Twenty years of passion… and for all we know, this is just the beginning
I remember being asked a while ago what my favourite verse in the Bible was. How can you answer a question like that? The Bible is a living book which means that my favourite verse probably changes every day.
But on that occasion I said Ephesians 3:20: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power at work in us…”
Isn’t that an amazing truth? God is able to do vastly more, not just than the things we dare ask for out loud when we are full of faith, but even more than the desires and dreams of our hearts. And not only that but he chooses to do it in partnership with ordinary, frail, inconsistent people like me and you. I guess that’s our story over the last twenty years: God has consistently done more than we’ve asked for. In fact, often immeasurably more than our dreams. Why? Because the gospel is a seed, and when that seed is planted in someone’s heart and in their life it has unlimited potential for multiplication.
Who could have possibly thought that when we set up Message to Schools in Mark’s spare bedroom that over the next two decades we’d see millions of young people’s lives touched? Who could have thought that so many ministries would be initiated and that things would spread out all over the world? Well, it’s happened and it is totally to God’s glory.
Of course thinking about all this gives us great confidence and great excitement about the future. What we’ve experienced over the last two decades is a base from which God will once again delight in doing more than we ask or imagine. And I’m completely confident that if I could get a glimpse now of the 40th year anniversary book we would be astounded with all that God is planning to do through us!
Obviously I don’t know it all, but if I could use one phrase to describe the next season and the big vision of the Message it would be ‘the multiplication of disciples’. We are believing for so much more than young people giving Jesus a high five at our events; we’re believing for these seeds to be planted increasingly in good soil so that, as Jesus put it, they go on all the way with a good and noble heart and themselves produce a bumper harvest. There really is nothing more exciting than seeing that happen in the lives of people who once were some of the most broken that you could imagine.
There are three areas in the next season where I think this multiplication will take place.
Firstly, Genetik, our youth leader training scheme. It’s amazing to see the difference that can be made in a person’s life through one year of intensive worship, teaching and ministry, especially when it’s delivered alongside the opportunity to develop skills and put it all into practice day in and day out. In the next season we are really looking to step this up and be much more strategic by partnering with key friends around the world.
Our plan is to bring gifted young men and women to Manchester for a year and let them catch our DNA while they take part in our team life. We want to get them resourced with the right music, sketches, presentations and passion to take the gospel out all over the world. We will keep a strong link with these teams and do all we can to resource and encourage them as they go out. Our dream is that in the next years there will be dozens of Message associate teams all over the world.
The second key area of multiplication of disciples is Eden. In a few years’ time we will have nine fully functioning Eden hubs delivering dozens and potentially hundreds of Eden teams to bring transformation to our nation’s toughest estates. This network will have the potential to reach 95% of Britain’s most deprived areas, and hopefully it will start to develop other Message-type ministries up and down the country.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to see Eden giving birth to schools teams, bands and prison teams? If the area called for it, how about buses, enterprise centres and local training schools up and down the country? We want to do all we can to encourage and resource others who have a similar heart but who might be working outside of our particular Eden hotspots to deliver just that. Whether in the UK or abroad, we’re convinced that things are going to multiply.
Thirdly there’s our new enterprise hub, The Message Enterprise Centre. It’s still just a dream at the moment, and right now we’re concentrating on fundraising and starting to transform the building next door to something fit for purpose. But it’s a dream that I’m convinced God loves and as such I fully expect to see multiplication kick in: multiplication of kingdom businesses providing great jobs, multiplication of great ministries up and down the country and a multiplication of entrepreneurial disciples literally doing the business for him.
It’s all good stuff and there’s all the potential in the world. As the guy who leads it I’m so privileged to be able to say that I wouldn’t want to do anything else anywhere in the world for any amount of money.
How many people can say that with their hand on their hearts?