When we look into God’s creation we see this amazing principle, hidden within nature, that reveals to us a powerful force for our churches. It is the power of multiplication. You may be thinking, ” is multiplication even in the Bible”. The answer is a resounding “YES!”. There are countless illustrations of how God has used the principle of multiplication. One of the best examples is Jesus’ ministry. He spent His entire ministry time with 12 other men who were His disciples. He invested Himself in them and then they were commissioned to go and make disciples who in turn were to make more disciples. You may know this as the Great Commission call of Matthew 28.This was never meant to stop. This is the Great Commission of Multiplication.
Addition is the enemy of multiplication!
It is absolutely key to distinguish between multiplication and addition. In church growth, addition is the polar opposite of multiplication. As Christian Schwarz says, “Addition, in church growth, means striving to enlarge an existing organization by adding more elements to it.” ex. 2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2= 20 Multiplication is actually all about giving birth to new organisms, that will then contribute to the further birth of new organisms. ex. 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2= 1024. There is a substantial difference between both of these equations. This is why addition just isn’t enough. You may be thinking, “Well, what’s the big deal? Growth is growth right!” I would say in reply,”Wrong!” An “addition” focus will very quickly reach natural limits. While multiplication, on the other hand, will only be limited by, as Schwarz says, “the counterforce of the environment.”
Death could be the next step to new life in your church.
I want you to stop and think about a ministry in your church right now that has been around the longest. Now, what if I suggested you shut down that ministry. How would you feel? There’s a good chance that you would be hesitant if not absolutely opposed to the idea entirely. Now, why is that? Is the ministry multiplying leaders who multiply leaders? Or is there a fear of something dying? If a ministry or program is multiplying leaders then only pruning and minor adjustments would be needed. But if it’s not, it needs to die. I don’t know if its the fear of being seen as a failure or not but, pastors and leaders have a very difficult time with this concept. We need to remember that in order for something new to grow something has to die. What if the shutting down of this ministry leads to a whole new, creative and vibrant ministry in your church? It would all be worth it, right? We can’t be afraid to make hard decisions and face a new paradigm. The future of your church and the church at large could depend on it.
Production vs Re-production.
How do you know when an Apple tree has reproduced? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not when it has Apples growing on its branches, that’s called producing. We know when an Apple tree has reproduced or multiplied when there is another apple tree. So, to bring this into the church context, how do we know when a small group has reproduced? It’s not when there is a new convert. It is when there is another small group. To take it further, when a church has reproduced is not when there is a new small group but another church. Followers are not a sign of a leader being reproduced. More leaders are a sign of leadership multiplication. This seems so simple but it changes everything. It’s not that we can’t celebrate new converts, new groups, and new followers but the end goal must always be multiplication.
I believe these three points are going to be game changers for your church and ministry. I encourage you today to set your sights higher than addition and look to multiplication. To not be afraid to let the proper things die in order to have the new things God is wanting to do grow up strong and to not settle for production when God desires reproduction.
All these principles can be found in greater depth in “Color your world with NCD” written by Christian Schwarz. Click Here to see it in our online store.