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February 22, 2017
The Joy and Cost of Multiplication
Elder Letter by Derick Sherfey
History tells us that a lot of farmers in Oklahoma in the late 1930s faced a harrowing choice. During the 1920’s a lot of these farmers had left their factory jobs in the Northeast for a chance at fortune in the fertile fields of the great American Midwest. But in 1931, a huge decade-long drought commenced. By 1939 only a few farmers remained there... and many had just enough grain left to feed themselves and their families for another year.
This dilemma required a risky decision to be made: do we live by what makes sense in this moment and hold tightly to what little grain we have left out of fear of the potential loss? Or do we see today in light of the bigger picture and risk everything we have by planting the seed, realizing if we never let the seed go we will never reap a harvest? The story ends with good news: in the fall of 1939, the rains came and those who had planted reaped a huge harvest.
Okay, why the little history story? What if the principles of risk, reward, sacrifice, and perspective of this story are everyday realities of what it means to follow Jesus as His Church?
Here’s the thing: Our God is calling a people to Himself from every people group of this world whom He has purchased with His own blood. We as Tri-Cities Baptist Church are a small part of this global family that spans throughout history and are invited and commanded to join our King in this grand, glorious purpose. We are the “sent ones” on this mission of the multiplication of the gospel, disciples, leaders, and churches for the glory of His name. It is who you are. Church planting is just one of the ways we at TCBC are seeking to be faithful to the command of our Savior and to steward the privilege and responsibility we have been given.
We are not faithfully obedient if we are not multiplying.
But multiplication will cost us.
If we are going to be a church relentlessly focused on our mission, it will mean costly sacrifice and a surrendering and letting go of all things so we can embrace all Jesus is. Just like those early 20th century farmers, we have a more eternally significant choice to make about how we will live our lives and the decisions we will make:
Will we play it safe, holding tightly to our lives out of fear from the uncertainty and what makes most sense or is most comfortable now?
Or will we choose to be captured by the worth of our God, compelled by His gospel, committed to His church, and confident in His promises, choosing to “let go” and sow the seed of our lives and the Word for God to receive the praise He deserves by the lost being found, disciples made, and churches planted?
If you have not heard yet, God has called my family to be the next ones to be sent out this year from Tri-Cities Baptist Church to give our lives to this; planting churches in a major city in the United States (visit our website theoakschurch.net). Many have asked why we would do this. The answer is certainly not because it’s easy or convenient. It definitely is not because my wife and I are unique or more godly or committed than anyone else. We have been gripped by the gospel and the life of what Jesus has called us all to:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” –Jesus, Matthew 16:24-26
If you hold your life tightly, you lose everything. If you let it go, you find true life because real life and joy and ‘abundance’ is found only in Jesus.
I cannot tell you how thankful I am to be one of your pastors and part of this church. It is humbling for my family to be commissioned and sent out by you soon. I am so proud to be part of a church willing to invest deeply in multiplication of churches. Our next step with church planting is not just about the Sherfey’s, it is a small piece of our church living on mission together.
This Sunday both campuses gather together in one room at the Gray Campus for the culmination of Impact weekend where we will be talking about your part to play as members of a multiplying, sending Church!
I am praying for all of us to truly live with our "yes" on the table before we ever know the specific question God may ask of us. Jesus does call us to surrender, but when we see who He is, all the “risks” of letting go and multiplying our lives really is no risk at all. He is worth it and Jesus will build His Church, in our region and around the world. May we go and send with boldness and joy!
All glory be to Christ,
Derick Sherfey has served on staff at Tri-Cities since 2011 and currently serves as our Johnson City Campus Pastor. He is married to his wife Cayla and they have a son named Beau.