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7300 Smithfield Rd, North Richland Hills, TX 76182

May 23, 2018

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Wellspring Stories: Learning to be a disciple-making church

January 10, 2017

A new blog series that re-tells the stories that have shaped Wellspring Church

 

Decades ago the Lord appeared to a missionary named David Watson in a dream and told him he would plant 500,000 churches in his lifetime. Today, it appears that he might even surpass that. Independent audits have counted 350,000 churches planted since 1989, and between 6 and 7 million conversions. Such wild success did not come easy, however. After an initial tragedy cost him the lives of 6 team members, he wanted to give up.

 

My and David’s paths intersected after I read a book he wrote about the work God was doing throughout Africa, the Middle East, India, and all across Asia. With the assistance of Google, Twitter, and AT&T, I discovered that David lived near me—in Irving, TX—and I eagerly set up a lunch with David and one of my friends from church. At one point in the conversation my friend cautiously inquired, “With all do respect, the stories of conversions and miracles you tell are so ‘out there’… I just have to ask… really?”

 

David’s response was, “Come and See.”

 

So I did. Our Youth Pastor Zac and I joined David Watson for a ‘mission trip’ to the Ivory Coast. It wasn’t your typical mission trip. For three days we met with 30 men who collectively over the last 5 years had planted 10,000 churches. This was the closest thing to “Apostle Training” that I had ever been a part of. Over the course of a week, I interacted with all 30. I shook their hands. They told their stories. And for the first time, Jesus opened my eyes to see that He wasn’t exaggerating: the harvest really is white.

 

But that didn’t mean the labor would be easy. From start to finish, it has been fraught with pain. After 6 of David’s friends were martyred by the Bhojpuri people—the largest Unreached People Group in the world at that time—David and his family were expelled to Singapore[1]. His wife Jan says that for 6 months he was uncharacteristically depressed. He would hardly talk to people and spent each day in a dark room with an open Bible and a desperate heart. He prayed, “God, I didn’t sign up to get a bunch of my friends murdered. Our church planting methods are clearly not effective. If You want me to keep planting churches, You’re going to have to show me how from Your Word.”

 

Over the course of several months, David began to see things differently in the Scripture. He saw how some of the basic principles for disciple-making were both counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. His depression began to lift and his passion began to settle—so much that he returned to minister to the very people who murdered his friends.

 

Very slowly, he built a team of missionaries who were both willing to risk their lives and also to try something untested. After three years of labor, they had seen zero churches planted, and in fact, zero converts. The IMB was ready to pull support, but David asked for just a little more time. In year 4, they saw their first churches planted—8 of them! The next year saw 48 new churches, then 327 the year after that, then 526, and the next year saw more than a thousand. Understandably, the IMB had trouble believing these numbers.

 

So David’s response was, “Come and See.”

 

Two thousand years ago, “Come and See” changed the life of a few young men who went from there to change the world. In 2014, “Come and See” changed my life. It blew my paradigm for what it meant to be a disciple-making church, both in terms of strategy and possibility. Today, I long for Wellspring to become more of a disciple-making church, but now I see that a vision for my own church and community is far too small. Our grander vision is to see a disciple-making movement spread throughout the very diverse and populous city-center of DFW, and from there, to all the cities of the world.

 

If you’re interested in joining us on this journey, please comment!

 

 

[1] The reason they were expelled was related to the Gulf War.

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