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ExponentialHow You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement
By Dave Ferguson Jon Ferguson
ZondervanCopyright © 2010 Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneYOU The Beginning of a Movement
A missional movement can start with you.
* Our Dream on a Napkin
* The Story of Community Christian Church
* Five Reproducing Principles We've Learned
"You can do it." The moment I heard those simple words-"You can do it"-it was like someone had reached inside my soul and flipped on a switch. What had seemed impossible just moments before was now suddenly possible! Before you finish reading this chapter, I want you to have that same experience. I believe that sometime during the next several pages, God will reach inside your soul and convince you that what might seem impossible is possible, what you think is improbable can happen, and what you may have thought was just a pipe dream may very well be a God thing. But before we get to all that, let me back up a bit and tell you a bit of my story.
OUR DREAM ON A NAPKIN
As a college student, I had way too much time on my hands. Together with my friends, I would spend hours inventing games and pulling pranks on underclassmen, just to pass the time. "Lang Hall Fall Wall Ball" was a game we invented that combined handball and dodgeball and was played in the hallway of Lang Hall. Though it does absolutely nothing for your GPA, a small rubber ball and a dormitory hallway can provide hours of entertainment and competition. When we weren't playing games in the hallway, we'd think of creative ways to fool unsuspecting freshmen. One of my favorite pranks in those years was sneaking into rooms and setting clocks five hours ahead, getting our helpless freshmen roommates to believe it was 6:00 a.m. when it was really 1:00 a.m. We'd laugh our heads off watching them shower, dress, and head out the door to the cafeteria, only to find it closed. But those years weren't just a time for playing games and wasting time. We also did our share of dreaming in college. Not just daydreaming through our classes but also really dreaming big about how God might want to use us.
A few years after graduating, I was sitting in Potter's Place, this little dive of a Mexican restaurant in downtown Naperville, thinking back on those college years. Together with my college roommate, Scott Alexander, my brother, Jon, and his friend, Darren Sloniger, we had just started Community Christian Church. The four of us had shared a common dream-reaching out to the Chicagoland area. We knew that it would take a very "complicated" strategy for us to actually reach all eight million people in the greater metro area of Chicago. So to get started, we had taken a map of Chicago and pinned it to a bulletin board on our dorm room wall. Then we divided Chicago among the four of us in the room and devised an innovative and "sophisticated" strategy for taking the entire city and the suburbs for Jesus. Each of us agreed to take a fourth of the metro area and accepted the mission of reaching a mere two million people. At the time, it was a grand idea and we were completely naive, but we actually believed it was possible.
As I sat in the Mexican restaurant that day remembering the God-sized dreams that had led us to plant our church, it got me dreaming again. So I pulled out a napkin and sketched out a completely new plan. I drew Lake Michigan, filled out the boundaries of the city of Chicago, and then began to draw circles, each representing different churches-possible sites of Community that would be scattered all over the Chicago area. I was beginning to get a sense of a fresh vision, looking beyond my dream of four individuals dividing up a city to a dream of one church with many locations reaching various parts of the Chicagoland area. I thought about what I had drawn, then folded up the napkin and slipped it inside my journal.
That napkin stayed in my journal for the next four years. To be honest, I never showed the napkin to anyone and basically kept it to myself. Then one morning I was having breakfast with my friend Larry. Larry was a very successful entrepreneur. He drove a light blue Mercedes and was always dressed to the nines. In some ways, the trappings of wealth and the several businesses he had started impressed me. Larry was also finding his way back to God, and he had expressed some interest in how we did church. Even though he was still growing as a Christian, he was able to see some parallels between his entrepreneurial endeavors and how we had started our church from scratch. About halfway through my scrambled eggs and bacon, Larry asked me a very direct question. "So Dave, what is the dream?" He paused for a moment, and then he added a real zinger that I wasn't expecting. "If you could do anything, what would you do?"
