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The Rob Skinner Podcast: Helping You Make This Life Count

Nov 3, 2022

On this episode I answer the question: “How Can Our Family of Churches Grow to 1,000,000+ by the year 2050?”  Listen as I offer ten ideas for seeing our churches grow and flourish in the coming decades. 



How can the Kingdom grow to 1,000,000+ by 2050?

One of my dreams is to help the Kingdom grow to 1,000,000+ by 2050.  I’ll be 85 in 2050.  According to the life expectancy calculator provided by Social Security, I’ve got 25 more years.  That’ll take me to 82.  However, my Mom just died this year at the age of 97, so I might just make it to 85.  Here’s what I’d like to see when I’m 85:

I want to see churches all over the world in every large city, every mid-sized city and every small town.  I want to go to conferences that number in the 100’s of thousands.  I look forward to the day when meeting a new disciple, it takes more than a few degrees of separation to find someone we both know.  I look forward to the day when young disciples, in their early and mid-twenties are leading mission teams to new locations and seeing their churches grow.  I look forward to the day when every large metropolitan area has kingdom churches in every city within that metropolis.  I want to see a fired-up, growing family of churches that no matter where you go to visit, you’ll find a warm welcome and common culture of passion for Jesus, love for each other and a drive to grow spiritually.  That’s the church I was baptized into and that’s the church I want to die in.  How can we do this?  Here’s some ideas:

  1. Revive the pillar church planting strategy. In the early days of our movement, the idea was to plant a church in the major metropolitan centers of our world and then from there plant churches to that region.  That is why Paul could say in Romans 15:19, “So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” And in 15:17, “23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain.”  He hadn’t reached every person in the Mediterranean coastal area he had traveled.  Far from it.  However, he had planted churches in key regional cities; places like Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth.  He wanted to use Rome as a jumping off point to reach a new area in Spain.  Our family of churches has done an amazing job in getting churches to the metropolitan centers of the world.  The year 2000 plan was nearly accomplished in getting a church to every city of at least 1,000 in every country.  However, we need to fulfill that original plan.  The goal was from those metropolitan cities each smaller city and town would be reached.  We have so far to go in reaching small and mid-sized cities cities and towns in the areas we’ve already planted churches in.  The first stage might be completed, but in order to evangelize the world, we need move on to regional saturation.
  2. We need to redefine the goal to get one church in every city in every metropolitan area. The creed guiding our planting philosophy is one church in one city.  However, the way that has come to be interpreted is one church in one metropolitan area.  If we actually held to the idea of once church in one city, we would open the door to so much more growth.  For instance, according to Wikipedia, there are 88 cities in Los Angeles County each with a mayor and a city council.  That’s only in Los Angeles County.  The Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area is composed of five counties with a multitude of distinct cities within them.  What if we had a kingdom church in each one of those cities?  I’m reminded of Paul’s command to Archippus in Col 4:17,  “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”  I feel the burden to complete the ministry God gave me when he brought me to Tucson.  To reach the city and metropolitan area of 1.3 million souls.  I’m working on a plan to get churches to all the nearby cities and areas in this metropolitan area.  I want to see 10 or more churches planted by the year 2030.  My plan is to form a team of disciples and find a leader or leadership couple who wants to plant a new church.  I would move to that neighboring city or area with the leader and team and walk with him for a year or two.  I would still be leading the church here in Tucson but would live in that mission area and disciple that leader as he gets it off the ground.  After that I would move to another city or area not more than a 30 minute drive from the main Tucson church.  The church planting would not be a region or zone or house church but an independent church connected by a common love for God and his church.  We would work together to help get the entire metropolitan area reached.  I dream of the day when there are ten or more churches around this area of 1,000,000+ metro area.  We could have a church for each 100,000 people.  That would be awesome!
  3. We need to emphasize small church planting. Large churches grow slower.  They are amazing resource centers for wisdom, experience, money and manpower, but as a church grows larger, it becomes dramatically more difficult to grow a larger church.  More manpower and money is needed to simply maintain the membership that exists.  Leaders who lead large 500 member plus churches are going full-tilt to help their church grow.  But friction develops once a church grows past a certain size.  A positive example of this is the Flagstaff, Arizona church planting.  That church was planted last year in the summer of 2021.  It was composed of eight faithful disciples who had kept the torch burning dimly for several decades.  When Brian and Abby Mackie led the team and started the church it grew from that eight member kingdom frontier outpost to a thriving current membership of nearly 50 members in a little over a year.  It’s just easier to grow a small church than a larger church. 
  4. Raise up and send younger church leaders. Many of our existing churches were planted in the eighties and nineties by disciples who were in their mid-twenties, often just graduated from college.  I remember meeting evangelists who were in their mid-thirties and thinking, that guy’s old!  Today, a new leader is lucky if he can be appointed an evangelist by forty.  One of the reasons is many young leaders haven’t been given the opportunity to go out and plant a church or lead a small church on their own.  The rate of learning in a planting or small church is dramatically faster than leading in a region of an existing church.  Why?  The missionary has to do everything, every facet of church leadership.  He’ll make a ton of mistakes, but he’ll learn campus, singles and married leadership.  He’ll figure out children’s ministry, administration, location finding, contracts and event planning.  There is nothing he won’t face during the time he’s in that small church.  I was appointed an evangelist at the age of twenty five and I didn’t consider it unusual or premature.  Why?  I’d already planted a church in Portland, Oregon and had learned the exciting way what it takes to run a congregation.
  5. Promote the missionary gap year in our churches. The Mormon church is one of the fastest growing churches in the world.  Despite a doctrine that I would more closely associate with science fiction or fantasy novel, it has mastered a number of very effective practices that outweigh any doctrinal deficiencies.  For example they emphasize family building and expect every member to tithe.  However, the one I find the most worthy of imitation is their practice of sending off missionaries immediately after high school.  In 2019, the LDS church sent out 67,000 eighteen and nineteen year olds on mission around the world.  This has so many benefits including:
    1. It creates strong convictions in young disciples
    2. The years after high school are often the most tumultuous and tempting for many young disciples. Those who come back from a mission at 20 have matured and changed in those two years.
    3. We offer adventure and travel to our kids.
    4. You don’t need to be 30 to teach the gospel. The first principles series can be absorbed and taught by teens.
    5. It creates a youth culture that shares a common foundation of sacrifice for Christ.

