It is now just over a month since Exponential East. I attended as a prospective church planter and had two significant sets of takeaways. If you attended Exponential, let these reflections revive your excitement. If you didn’t attend, let me share my experience with you.
The first set of takeaways was the emphasis on Multiplication. In the church world, there is always a “next big focus.” The focus may gradually shift, leaving room for blurring and mixing of different trends and emphases. Recently the church has seen such shifts from the “emerging church” to the “missional church,” and, now, to the “multiplying church.” Focus, of course, is good. It keeps denominations and other networks united as churches and, more broadly, the Church, as she moves forward in the Kingdom. The big question, though, is what movement will our generation have the opportunity to create?
Key Church leaders at this year’s Exponential conference laid the framework for what it would look like if our generation became known for a “multiplication movement.” Many churches, right now, are content with what was called level 3: attendance is growing, but multiplication is not happening. Why? We have gotten stuck in a cycle of fear: fear of inadequacy, fear of losing our best leaders, and fear of failure.
“Becoming Five” is the movement of multiplication Exponential’s leaders would like this generation to embrace, surrendering any fears of inadequacy to Christ and embracing the call of establishing multiplying churches. Here are five qualities of such Level 5, multiplying churches.
- Multiplying churches understand that every church can multiply. Obedience to discover how to multiply is emphasized, and the size of the congregation or the resources on hand makes no difference.
- Multiplying churches tithe all their resources. Not only do they give away their first fruit of finances, but they also tithe their best talent to become church planters.
- Multiplying churches create a sending culture. Not only is the church willing to release some of their best talent, but they equip them and challenge them to go.
- Multiplying churches have a clear strategy. The age of the church does not matter. From 100 years old to freshly launched, a clearly explained and easy to understand vision for how the church will multiply over the next 1, 5, and 50 years brings people on board.
- Multiplying churches launch “new plants” over “new sites.” While satellite campuses have their place, a multiplying church would limit themselves to 1 satellite campus for every 5 new churches they plant.
The second set of takeaways was specific tools I gleaned that will help leaders produce multiplying churches.
- Be Prepared. This includes knowing who we are as leaders, knowing the mission, vision and values of the church we serve, and knowing where we are going in the future so we can point those we lead in that direction. Some practical ways to accomplish these things were taking leadership assessments individually and as a staff, and creating simple and repeatable mission, vision and values diagrams (complete with pictures for your visual learners).
- Be You. The cross is there to cover any inadequacies or shortcomings we might have. Our leaders and those we are trying to reach will see right through any façade that aims to impress. If you face key shortcomings or deficiencies in skill, having your staff take part in personality, gift and leadership assessments will give you the opportunity to surround yourself with people who can—in addition to the Triune God—strengthen you as the leader.
- Be Open-Handed. As we build strong core teams, we should constantly be teaching them how to train other leaders, teams, and volunteers. This will give us a revolving door of talented leaders who we can send out to plant and “multiply” this process. Sometimes, though, this may mean sacrificing those we may or may not be ready to release just yet.
- Be Obedient. We are just a small part of the big plan God has for the future of His church. Consequently, we should continually ask God where we can follow Him, how we can be true to our calling, and how we can trust Him more.
While I’m pondering more and more what it means to be part of the “Becoming Five” generation, mixtures of excitement and fear grow inside me. Continuing to carry on the important themes of the “emergent church” and the “missional church” to embrace this “multiplying church” is sacrificial. It is a call to sacrifice the comforts we have may have—a solid team, a big budget, and—more personally—a nice house, car, clothes and lifestyle. It is a call to surrender to Christ each day knowing that our role in the Church is simply to seek His will and advance it as He equips us. It is a call to come and die as we give him Lordship of each area of our lives. I’m choosing to cast off these fears, though, and I am ready to be part of this multiplying movement. Are you?