There was silence on my end. I began thinking to myself, "Do I really tell him my dream? What if he thinks I'm crazy?" Even though it may seem innocent, a question about someone's life dream is really very personal. I knew that if I were to answer the question honestly and tell him the truth about my dream, it would be out there and I'd feel like I had to own it. I'd be forced to pursue it. So I didn't respond right away. I was afraid.
But Larry was persistent, and after a few seconds he asked me again, "Dave, what is the dream?"
And in that moment, for the first time in four years, I pulled out the napkin from my journal. I unfolded it on the table between us and said, "Larry, if I could do anything, this is what I would do." Larry looked at the napkin for a moment, looked up at me, and then said something that was simple yet life-changing.
"Dave, you can do that. Yeah, I can see you doing that."
Each of us has that moment in our life when we can look back and see that from that point forward, everything changed. And if I were to point to a single moment when everything changed for me, it would be that moment sitting at breakfast with Larry. With those simple words, everything went from off to on. What had just moments before seemed impossible was, for some strange and unexpected reason, now possible in my mind. I left our breakfast meeting that morning truly believing that the dream God had given to me would somehow come to life.
"YOU CAN DO IT"
I don't know if anyone has ever said those words to you before. If not, let me be the first: "You can do it." Yes, I'm talking to you. Yes, you-the one holding this book in your hands, the one reading the words on this page. I want you to hear this and believe that as sure as the day you were born, God has birthed within you a dream.
You may even have a hunch about that dream. Or maybe you are still searching and have yet to discover it. Perhaps, like me, you've tucked the dream away for the last several years and have not had the courage to say it out loud. You haven't talked about it with anyone. It might even seem a little foolish to you. Regardless of where you are at right now, I want you to hear those words again: "You can do it." If it were possible for me to sit across the table from you right now and speak to you face-to-face, I would love for you to hear those words personally spoken over your life.
Now, when I tell you, "You can do it," I don't want you to just take my word for it. I say these words to you because I want you to take Jesus at his word-to have faith in his word to you. Just before Jesus left this planet, he gave us, his followers, the mission of helping people find their way back to God. He promised us that we would have everything we would need to fulfill the mission he had for us: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Notice again what Jesus says about this mission. Reread the verse for a moment.
* Who does Jesus say will receive power?
* Who does Jesus say will be his witnesses?
* Who does Jesus say will accomplish God's dream of world redemption?
Jesus is quite clear as he speaks to his followers. He says "you." In other words, Jesus is saying to them and to us who follow him today, "You can do it." Sure, we have a million questions about how all of this will actually come true, but right now I want you to forget about the specifics and the details and just listen to what Jesus is saying to you. He is telling you that he wants you to do it. God is saying to you, to your friends, and to each of his followers, "You can do it." The movement that will eventually accomplish the mission of Jesus lives within you and me!
THE STORY OF COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The naivete of our college-dorm dream to reach Chicago would somehow resurrect itself every time the four of us got together. Each of us was leading ministries at various places scattered throughout the Midwest. Our conversations were often spontaneous. They would happen on the phone or when we would hang out together on the weekends. Eventually this group of four friends started meeting together to seriously plan the launch of a new church. One of our meeting places was the exotic Hen House Restaurant in Dwight, Illinois. It was there that we agreed on the specifics of a three-phased vision for Community.
Phase 1: impact Church
To be an impact church meant we would be a church that was relentless about impacting people who were living outside a relationship with Jesus. We were never interested in reaching people who were already attending church. Our intent was to reach people who were far from God. That is why our mission statement was "Helping people find their way back to God," and it has remained the same to this day.
Phase 2: reproducing Church
Even in the beginning, we weren't content with simply growing one large church that would reach a lot of people. We thought we could reach more people by growing big as well as reproducing over and over again. At that time, the idea of a multisite church was virtually nonexistent, and so we assumed that we would accomplish all of this by planting lots of new churches.
Excerpted from Exponential by Dave Ferguson Jon Ferguson Copyright © 2010 by Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson. Excerpted by permission.
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