When my son James graduated high school in 2013, I helped him arrange a missionary year spent in Tokyo, Japan.  We went back to where he was born, refreshed his Japanese, climbed Mount Fuji, made friends, made disciples and came back a transformed young man. 

What if we had a core of high-school graduates going on mission for one or two years?  We’d see the churches grow where they went, they themselves would grow and they’d come back firmly convinced in their faith.

  1. Examine and change our biases against smaller cities, towns and areas. One mindset that keeps us from taking the next step to a million or more disciples is the prejudice against small and medium sized cities and towns.  For many disciples, anything less than three million people in population is considered a “hick town” or the backwoods.  By that yardstick ancient Rome, with an estimated population of 1,000,000 in 100 AD,  would be considered a “flyover” city or a backwater.  I remember talking with a leader about my desire to save my homestate of Oregon.  He laughed and said, “Why would you want to go there?  There are more trees than people in Oregon!”  I’m glad I didn’t adopt his mindset.  Shortly after that I moved back to my hometown of 20,000 people and started a church without any financial backing.  I wasn’t thinking about how large or small the area was, I was thinking, I have to save my family at any cost to myself.  Current technology enables us to work remotely, stay connected and live anywhere we choose to.  There has never been a better time to reach every area for Jesus.
  2. Tap into our deep well of experienced leadership. There are so many former and current leaders sitting in the audience of churches around the world on any given Sunday.  Many of those could lead a church starting tomorrow.  Many disciples converted in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are now at the peak of their careers or planning for retirement.  While it’s wise to plan for financial retirement, it’s foolish to retire spiritually.  If you are 50 or sixty, you will probably live another 20 to 40 years.  That’s like a second career.  What if you used that to go on a mission team, strengthen a small church or lead a planting or small church.  There are churches all over who would love to have your level of experience benefit their congregation.  This could be the most effective and fruitful period of your life.  I love this scripture from Psalm 92:12-15: 

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

You can be fruitful at whatever age you are right now.  I have been going on campus four days a week this entire fall semester.  I’m studying the Bible with young men I’ve personally met.  Not one has indicated that 57 is too old for them learn from. 

