Church and Home
Gaining by Losing
By Jeff Goodman
Seven years ago, The Springs Church did not exist. It was a calling— an idea, a hope, and a giant leap of faith. Our team was petrified but excited about what God might do. Seven years later, after many struggles and challenges, God has amazed us, faithful to build His church here in Marana, Arizona.
Today, we have three Sunday morning services and are currently averaging over 300. New faces walk through the doors each week, and God continues to be on the move. Our worship is powerful, the Spirit of God fills the room, and the truth of God’s Word is preached. Lives are changed, people are saved, and we are growing, but it is not enough.
I have always thought the best way to grow the Kingdom was by bringing people to your local church. Yes, that is good, but it is not enough. Simply adding to your own church is not enough. Addition is not enough. We need multiplication.
God, through his guiding Spirit, has used His Word, The Exponential Conference, Vision Arizona, like-minded pastor friends, and especially the book Gaining by Losing by J. D. Greear to help me to see what’s really important. Many of the thoughts in this article come from reading this book.
God has called us to multiply His Kingdom. He has called us to take the blessings He has given us and surrender them to Him. We are to plant the seeds God has given us and give so He can bless them, grow them, and bring a harvest for His Kingdom. Planting involves risk, because when you give seed away, it’s no longer yours to use and consume; it is God’s to do with it as He sees fit.
I must confess, for much of our time here, I focused only on growing our church, making it bigger, and being successful. When people ask, “How’s your church doing?” often they are asking how many people attend your church. But God’s ways are not our ways. In his book, J. D. Greear notes, “God does not care about our seating capacity, He cares about our sending capacity.” If we stay focused on God’s call to multiply his Kingdom, church growth would not be a problem, because Jesus will build His church.
So what does gaining by losing look like? Well, I am new at it; we are still praying daily for God to guide us in how to best use the seeds He has given us. One of the things we are doing is partnering with a church plant directly behind us. We pray for them, hold joint services, help them financially, and plan events together. We recently partnered for the annual Trunk or Treat outreach event, and more than 4,000 people showed up. It was amazing.
At Christmas, we received a special offering and gave their church $1,000 for outreach. Their finances are tight, and we know what that’s like. A few weeks later, after our Sunday morning services, I received a text that said, “We used your funds to promote a special service. We had 76 in attendance” (double their usual attendance). The note went on to say, “12 rededicated their lives, and two were saved.” We rejoiced with our brothers and sisters, the Kingdom was multiplied, and that is a win!
Another way we give away our seeds is by working with those in our church who may have a ministry outside the church. One is the Kairos Prison Ministry. We bake many dozens of cookies for prisoners. Every prisoner and staff member gets six cookies, and over four days, we minister to these prisoners and God does amazing things. Last year, a Muslim man gave his life to Christ. That is a win! Even though it does not impact our church directly, the Kingdom of God has grown.
Seven years ago, we had no musicians and no music, but we met a group called Worship Catalyst, and they poured into us. They did not know us; they owed us nothing, but they gave us a $6,000 sound system and worked with us for years to develop our music. Today, we have two full bands; we even have a viola player. We need two bands for three services (especially since we are heading toward a fourth service), but we are beginning to talk with Worship Catalyst about how we can use our “spare” musicians to help other church plants. That means “giving away” our best musicians, risking that God may call them away permanently, to play at that new church plant. It is easy to nod our heads and say, “this is great,” but what about when it really hurts, when you lose some of your best resources, your most gifted musicians, or your best teachers. What do you do when God calls them to GO?
It hurts, and it hurts deeply. I have never cried so much, experienced more fear, or felt more loss than when God called my best friend and teammate Josh Bennett to plant a church in Tifton, Georgia, a joint effort between North American Ministries and the Georgia State Association. This is a loss so deep I cannot even express it in words. We have been together for 17 years, and it has been an amazing journey.
Do I miss him? Yes! I miss talking to him, planning events, going on Costco shopping trips, laughing, and celebrating wins. I truly miss all the things Josh did as he ministered here, especially his football sermon illustrations. But it will be okay, because we have eternity to talk about all God did to multiply His Kingdom. Josh is not leaving us; we are sending him out to plant another church that will one day plant another church.
Josh is not the only one. Recently, we sent Cassie, our most talented keyboardist and amazing vocal singer to intern at a church revitalization project about 14 miles from our location. The pastor needs help with music; they run about 50 and cannot afford to pay much, so we will help cover some of her pay as well. We will truly miss her, but we must develop leaders willing to go.
Multiplication must be in our DNA; it is God’s mission, and it must be ours too. But this is still not enough. As a denomination, we must understand we are called to multiply God’s Kingdom. It is not just the responsibility of North American Ministries to plant churches. Churches must plant churches, and those churches must plant additional churches. At all costs, we must give away our best for the Kingdom. We must worry more about our sending capacity than our seating capacity.
It is not wrong to grow our churches, but it is wrong to hoard our resources and keep them for ourselves. We win by giving away our best.
Josh, you were our best; you are my best friend. I am so thankful to have shared this journey with you, and I am excited to see what God is going to do in Tifton, Georgia. One thing is certain. God is going to multiply His Kingdom! By the way, Josh, you better send me some boiled peanuts.
About the Writer: A Southern Illinois native, Jeff attended Welch College and pastored in Georgia for ten years before moving to Marana, Arizona, to plant a church. He and his wife Heather have one daughter, Ava. Learn more: www.FWBNAM.com