August 2018 Blog Theme: How to Launch Your Church into Making Disciples
Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, towering on top of the world at 29,029 feet. Over the years, it has captured the imagination and claimed the lives of many great climbers. Its beauty and mystique draw dreamers and adventurers every year. But no one simply charges to the top of this great mountain all at one time. It requires progressing through several base camps. Each camp carries its own challenges and rewards. To reach the summit you must first reach each base camp. The first stop, simply called “base camp,” sits at 17,700 feet. That’s approximately three hundred feet higher than any peaks we have in the continental United States.
The Hike up Mt. Everest
At base camp, you can hear satellite phones buzzing, journalists and explorers exchanging stories, and it is your first exposure to freezing temperatures. Just about everything freezes at this altitude—water, damp clothes, and even toothpaste. There is an excitement in the air and a feeling of anticipation as weather reports pour in and there is talk of possible avalanches. Some climbers will realize their dream of standing on the summit. Others will have to turn back, and some won’t make it home at all. The next stop is the Icefall (18,000-20,000 feet).
This place is filled with hazards. Deep crevasses yawn underneath your feet. Ice pinnacles dangle overhead. The entire area groans as if it could collapse at any moment. That is why most climbers just focus on getting out of there as quickly as possible. To make it through the falls you need to get there about 4:00 a.m.—any later and the ice could start melting and avalanches are possible.
This is an excerpt from the book Bold Moves by Craig Etheredge, which you can purchase here.
The next stop is Camp 1: The Valley of Silence (20,000-21,000 feet). This is a flat, deserted area covered with a blanket of deep snow. On the outside it is beautiful, but its beauty only masks the real dangers that lie underneath. The snow covers massive crevasses that open throughout the day. Pounding headaches and tired muscles test your body and endurance.
As you move through the valley, you are tied to your teammates with ropes. Staying together is critical to survival.
Next is Camp 2: Rocky Patch (21,000 feet). This place is “other worldly.” Clouds roll up from the lower ranges giving you a surreal feeling. Enjoy this place, because it will be the last time you will get a decent meal. Then there comes the Lhotse Wall (22,300–26,300 feet). This ice wall stands about 4,000 feet high—beautiful, but deadly. In order to climb this wall, you must use your technical climbing skills and the right equipment. Ropes, carabineers, and crampons are standard gear. The altitude begins to play tricks on your mind, slowing your response time and fogging your thoughts, so it is important to concentrate on your every move.
Then comes the Deathzone (26,000 feet). This camp sits on a plateau on the edge of the earth’s atmosphere. The sky is strangely dark blue. Space is within reach. At this point, the desire for success is gone; nothing matters but survival and oxygen. Everyone feels restless and weak. It is called the Deathzone because no life can survive long at this altitude. You grab a few hours of sleep and fluids and ready yourself for the summit.
Finally, the hour comes. At 11:00 p.m. you strap on your gear and head out into the night. In the distance you see a string of lights. It is the headlamps of climbers slowly moving upward to the top. It is completely silent. No one talks. Everyone is pushing their bodies to the limit, anticipating the view on the summit at the first break of dawn. You reach the south summit and around the corner is the zenith of Everest. Congratulations! You have reached the top of the world!
Jesus on the Mountain
Jesus gathered his disciples standing on the peak of another summit. From that vantage point he could see the nations sprawled out before him. There on that peak he gave his disciples a compelling vision—“Make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28.18-20). On that day, Jesus envisioned a church that would take the gospel to every nation and make disciples who would make disciples. He envisioned a church committed to multiplying and taking the gospel to the ends of the earth! Jesus’ vision was crystal clear and his vision hasn’t changed! His vision is our vision—to create a movement of multiplication.
In many respects this is our Mount Everest, our summit. We dream of the day when God uses our churches to ignite movements that transform people into thriving followers of Jesus. We dream of a day when we see men and women walk with God, reach their world, and invest in a few. We dream of a day when the influence of every church stretches across each city, each state, and around the world! That is what we go to bed dreaming about and get up thinking about—how we can play a part in the greatest cause known to man—Jesus’ disciple-making movement!
Just like Mount Everest, this summit is magnetic, inspiring, worth living for, and worth dying for—but at times it also appears distant, removed, and unobtainable. It’s tempting to think, “God could never use me to ignite a movement like this!” Just like Everest, climbing the summit of a disciple-making vision requires progressing through several “base camps,” each demanding their own sense of effort, prayer, sacrifice, and commitment. Be assured, each base camp is necessary. To read about each of these “base camps” and even “camp” itself—to use the analogy here—read chapter 7 of Bold Moves.
Written by Craig Etheredge
This blog is an excerpt that comes from our book Bold Moves, which you can purchase here.