Ken and Debby Burford retired from his law practice and led the Flagstaff mission outpost for seven years before the mission team was sent there.  They were the indispensable couple to lead and maintain that group of disciples until reinforcements came.

Gary Roberson is leading a church in Hilo, Hawaii with his wife, Christy.  He graduated from Harding University fifty years ago and he’s still preaching the Word and raising up a younger man in Brad Tamashiro.

You could do the same.  Don’t head to the gated community, the fenced in compound, go to the mission field and make your life count.

  1. Create a spring of mission funding. When I was a baby Christian, every Sunday I would look around to a young Congregation.  Tom Brown, my church leader was “old” at 35 years old.  Now when I visit other churches, it’s like going to a Journey concert, the people I see have graying or gray hair.  What we may lack in youthfulness, we make up for in money.  Most of those who form the backbone of our churches are in their prime earning years.  We have the money for missions.  We’ve never had more financial ability than we have right now to expand our churches to 1,000,000 and more.  What it will take is an intentional focus on funding new leaders training and new churches.  This is where money multiplies in souls saved.  When we planted the church in Flagstaff we held a special thank you dinner for mission supporters, those who had given exceptionally large gifts to get the church off the ground.  Though some couldn’t make it to the dinner, one did whom I’ll never forget.  It was Andrew Shay from Dallas, Texas.  He and his wife Leia had listened to this podcast, heard about the team and without solicitation sent a large gift.  His money has multiplied five times over the last year in the form of souls saved and growth in disciples.  What makes Andrew unique is that he’s not yet 30 years old.  What if every disciple who mature and well-employed had that same intentionality to advance the Kingdom.  We could get to 1,000,000+ or more disciples by 2050.
  2. Take a year off to advance the mission. Todd and Karen Schulz took a sabbatical year from teaching to serve in the mainland China churches.  They shared about their experience in my book, “Courage:  How To Make This Life Count.”  They spent time with Kelcy and JaLaine Hahn and it refreshed their walk with Christ.  You could do the same.  If you’re considering a break or if you’re in between jobs, why not go on mission domestically or overseas?  
  3. Go overseas to do mission work. It’s no secret that the fastest growing churches are not located in Europe or the United States.  The areas that are responding to the gospel most readily are generally located south of the equator, places like Central and South America, Africa, Indonesia and other developing areas.  If you’re frustrated in your outreach, why not go overseas to save souls.  You can learn the language and share the gospel as you do.  You’ll be in a region that is experiencing more ready acceptance of the gospel.  The spiritul soil is better in many of these areas.  I’ve never regretted going to Japan for ten years with my family.  I feel for those who haven’t had the opportunity to experience a different culture and serve overseas.  If you’re thinking about it, I want to offer you some advice:  There is never going to be an opportune time.  If you’ve been thinking about Shawn Wooten’s ReviveEE, sign up and go.  If you’ve considered going to help the churches in South Asia or Southeast Asia, just go.  If you’ve wanted to go to China, make it happen.  It will never be easy, it will never be convenient.  You will have to uproot and go and you will never regret doing it. 


We can grow to 1,000,000+ disciples.  I have many more ideas on how to accomplish it and I look forward to sharing more in future episodes,  but it starts with you, with this group of listeners.  You’re listening because you want to multiply disciples, leaders and churches, you want to make this life count, you want to live a no-regrets life.  Together we can do this.  It always starts with a few people determined to make a difference.  Why couldn’t we see our family of churches grow from 100,000+ disciples to 1,000,000+ disciples over the next 30 years.  That would be something to live and die for.

I’d like to hear from you about this topic.  Email me at and let me know what your ideas are, how we can get to 1,000,000+ disciples and I’ll share your thoughts on a later episode.


If you are enjoying this podcast, I’d like to ask your help and support through one of the following:

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  • Read my books:
    • How to plant and grow a church
    • Courage: How to make this life count
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  • Pray for me and for the church here in Tucson.

My goal is to inspire you to

  • Make this life count.
  • Live a “no-regrets” life
  • Multiply disciples, leaders and churches;

Have a great day and Make This Life Count!