I've been reading a book called The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The book has been out for a pretty good while and I've always wanted to read it. It's a challenging read because it is talking about things that we can do to cause trends to take off. As a follower of Jesus, I whole heartedly believe in the sovereignty of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. So as a church planter, it's a challenge to apply this tipping point principle without negating the necessary role of the Holy Spirit.
In the book, Gladwell is examining the nature of fashion trends, social trends and even criminal trends that begin to take on a life of their own. He explores the environments, people and circumstances surrounding those trends and what exactly happened to cause the trend to tip. What was the one thing, and in some instances, what were the several things that finally caused the craze to go viral? I think this is intriguing for me because I want so badly for the gospel to hit a tipping point in Tacoma. I really do. I understand that there will always be folks who reject the gospel. I know full well that we will never see every person in the world place their trust in Jesus. You can call me crazy, but I believe the Holy Spirit can still bring spiritual awakening in the hearts of humanity. I believe that God, in his power, and through his people, can take over a city with the good news of Jesus. I believe Tacoma can tip.
Do I have all the answers? No. And Gladwell doesn't claim to either. I can't stress enough that the tipping point for the gospel happens according to the will of God, in his timing, and through his Spirit. But I also believe God uses our obedience in this process. And our obedience as The Pathway church is displayed through the reproduction of Intentional Communities. You've all read or heard me talk about our IC's before. We currently have 4 IC's gathering, living life & doing mission in various parts of the city. Now in my "church" experience, the way new groups usually start is by finding a teacher and having some sort of sign-up event. Many churches will re-start their groups every quarter or every semester. They meet together for a specified period of time, and then they can either "re-up" or they can find another group.
But that's not Intentional Community. The life of an IC is similar to that of a family. It gathers together, it stays together, it grows spiritually together, it plays together and when it reaches maturity, it reproduces... naturally. When an IC is functioning in a healthy way... growing together in communion with God, living together in biblical community, and going together on mission, it will grow. Just as a mama's belly grows before it gives birth, so will an IC grow in depth and number... swelling... until it has to reproduce. No sign-ups needed. Just Holy Spirit enabled growth... similar to what is described in the book of Acts.
Don't get me wrong, this doesn't happen easily and I'm not exactly sure when the tipping point comes. But I do know it starts with reproduction. We've been striving & praying to develop this kind of reproducing environment for years as a church. And it just hasn't tipped yet. But we have seen it happen. And right now one of our IC's has swelled to the 9 months pregnant point if you know what I mean, and it must reproduce. In some ways it's a sad time. Because when you reproduce, you're also saying good-bye. A new family is started. You'll always be a part of the same bigger family. Just as families get together on holidays and special occasions, our IC's still gather together on Sunday mornings and other times. But it's time for the new IC to grow, spread it's wings, and work towards the beauty of reproduction itself.
I'd like to ask you to pray for 3 things with us...
1) Pray for this new IC that's being born. Pray for it's leaders, those who are being sent out and those who are being left behind. Pray also for those that this IC will reach with the gospel.
2) Pray that God would lead us to the tipping point of reproduction. We don't just want to reproduce in an addition sort of way... one new group every couple of months. I'm the father of twins... I'm the husband of a twin & the uncle of twins. I have experienced the awesome power & joy of multiplication in a personal way. And that's what we want for our IC's... multiplication.
3) That leads to the last request. We want our IC's to multiply because we long to see the tipping point for the gospel in our city. Please pray that the gospel would saturate Tacoma.