By David Jackson, BCM/D Missionary for Church Multiplication
One of the clarion calls issued in the Great Commission Task Force report that was adopted in June 2010, is for more of our SBC churches to be involved in church planting. Currently, only about four percent are engaged in any part of the multiplication process; the North American Mission Board desires to raise that percentage to ten in the next few years.
For that to take place, churches will have to do several things. First, leaders will have to prioritize church planting among all their local church endeavors. Second, the church will have to align the organization to enable church planting to take place. Third, the congregation will have to be educated about the process.
In the last church plant I was privileged to start, the congregation parented five churches in its first six years. That didn’t happen by accident; there was an intentional process at work that enabled us to continue to grow, while at the same time see new congregations started elsewhere. Multiplication can take place, regardless of size or financial status, when churches are willing to commit to Kingdom enlargement.
Most people think it is easier to parent new churches from a church plant. Surprisingly, the research suggests there is almost no difference at all between church plants and existing churches involved in reproduction. To be sure, there are a different set of issues and concerns to tackle, but the process is the same. If we are ever going to see multiplication take place, all churches, whether new or old, will have to overcome personal interest and fear, in order to trust God to use them beyond their local congregation.
Over my next three columns, I will share thoughts here on how church multiplication can become an integral part of your church. In future articles, I’ll look at the past and the future to assist our learning. Here, though, we’ll focus on the present—a reality check—if you will, to see where we are “at” in this process and what action steps we must take to get us ready to reproduce.
First, leaders must “own” the objective personally. The leadership of a church, especially a church that has been around for a while, must passionately embrace the need for their congregation to get involved in church multiplication. This must start with the senior pastor; there is no substitute for him being onboard with this decision. Let me say that another way: this commitment is doomed to failure if the senior pastor is not behind its effort. It must become a top priority in church life. Better yet, it should become woven into the fabric of the church’s raison d’etre and not seen as simply a new program among the many things that the church already does.
Action Point: Are our leaders committed to church planting out of our church? If not, what’s keeping them from prioritizing it?
Second, the organization must be aligned and adjusted to accomplish this objective. To do this, all leaders must prioritize this decision and “think reproduction” within their own areas of ministry responsibility. (Congregational reproduction more naturally follows when a church is already reproducing disciples, leaders and groups.) In most churches, the congregation will need to voice its own support for involvement of the church in multiplication initiatives. Budgets and calendars have to be aligned, too. We value what we do! So, if we are to value reproduction we will have to plan for it as good stewards of the money and time God gives us.
Action Point: What would have to change in our organization and its processes in order to see church planting aligned with our expected outcomes?
Third, the church must be educated about the process of planting a church and how it will impact them. The lack of education about church planting is the greatest cause of fear it brings into the life of existing churches. Few churches understand the benefits church planting brings to their church: new people, new leaders, greater mission involvement, added vitality, legacy impact and most significantly, God’s added blessing. Most prefer to focus on the perceived negatives: the cost, the time, the impact it will have on “us.” Through education, churches alleviate these fears and ready themselves to step out in faith for the sake of the Kingdom through church planting.
Action Point: What do we need to learn, in order to extend the legacy of our church through church multiplication?
Church planting is still the most effective means of reaching lost people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Until that changes, every church should make a “reality check” in regards to their own involvement in reproduction. Why not determine now the next steps needed to make your congregation a necessary participant in Kingdom advancement?
Lost people—whether they realize it or not—are depending on you getting involved.
Next time: Ready for reproduction: Dealing with the past (Part Two)