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20 Years of PLI

Thanks for being in the PLI family. The 20 year old PLI family.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of PLI!

  • 20 years since the first pastors and spouses stepped into something they weren’t quite sure about but knew they needed.
  • 20 years since mentoring congregations lined up across the United States to intentionally invest in a next generation of leaders for the church.
  • 20 years since an enormous number of women began to discover they had unique gifts and passions that didn’t need to be shoe-horned into roles that fit someone else.

My goodness, how the landscape has changed in 20 years!

  • The mission field harvest is still already ready.
  • God is still a missionary God who promised His Son in Genesis 3 and delivered via Virgin birth in Luke 2.
  • The Spirit still transforms stubborn, sin-stained hearts to fill them with faith.

But now, 20 years later…

  • The Christian church has been pushed to the margins in most American communities.
  • The front doors of churches are unlocked and opened on Sunday mornings (oftentimes with security personnel to protect against armed intruders) but unbelieving people no longer come in.
  • Most denominations that were plateaued or in slow decline are caught in cycles of rapid decline.
  • The rest (of the world) sends its missionaries to the West (us!).

Seasons of incredible movements have bolstered and punctuated the church’s history:

  • Empowering networks
  • Baptized people of God as the missionaries of God
  • Enormous trust in God to provide for needs and protect from the Evil One
  • Willingness to risk and sacrifice for the spread of the Gospel

Look at the examples:

  • The Early Church!
  • Martin Luther and the Reformation! It unleashed a powerful movement when the church was being crushed by corrupt institutionalism. (We can’t even imagine the radical revelation of the “priesthood of believers”!)
  • The early decades of my own church body! The LCMS. (A new church was planted every other day for 40 years.)

Movements organize. Eventually they institutionalize. Institutions squeeze out the missionary movement that launched them.

Your church doesn’t need to submit to an irrelevant demise!

Most churches are missing missionaries today. Missionary leaders. Congregations in 3rd largest mission fields need missionaries to people in their communities that…

  • Can’t imagine our churches represent Good News to them.
  • Can’t imagine the Bible is an authoritative Word or Jesus as more than one religion’s alternative.
  • Can’t imagine why they’d walk through our unlocked Sunday morning front doors.

PLI’s mission continues to be to train and invest in multiplying missional leaders.

Leaders can’t give away what they don’t possess.

Most churches serve the faithful and make not much more than feeble missionary attempts.

(Ironically, wonderful people of God who long for a brighter future for their churches resist the missionary shifts that could result in a brighter future.)

So, Gail and I would like to invite you to come closer in this 20th anniversary year of PLI. We’ll occasionally look back and celebrate what God has done through PLI. But mostly lean forward, arm in arm, with faith and a deeply wedded conviction that God is eager to lead His church forward.

So, would you…

  • Take 20 minutes and discuss this blog and your congregation with several of your leaders. 1. Describe your “today.” 2. Describe what used to be 20 years ago. 3. Describe “what could be” tomorrow.
  • Look at the new PLI learning communities. If it’s time (and it probably is), contact Raechel today, and do whatever it takes to join a learning community that invests in a stronger future for your congregation.
  • Offer to invest 1000 Young Leaders in some gifted, godly young adults to become missionary disciples where they live, work and play. Tell them to contact our 1000Young Leader team. The next online cohort starts April 1. They might be the catalyst for a new missionary movement from your church.
  • Finally, this morning a learning community immersion starts for Ethiopian and Liberian immigrant leaders in the D.C. area. Pray for them today. They are the Rest being sent to the West!

This could be a season to trust that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!

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One Response

  1. Mary Doering says:

    I thank and praise God for PLI, it’ mission & God’s work being done for 20 years. We were so blessed and still are blessed by PLI. May God continue to bless the work of your hands/our hands as we work in God’s fields for HIS mission.

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