You have to be in a curious state of mind when you mistake a highly fruitful and successful enterprise for some kind of failure because the goal is largely reached but not quite completed as envisioned.
Jeff Maples, and, subsequently, his alma-mater churchwatchcentral have published a post claiming that Phil Pringle is a false prophet because, over ten years ago, he projected a goal of reaching 1000 churches by 2020 having managed to achieve around 600.
One would be success
Now you would think that achieving over sixty percent and growing of such a difficult goal would be quite an achievement, but not for the Sanballat and Tobias tag team who stand on the sidelines and play down any successes as the kingdom is advanced by the faithful.
If we want to achieve anything significant in the name of Jesus Christ we have to have a plan and a projected outcome. We have to prayerfully consider the options, and boldly step out in faith. We need people to be alongside us to assist us with the vision.
We publicise this project amongst our stakeholders and put into motion the means by which we are going to achieve the goal. We may partially or completely reach the target, or even go beyond it. Any of these outcomes would be progress in kingdom terms.
It requires consistent, prayerful, bold leadership and decision making.
If we make it to fifty or sixty percent of the projected aims of planting 1000 churches we have actually made significant progress. 500-600 churches. That’s amazing. One would be an achievement.
When it comes to planting churches and building congregations, growing a movement by over 500 churches in around fifteen years is exceptional progress.
But people like the churchwatchcentral pseudonyms don’t look at successes. They are glass-half-empty people who only look at the fresh air in the glass and not at the substance that partially fills it. They don’t have the heart to accept another person’s progress. Theirs is a hat-tip to envy. As full-time critics, they achieve nothing whilst others till the vineyard. They are the space in the glass.
They look for negatives to emphasise and completely disregard the positives. Thousands of people have been converted from being sinners to saints in the space of just over a decade yet they look for those who have not yet been reached and focus on this as a failure rather than as part of the goal for the next ten years.
Don’t they realise that, if not reaching those souls is a failure, it is also theirs?
Projection is an aim
Further, these critics can’t tell the difference between a projection and a prophecy. They can’t decipher the contrast between the declared intent of one of God’s servants following His commandments to make disciples and a direct forecast from God.
God has spoken and He has commanded us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. That is His projection. We can also set goals on how we can best achieve His purposes in our lifetime.
Do the critics think for one second that God is displeased at all because 650 churches now make up part of the C3 family and the other 350 that are proposed have not yet quite eventuated?
Is God regarding the 650 or the 350? Is He looking at what is or at what might have been? Is He looking at the faith that achieved what has been accomplished, or those that have not yet been built? I put it to you that God is still interested in the faith that is pressing towards the outstanding 350.
He is pleased with faith (Hebrews 11:6). We mustn’t stop believing even if that time period has run out. It’s about pressing on, not dwelling on what hasn’t happened yet. We still need to go for these souls we are believing for.
They are still out there. They simply haven’t been reached yet. The people are still in need of a church to be planted, or a congregation started in their region. The goal remains intact. The timing is peripheral.
Oggling the google-god
2020 is a Gregorian calendar date. It has nothing to do with God’s time-table. It is a human construct, useful in terms of setting goals and keeping appointments. God is pleased by faith, not schedules.
Meanwhile the critics sit in their ivory towers looking out into the random-sphere of their google-god and making judgments about the enterprising, having made little or no effort whatsoever themselves to plant a single church anywhere. No. They are too busy moaning about those who are going about their Father’s business in building the Church.
Here’s a challenge for the critics. Let them see, over the next decade, should the Lord tarry, how many churches they can plant between them. Jeff Maples claims to be an evangelist. How many congregations will he reach and help establish in the next ten years? Let him put that number up now and see if he comes anywhere near reaching that goal.
If he says he’ll plant five churches in that decade, and he genuinely tries, but only reaches two individuals for Christ, we won’t say that he has failed. We will praise God because two people have been reached and have given their lives to Christ.
Why? Because the whole of heaven rejoices over one soul saved.
That is all we need to know.