular attendee to full time ministry. It is the power of vision in leadership … you inspire folks to fulfill their calling without ever being specific.
Rick Warren remembers the day in May, 2003, when his life changed forever. Inspired by the needs he saw so clearly during a visit to Africa, he asked God for guidance. “Lord, what are the biggest problems we should be tackling? What are the global goliaths that billions of people face? What is it that the U.N. and the U.S. have failed to do? Tell me, God, so You will get the glory.” From that prayer, Rick recalls writing out the five biggest world problems: spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, and illiteracy. “Lord, you must have a solution” Rick asked and “that very night,” Warren says, “God gave me the PEACE Plan.”
A lot has happened since Pastor Rick received that vision from God. We have shared it with pastors and churches worldwide. I have been blessed with the opportunity to share the PEACE Plan with churches and businesses and the reaction is always the same … “Wow, that is the clearest explanation of the biggest problems in the world and the most specific way to address them that I have ever heard. I see the problems, the approach which Jesus modeled and I see the church and myself as responsible for the solution.”
As an Executive Pastor, you are uniquely positioned to share this vision with some of the most important leaders in your church and community. You have more influence on your Senior Pastor and the leadership than anyone else. You are probably in close contact with the high capacity men and woman in your congregation. Sharing your vision is the best way to have these folks come alongside you and bring your vision to fruition. Leaders will arise around you and you will see people rise to higher levels of commitment than you ever imagined.
I have many examples from Executive Pastors who have shared this vision and are now being contacted by their members who want to get involved. These people become your most committed members.
Briefly, here are the key elements of the PEACE Plan:
The greatest giant in our world today is the fact that billions of people do not know Jesus Christ. Billions of people have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14 says, “Before people can ask the Lord to save them they must believe in Him. And before they can believe in Him they must hear about Him. And for them to hear about Jesus someone must tell them.”
Equip Servant Leaders
There are plenty of people in leadership around this world who abuse their power; plenty who refuse to use that power for the good of their people but choose instead to use it for themselves. This has created chaos in the world. Leaders must have moral basis. They must have wisdom. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Without wise leadership a nation falls.” Proverbs 16:12 says, “Sound leadership has a moral foundation.” Zechariah 10:2 says, “People wander around like a lost sheep. They’re in trouble because they have no leader.”
Assist the Poor
Over half of the world—that’s three billion people—lives on less than two dollars a day. Those are heart-breaking statistics.
Proverbs 28:7 says, “The righteous care about justice for the poor but the wicked have no such concerns.”
Care for the Sick
I’ve seen the effects of people with HIV/AIDS. Their bodies slowly waste away from opportunistic infections. As Christians we cannot ignore these people. Ezekiel 34:4 says, “The diseased and the weak you have not strengthened. The sick you have not healed. The hurt and the crippled you have not bandaged. Those gone astray you have not brought back. And the lost you have not sought to find. And God says therefore I am against you.” Diseases like AIDS, malaria, mumps, and measles are preventable but still ravaging underdeveloped countries.
We can help, we must help.
Educate the Next Generation
Over half the world is still illiterate. How can a country grow and be strong economically when its citizens can’t read, can’t write? It’s no wonder these countries aren’t strong. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” We need to teach them to read.
A Job for the Church
When we look at these five giant global problems, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But God did not want us to do it ourselves. He gave us the Church and members to be mobilized.
The Church is the only group in the world capable of taking on these problems. These global problems are so enormous that no government in the world has the ability to handle them. All of the relief organizations together could not handle them. There’s only one organization big enough to tackle these five problems, and that’s the local church and its members—the millions of local churches all around the world and billions of followers of Christ.
As the Church, we have several advantages over every other organization.
- We have the widest distribution You can go into any village and you may not see a school, clinic, grocery store, or post office, but they do have a church. The church is everywhere.
- We have the largest army of volunteers. There are hundreds of millions of Christians who can volunteer to help solve these problems around the world. People do not volunteer for governments or businesses.
- We have the moral authority and local credibility to do it. We are commanded by God, commissioned by Him to care for the poor, feed the hungry, help the sick, and reach those who’ve never heard the name of Jesus Christ. The local church pastor has been serving in His church for a long time and has credibility with his community.
Friends, the church is the real peace corp. It is our responsibility to help people make peace with God and then to help them make peace with each other. God wants us to care about the problems He cares about.
Share the Vision
As you share this vision and mobilize the members of your congregation to get involved with personal, local, and global projects, changes will occur in their hearts. You will see a deeper commitment to your church and to missions.
Some of the resistance we have seen that may hold some churches back from the vision of PEACE is the fear that tithes will be diverted to missions. For a Senior Pastor who’s concerned about giving to the church, you need to help him understand the proven principle that giving breeds giving. When people get involved in missions and start giving generously to missions, overall giving to the church increases too. If the concern is about the spiritual growth of his people, help him understand how mission’s opportunities provide your church family with amazing opportunities to grow spiritually. When people go out to serve through missions, beautiful things happen inside them. There’s a spiritual richness when you’re serving non-Christians that you can’t find in some other ministries in your church or when just serving fellow Christians. There is also a life-on-life mentoring that can happen. Leaders from your church can take those whom they are discipling into situations where they can model complete dependence upon God, as is often the case in missions. Witnessing God’s miracles up close and personal happens most often in the mission field.
When you think about directing where you want to take your church members and attenders, remember that everyone in your church is on a missions journey. What is critically important is to serve your church family by helping each of them take their “next step” and celebrate each step that people are willing to take. If we truly want to mobilize our entire church family, then we must realize that there is no ideal model that everyone must mold themselves into. There is no place for judging people for what steps they are ready to take into missions.
When you clarify your vision, develop your strategy, and identify your action steps, you eliminate many of the barriers that people face as they consider getting involved in missions. You make it possible for everyone in your church to be excited about where they are on their journey. You make it possible for them to take their next step.
Like me, people in your church want to get involved in something that’s bigger than themselves. They are desperately hungry to be used by God—but they don’t often know how to make that happen.
Change Your Church
The Great Commission and the Great Commandment were given to everyone, not for just a small percentage of our church families or paid missions professionals. The truth is that if we commit our lives to Christ, we’re supposed to allow Him to use our lives to help a hurting world; it not only helps the hurting, but it helps us as Christians to live fulfilled lives. I know this will sound harsh, but the unfortunate reality in most churches is that we have a 2,000-year history of not following the Great Commission and Great Commandment.
But it is worth it! When your entire congregation becomes involved in missions, the whole church changes for the better. Churches see generosity, care, and compassion increase amongst church members. We have learned that giving to missions breeds giving in general and, at the same time, giving to missions and to the church goes up. Most importantly, we see congregations become more spiritually healthy and mature as their relationship with Jesus becomes more alive through their involvement in extending God’s love to others.
We serve God by serving others. That’s why Jesus said, “If you want to be great, learn to be the servant of all. “Ordinary people empowered by God making a difference together wherever they are.” It’s not for super saints or super talented people. It’s everyday, ordinary, average people, making a difference in our world. Anytime God tells us to do something, He always gives us the ability and the power to do it. The PEACE Plan is something we do together, working with and through local churches around the world. There is a lot of “they” in the world today, but we need to respond as if “they” are all “us,” because that’s how God sees things.
May God richly bless you and reward you on your journey.