– By Chris McBride and Dave Coles
A 24:14 Interview with Beyond CEO, Kent Parks
Recently I sat down with Kent Parks, the CEO of BEYOND, to talk about what is happening with the agency he leads. I had seen a chart of the work that BEYOND has done over the last few years, and I wanted to ask about how COVID-19 affected Beyond’s work globally, and to celebrate the growth with him.
Kent, how would you characterize the growth that Beyond has seen during the pandemic?You can download Beyond’s full annual report here
These numbers are directly from movements that our staff are actively catalyzing and currently serve. All credit goes to the Lord and the inside leaders and the churches they are reproducing.
A quick story: one movement’s core leadership met in January of 2020 for prayer. They discerned from the Lord that they were supposed to start 60,000 churches in 2020, an increase of over 100% from the previous year! However, in March, severe lockdowns were implemented. Because of this change, they reevaluated their goal. In the online meeting, the group quickly agreed, saying: “The Lord knew this was coming when He spoke to us in January. Yes, this is what we must do!”
Well, a year later, this goal has come to pass! God has done it! They more than doubled.
In 2020, we saw people making disciples at great risk to themselves, in great poverty, and [under the] threat of illness. Because the process was part of the DNA of how they were discipled, they continued making disciples, because that is what God called them to do.
When you looked at the statistics for 2020, were you surprised?
We were thrilled! We had reported 610,000 disciples in 2019 and now 1,278,000+ in 2020, with similar growth in churches.
Because we know these patterns of reproduction work, however, we were not really surprised but celebrating. Disciples and churches are doing what the Lord has called them to do! People are reproducing disciples. Our response was a mix of emotions, from “not that surprised” to “can you believe this?”
Do you think that the growth happened despite the pandemic, or do you think the pandemic played a role in the growth?
I think the pandemic brought an increase. Another movement leader we are friends with said, “The Lord stopped the world.” That was his description of how people were suddenly able to have conversations, where before they had been too busy. Out of a great disaster…people not able to work meant many were not able to eat. And Jesus’ church rose up and fed them in the midst of great poverty.
Like many organizations, we channeled some funds through Beyond, but it was not nearly enough. The disciples did what they could to keep feeding people, prayed for the sick to be healed, and kept making disciples. It was in the pandemic and disaster that we found growth.
What counsel would you give other agencies as they try to align themselves for future fruitfulness?
You need to have a process that is immediately reproducible and immediately deep. One place to start is, “How did Jesus do it?” How is it that one year after Jesus’ death, they had [Kent’s low estimate] 30,000 baptized disciples? And Jesus said that we will do greater things than that? I used to think Jesus was exaggerating when he said, “You will see 30, 60, 100-fold fruit.” Now I have met some of the heroes of the faith who are doing that.
At Beyond, we even try to structure our internal financial and leadership processes (as much as possible) to replicate what we want to see in movements. If we want leadership to reproduce, we need a process that can be immediately imitated.
So in every part of leading an agency, we have to break it down with a “what is it going to take?” focus. If we want to be somewhere in ten years, we have to break down the goal and see what kind of multiplication it will take to achieve that goal.
We have to constantly evaluate what we are doing based on the goal.
How can agencies like Beyond collaborate together in the 24:14 Vision to see every people and place engaged?
One of the best collaborative things agencies can do is to ask existing movement leaders, “How can we help?” not, “Here is our toolkit.” At least 80% of movements have been started by other movements. One of our best roles is to help existing movements grow and multiply.
We need to look at the goal with a “what is it going to take” mentality. Then our efforts are multiplied because we are working toward the same goal.