A little under a decade ago, God gave The Summit Church a vision of planting 1,000 churches by the year 2050. When we first verbalized that number, a lot of people thought it was a crazy idea, far too audacious. But when I look at the way the Spirit has instilled that vision in our leaders and in our leaders, I’m beginning to wonder if 1,000 might be too modest.

I received the following note from our International Missions Pastor yesterday. This is an incredible encouragement to me, and a challenge to us as a church to continue “opening our hands” to send out our best resource—our people.

Pastor J.D.,

This morning as I am preparing for a retreat for our International Missions Team, I am thanking God for what he has done over the past year through The Summit Church overseas—and I just couldn’t help but celebrate this with you. I know you’ve all seen the annual report, but I am truly amazed at the way God is choosing to use us among some of the most hard to reach people and places!

1. Summit Church Planters helped plant 72 new churches in 2015. Wow! That’s just short of doubling our international church plants in one single year. We are really starting to see a lot of multiplication happen, especially in South Asia. It’s staggering to watch.

2. 36 individuals were sent out from the Summit in 2015 to live for 2 years or more overseas. I am reminded almost every day that this is not normal. God is doing a work here and he’s just getting started.

3. We’ve begun one of our most strategic partnerships yet through Global Cities Intiative, which will open up new, intentional pathways for students, professionals, and retirees to join existing church plants in large city centers overseas. We’ve already got 2 families close to moving to South Asia, with many more in the pipeline.

4. We’ve opened up a new missions training pipeline starting with a basic “101” 5-week missions class … all the way up to a 6-month, intensive, cross-cultural discipleship program that ends with a trip to NYC to learn how to be effective overseas. We’ve already got 15 people in this brand-new 6 month program (still in the testing phase).

5. We’ve revamped our “Advocacy Program” which is our plan for providing quality pastoral care to every family we send overseas.

THANK YOU for leading The Summit Church to be a sending church — to love the nations. I pray that in the days to come, God will open our hands even wider and “release” us to send thousands more around the world through full time church planting, through business, through studies, through retirement, and many other creative pathways.

Praise God today for the way he has blessed us to be a blessing to so many around the world through sharing the gospel, making disciples, and planting churches.

Thank you for allowing me to lead the international missions team — I look forward to many more years like this as we ask God to do more than we could ever ask or imagine!

For more about getting involved in the mission of God, check out Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send, in which I talk about how to engineer your church around sending capacity, not seating capacity.