EASY AS P.I.E.
The church I attended as a kid hosted the most wonderful treat you can imagine: pie socials! Every woman in the church brought her best creation for a sweet feast of fruit, sugar, meringue, and whipped cream, all inside homemade flaky crusts. I can still remember some of my favorite delicacies.
This year the leaders of the church where I preach have decided we should sponsor a pie feast, too. But our plan will offer something better than desserts. Our approach is no fat and calorie free, and the sweet tastes it promises will last for eternity.
We’ve chosen the acronym PIE to summarize our strategy for achieving our church’s mission, “Redeeming us back to God”:
The simplicity of this strategy will help us keep laser focus on what matters most, reaching as many as possible who don’t know Jesus.
It’s easy for a church to get off mission, to take up many good things that may not help us achieve the best thing. It’s easy, unfortunately, for a church to begin focusing on itself instead of the thousands all around who haven’t discovered the peace and purpose offered only by God. Sometimes we want to make achieving the church’s mission complex. What I have learned over the years and even recently is this simple truth: Complexity Brings Confusion And Chaos, but Simplicity Saves Souls. Good PIE is not complicated and full of tons of ingredients. The best PIE is simple and great to eat…here is how we are making it simple.
Pray for one.
Just one. All of us know one person who doesn’t know Jesus and we wish they did. We don’t need to think about those “thousands” I mentioned in the above paragraph. Let’s each think about just one.
We tried this strategy several years ago with wonderful results. We know it will work, not only because we worked it but also because my friend, Bo Chancey, uses it where he preaches, Manchester (New Hampshire) Christian Church. In fact, he’s written a book to describe his approach at a congregation that now averages more than 4,000, the largest independent Christian church in New England.
Even the apostle Paul didn’t try to win a whole town of many thousands. He wrote the church in Corinth, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). “Some” starts with one. It’s simple.
We work hard to make our weekend worship services accessible and attractive to those who may still be far from God. We do this so our church members can invite their “one” to meet them there. However, inviting them to a church building isn't the first invitation we want people to offer. We want them to invite others into a relationship with them. We want them to invite them into doing life together. We want them to invite them into their homes, their yards, their families, and their lives. Once that has happened, then people earn the credibility and the opportunity to invite them to a Sunday morning worship experience.
But Sunday morning isn’t the only possibility. We have women’s Bible studies and Man Church and men’s outings and small groups and special events like Night to Shine, our annual special needs prom hosted by the Tim Tebow foundation. However, maybe the first several “invites” will be for a simple cookout at home or an activity for two families to enjoy together. There’s a myriad of ways to invite people into the story of God.
When that “one” decides to give his life to Jesus, there’s joy all around—for him, and for the Christian who invited and prayed for him. Really, there’s nothing else quite like it.
But that new birth is really only a beginning. Then begins the lifelong process of discipleship. We engage the new Christian with the body of Christ. There he or she finds models and maybe mentors. There he learns to explore God’s Word and tap its potential for meaning. There she discovers that church is not a place of judgment but a place of humility where we can figure out our messiness together.
Soon this engaged new Christian chooses his own “one” to pray for, and the process begins all over again. Meanwhile, the Christian who prayed for him has begun praying for another, and soon addition to the body of Christ becomes multiplication.
It’s simple. It’s sweet. We’re looking forward to making it work. And we can only imagine how fast the church would grow if every congregation were willing to eat some PIE.