Surprise, surprise! There’s another word that’s doing the rounds and can be added to the already large Christian dictionary, ‘LEGO’. I’m guilty myself of using this phrase multiple times in conversations with Christian leaders, pastors and missionaries.
But what is meant by this phrase?
Laying aside your ‘LEGO’ in my circles refers to the desire among leaders to lay aside their treasured logos and egos for the greater cause of Christ and for the sake of unity in the church or in a collaborative project. It’s a good phrase and is an essential reminder of a fundamental truth we all hold to – God’s Kingdom is more important than the sum of our little kingdoms! God’s Kingdom is enduring! God’s name and fame should become the ultimate goal of all our efforts.
The Advance Movement is a wonderful movement that embraces the principle behind this phrase, yet it is one that celebrates the ‘logos’—the unique stories behind each organisation, church, mission agency, charity and ministry. We’re better together, and God desires to use each person to reach everyONE, everyWHERE with the good news of Jesus!
I lead two Advance Groups on two continents: one in Johannesburg, South Africa and one in North America (Virtually). I love every moment we get to meet as members of these groups and it’s a beautiful thing to see each group take on a life of its own. My Advance Groups are comprised of pastors, missionaries, church planters, believers, seminary professors, non-profit leaders and the like. What binds us all together? The Gospel, along with the conviction that evangelism is an important priority we urgently need exercised in our cultural moment.
How has being part of an Advance Group impacted my life? Advance is simple, it is a movement that embraces high-accountability and low-control and it is centred on the person and not on any particular brand or methodology. Here’s a few areas Advance has enriched my life and ministry:
Community- Starting my own group has surrounded me with 10-12 others who are passionate about the Gospel and it’s outworking in all areas of life. I am challenged and enriched by the real conversations that take place around topics like prayer, character, humility, holiness, submission and more.
Culture- The word ‘evangelism’ has fallen on hard times and most Christians, leaders and pastors in my context probably wrestle more with this term and its practical outworking than they would care to admit. I have truly enjoyed seeing the culture around evangelism in my groups begin to change as we regularly speak about evangelism.
Celebration- Sadly I know many pastors who are often suspicious of other pastors and sometimes even see them as competition. I have been overwhelmed by the love on display within our group and the relationships that have been built up, fostering a spirit of unity and a deep respect for the call and ministry of each individual. We have the full expression of ministry that Paul expressed in Ephesians 4:11 evident in our group and this has served to enrich our lives and ministry. I get the sense that Heaven rejoices as we gather and as we celebrate our wins and champion one another!
Calling- What has perhaps impacted me the most in our group has been the way our calling’s are shaped and transformed through the relationships naturally formed in our group. One of the members serves as a leadership/ ministry coach and has been able to meet with members of our group and help them navigate the complexities of ministry and life. Another member of the group is at a Seminary and has been challenged to not neglect the preparation of evangelists in a space that’s often reserved for pastoral preparation. Another member in our group has started a citywide prayer movement to support the work of evangelism and church planting in our city. Another member has given half his time to focus specifically on supporting the work of evangelism throughout Africa, while still being rooted in his local church body. Encouraging? Deeply! And this is only the start.
As a leader in an evangelistic ministry, I cannot tell you what a wonderfully enriching experience it’s been to lead my Advance Groups and to see the culture around evangelism shifting in these local expressions. Imagine if this kind of experience could spread and become the norm! Imagine the cumulative impact of literally thousands of Advance Groups globally as we lay aside our LEGO and build His glorious Kingdom here on earth! It’s worth it! Join the movement and start your own group!