By NACC President Alan Ahlgrim
I love clocks. I just did a count and discovered we have 18 clocks in our house. We have new clocks, old clocks, digital clocks, and satellite-controlled clocks. Given how many clocks we have, you’d think we’d never be late for anything. However, my wife and I often arrive just in the nick of time. But that’s OK because “timing is everything.”
According to Galatians 4:4, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” When God the Father sent God the Son, it was a time like no other. As a result, many secular historians have been left scratching their heads, unable to explain meaningfully the continuing impact of Jesus of Nazareth. Just how did a child born in a primitive time and place actually end up becoming the pivotal factor in history?
Well, as it turns out, not all time is created equal. As you may know, in the Greek language there are two words for “time”—chronos and kairos. Chronos is clock time, but kairos time is different. It is significant time, meaningful time, or opportune time. As Mark Buchanan points out, “In kairos time you ask, not ‘What time is it?’ but, ‘What is this time for?’” Kairos time serves a holy purpose. It’s a divine moment.
Our Divine Moment
Once again, “It’s Time!” That’s the theme for the 2007 North American Christian Convention. With this year’s gathering, you and I will be part of something that has the potential to radically reshape our brotherhood and significantly impact the future. By the grace of God the 2007 NACC isn’t going to be “just another good convention”; rather, we’re praying it will result in a radical reinvigoration of our commitment to church renewal, church planting, and kingdom expansion. We’re pulling out all the stops to make this a defining moment for many—a convention that will be truly catalytic.
It was 20 years ago that some began to actually dream about the doubling of our churches. Since then we have moved beyond much of the narrowness and negativity we had become known for. Back then the big question was, “How can we ever get any ‘move’ back in ‘the movement.’”
Nobody asks that question any more. Now we are becoming known for bold strategies, bright young leaders, an irenic and inclusive attitude, and even for dependence upon the power of God! We have even grown comfortable talking about hearing from God and being led by the Spirit of God. And we mean it! To some it almost sounds like the early days of our movement.
Dr. Joe Ellis discovered that in the early days of our movement we were starting 1,000 churches per year. That’s 20 new churches per week. That’s three every single day! If we were able to return to that exciting time of Restoration history, we could not only plant 5,000 new congregations, but even see tens of thousands started in our lifetime. Massive church planting is not out of the question. But why is it so important?
Five Big Reasons
• Peter Wagner got it right 20 years ago: new churches are the most effective way to reach new people for Christ. He said: “New church planting is the best means of evangelism under Heaven, bar none.” It cannot be stated strongly enough. As many have observed, we could even double the number of churches in this nation, and still be far from the mark of “over churching” the country.
• New churches are the most effective way to reach younger people. Studies show new churches are predominantly populated by those born within the last 50 years, many within the last 25 years. Newer churches usually reflect a spirit of vitality and flexibility and creativity that serve as a magnet for younger age groups. While older churches tend to grow more through transfer growth, younger churches tend to grow more through conversion growth, as well as transfer growth.
• New churches are the most effective in reaching those who feel disenfranchised from established churches. The dreams of a new ministry often attract people who have been sitting on the sidelines assuming there was no room for them in the game. New churches tend to attract a disproportionate number of dreamers and a disproportionate number of doers—people who are not content merely with being consumers, people who long to be contributors.
• New churches are better at developing new leaders. New churches motivate and unleash leadership. When the positive pressures of a new ministry are applied, some brilliant diamonds appear. It’s amazing and refreshing to see how God often brings out the best in a fresh fellowship of people committed to his kingdom cause.
• New churches bring new life. Just as a child activates an entire family, a new church activates the larger church family. When First Christian Church (now LifeBridge Christian Church) of Longmont, Colorado, gave birth to Rocky Mountain Christian Church 23 years ago, some thought the mother church would suffer. Instead, one congregation of 700 or so has become two congregations totaling 6,000—and that in a community of modest size! That’s what led Dale McCann to quip, “Healthy babies produce healthy mothers!”
One of the best ways for congregations to experience new life is by prayerfully investing in starting “reproducing churches.” That’s why Rocky Mountain Christian Church invests $100,000 per year in new churches nationally and another $100,000 per year internationally. That’s one reason God has continued to pour out his blessing on us.
Jesus said: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). That is true for each of us personally, for each of our families, for each of our families of faith, and for our entire fellowship. As we keep saying at RMCC, “We are blessed to be a blessing!” And there’s no better time to move to the next level of blessing than right now. I believe this is a time like no other. As Ravi Zacharias recently said, “I have never sensed a more momentous occasion than now!”
For Any Ministry
Have no doubt; the convention in Kansas City will be historic, exciting, and inclusive. And while we’ll permeate the convention with inspiring stories (especially from new churches), the program will be highly relevant to all churches. Let’s face it, the same principles necessary in starting new ministries are equally valid in reinvigorating any ministry!
The theme for 2007 is from Acts 1 and 2: “It’s Time!”. . . Time to Listen Up . . . Time to Speak Up . . . Time to Get Connected . . . Time to Reach Out . . . Time to Risk . . . Time to Celebrate.
Each of the six main messages will unpack a different portion of this. And all of the main session speakers will in some way connect with our timely theme, including Bob Russell’s closing challenge.
By the final session of the 2007 convention, we expect everyone to be energized and inspired. We’ll celebrate what God has done in the past, what God is doing in the present and especially what God is getting ready to do in the future. God is far from finished with us; the best days of our lives and the best days of our brotherhood are not behind us.
The very best days are yet to come! Join us in Kansas City, July 3-6, and you’ll discover . . . “It’s Time!”
Alan Ahlgrim, minister with Rocky Mountain Christian Church, Niwot, Colorado, is president of the 2007 North American Christian Convention.