A vision becomes a goal when we put a date to it. Until we put a date to the vision, it is only “blue sky.” A true vision will have both the happy by-and-by and the nasty now-and-now. In other words, the vision will have lofty platitudes and lowly practics.
When Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, and I launched the Billion Soul Network, we cast the vision of “five million new churches for a billion soul harvest.” We made plans to host the first-ever Beyond All Limits Conference at First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida, in January 2002. Four months before the conference, however, the infamous 9/11 attack took place in New York City. Many leaders told us to cancel the conference. Some personally called me to say, “Not many will come because they are afraid to fly.” But Dr. Bright told me, “If we cancel, we will never know what our Lord could have done.”
One leader, who I will leave nameless, called me to say, “Why do you think you can get pastors to show up? We have had annual national prayer meetings, and only a few hundred people attend. You will not be successful. You should consider cancelling.” When you attempt to climb your “Everest,” there will always be people who try to discourage you or undermine you! They would rather you fail or not try, so they don’t have to step up their own “ministry game” in the days ahead.
On January 24-26, 2002, Dr. Bright and I hosted the Beyond All Limits Conference in Orlando. More than 5,000 pastors and leaders attended from all 50 U.S. states, every Canadian province and more than 20 nations. Standing before these leaders, we cast the vision of “five million new churches for a billion soul harvest” in our generation. During the conference, we also stated that the future training of pastors and leaders would primarily be done via Internet. One well-known leader said to us, “This will not work! As long as we live, places like Oceania will not have Internet.” I guess he was slightly off with that prediction, wasn’t he?
On September 20-22, 2005
, we hosted the first-ever Global Church Planting Congress in Dallas, Texas. We invited more than 500 Christian leaders to synergize their efforts together for the planting of five million new churches for a billion soul harvest by 2020. We connected, communicated, collaborated and committed to do our collective best to double the size of the church in our generation. Since the launching of that “Billion Soul Initiative” in Dallas, 4.9 million new churches have been planted and 980 million people have been saved
. By the time the Synergize 2020 Pastors & Leaders Conference convenes on January 28-30, 2020, in Orlando, Florida (www.synergize.tv
), we will have passed the goals set 15 years ago!
As we moved toward the Wittenberg 2017 Congress, held on October 30-November 1, 2017, in Berlin and Wittenberg, Germany, we changed our name from Billion Soul Network to the Global Church Network. Actually, the name change took place on the exact day of the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses on Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. We updated the name to reflect what the network has become over the years. Today, the Global Church Network consists of more than 2,600 denominations and over 665,000 churches.
As the global church passes the “five million new churches” and “billion soul harvest” goals, the Global Church Network is running faster than ever to reach the FINISH line by 2030. We are stretching and striving to help complete the Great Commission by the 2000th Birthday of the Church. At the Wittenberg 2017 Congress, we collectively cast vision and made a commitment at the gravesite of Martin Luther to FINISH: Find, Intercede, Network, Invest, Send and Harvest by 2030.
How will we do this? The Global Church Network has established a 10- to 15-year visionary goal to mobilize and synergize the Body of Christ to reach the world’s remaining unreached people groups. We believe it can be done! We believe it must be done!
The Global Church Network believes that every church, regardless of its size, and every Christian, whether known or unknown, can add value to the entire Body of Christ. The Global Church Network is not exclusive but inclusive. Jesus Christ did not die for a percentage, but for the whole world. He did not die for just 1 billion people but for all 7.7 billion people on the earth. Let’s win them all, together!
If we are to finish the Great Commission, we cannot care who gets the credit, as long as God gets the glory. We must move from “me” to “we” if “they” are ever going to hear about “Him.” The Global Church Network is not about egos and logos, but about souls, souls and souls!
We have to realize collectively that the Great Commission will never be completed only by proclaiming the Gospel via crusades, literature, compassion, satellite, radio or Internet, but also by planting churches. Until churches are planted in every unreached area, the devil has a stronghold that defies Christ. Wherever Christians are silent, the devil roars.
The late Adrian Rogers told me, “James, it is not whether you know the devil, but does the devil know you?” The Global Church Network is about placing the global vision in the hot halls of hell and announcing to every demonic force: WE WILL FINISH THE GREAT COMMISSION IN OUR GENERATION! It is about emptying hell to fill up heaven.
The Global Church Network is not about adding but multiplying; not about taking longer but actually finishing the Great Commission sooner. In the next 10 to 15 years we will strive to FINISH the Great Commission by the 2000th Birthday of the Church.
This is the global challenge of our generation. We call this FINISH 2030
By 2042, there will be more than 9 billion souls on this planet. The Global Church Network is about doubling the size of the global church and getting ahead of this explosive population curve. We have to pick up the pace. If we do not collectively act now, we will miss this opportunity, and it will take several more centuries to fulfill the Great Commission. But together, we can make it more difficult each day for a person to go to hell, and help save billions from being eternally lost.
The Global Church Network needs everybody working together. We don’t need elbows jostling for position. We need hands, hearts and heads serving for the greater good. In 2001, I coauthored Beyond All Limits: The Synergistic Church for a Planet in Crisis with Dr. Bill Bright. Synergy is at the core of the Global Church Network. We can do more with less by multiplying our efforts through working together. It is not just about leadership, but relationship.
Completing the Great Commission is not about money; it’s about motivation. The global church has enough money, enough Christians, and enough time, talent and resources in the Kingdom of God. The reason we have not finished the Great Commission is that we are not motivated. Some would rather turn inward to fight one another than turn outward to fight alongside each other. The problem is not a “how to,” but a “want to.”
A century ago, if a missionary missed a ship, it was a missed opportunity by years. Through perilous travel, intermittent communication and meager resources, they forged ahead with a rallying cry, “BRING BACK THE KING!” Where is the passion with which they cried bitter tears for those dying without Christ? Where is the heart tug that pulled them to brave any voyage, skirt no jungle and fight harder with each mounting difficulty?
The words of past generations on whose shoulders we stand still echo in the heavenlies, “BRING BACK THE KING!” The world itself is calling, “Give us Truth!” We cannot bring back those who would bring back the King. We alone are the stewards of those to whom we are called: our own generation.
Today, over 2.5 billion people on this planet are still considered “unreached” by the gospel. Over 2.5 billion do not know the meaning of Christmas or why we celebrate Easter. They don’t have a church within walking distance or even one verse of Scripture to read. If a small group of executives can work together each year to make “Mickey Mouse” the most recognized name on Earth, surely the Church, with 2 billion Christians, can finish spreading the Name Above All Names, “JESUS CHRIST”! But it must be all-hands-on-deck to save the lost. A Church that is not winning the lost is lost itself.