Ralph Moore newest book, How to Multiply Your Church, comes out tomorrow. But, amazingly, as if it were in a time warp, it is on Amazon today. So, go buy it.
Ralph and I became friends during my consulting relationship with the Foursquare Church. As I have had the privilege to train Fourquare pastors and leadership, we had several opportunities to sit and talk about the remarkable church planting work they have facilitated in Hawaii and globally.
I had read (and used in as a textbook), his earlier book, Starting a New Church, so I was happy to write the foreword to the new book and have reproduced it here. (I am hoping that this will put me in good favor for that preaching invitation in Hawaii-- a place that I have, sadly, never been!)
Multiplication changes things.
In the cultural phenomenon called Star Trek, David Gerrold wrote one of the classic episodes: "The Trouble with Tribbles." On that voyage of the starship Enterprise, the crew encountered some lovable little fuzzballs called Tribbles. At first, the crew fell in love with these cute little creatures. That is, until overwhelmed the vessel through rapid multiplication. Tribbles multiplied faster than rabbits. Multiplication changes things.
Ralph Moore points out clearly and poignantly that the North American church needs some church planting "trouble with tribbles." We need to "fall in love" with multiplication and abandon our addiction to addition. He brings us out of the darkness of church-as-usual, addition thinking, into the light of a new reproductive paradigm. Churches in North America desperately need Moore's message and practical experience.. Hopefully, this work will help spark the kind of movement we so desperately need.
Ralph's book is rich in historical insight, filled with biblical acumen, and applicable to the current realities of church planting. His discussion of fourth generation disciple making, saturation church planting, benefits of multiplying, and New Testament models are
invaluable. His book is practical, challenging, and insightful. Leaders who hunger for reaching another level of ministry impact will want to read and apply the principles found in How to Multiply Your Church.
He observes that because we count individual converts we have a hard advancing from an addition mentality. Think about it this way. When children learn their ABC's and how to count, it's exciting for parents. Then children learn how to combine letters to make words and learn how to add and subtract numbers--that can be a frustrating time for children and parents. Both can wonder if all the sounding out words and counting is really going to lead anywhere. Maybe that's why so many churches and pastors never move on to multiplication--it's difficult. Multiplication is even more difficult to do once it is
embraced. And it's hard to figure out how to do it. Simple addition is easier.
But, most people don't stop with learning their ABC's and learning to add and subtract. Somewhere in the middle of sounding out words and counting, something happens. Words explode into phrases, sentences, paragraphs, books, and writing. Numbers explode into the world of multiplication and division. When that happens, a new world begins to take shape for children and parents.
For too long, the Church in North America has been stuck in the comfortable ABC and simple counting phase of church. We do not have to stay there. Don't get me wrong; I am not against practicing the ABC and counting things (basic spiritual disciplines and measuring who we reach). But, God wants us to build on that foundation and let Him take
things to a new world--a world where disciples and churches are multiplying. That new world, as Ralph Moore points out, will require changing the way we think about and do church. An attitude of increase will be required.
So, what will this new world of multiplication look like? What will it take to change worlds from addition to multiplication, then from multiplication to rapid multiplication or movement? First, we must get ourselves, our egos, and our puny ideas out of the way. Second, we must ask God to increase in our lives and our churches. We need to ask
God for . . .
1. Bigger Faith--When is the last time you asked God to do something in your life or the life of your church that makes His name and fame great. That's what the disciples asked of Jesus, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5). For some, just thinking about reproduction and
multiplication is like asking them to think about giving extreme skiing or bungee jumping a try. Much less actually doing anything about it. We need to ask for bigger faith. The new question is, "What does God want?"
2. Greater Focus on Jesus--John the Baptizer said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Think about it, John had a pretty good thing going. I mean, aside from a weird diet and slightly unfashionable dress. He had all these people coming to him, he had his own followers, and he got to put the smack down on the religious leaders. What a gig! But, once Jesus arrived on the scene, John pointed people solely in Jesus' direction. John even encouraged those following him to follow Jesus. John and John's kingdom was no longer the issue.. Jesus and Jesus' Kingdom was the issue. The new question is, "Who is this all about?"
3. Fresh Boldness in Sharing His Word-- throughout the book of Acts it happened. In fact, at one point, Luke reported, "But the word of God continued to increase and spread" (Acts 12:24). When Paul was in prison, he asked the church at Ephesus to pray that he would share the God's message with boldness. The word of God is increasing and spreading in other parts of the world right now. The new question is, "Why not in North America, again?"
4. Overflowing and Expanding Love--Multiplying disciples and churches requires a special kind of love for Jesus, His Church, and the lost peoples around the world. Paul prayed that the church at Thessalonica would direct God's love to those in their world. I like the way The Message words it, "And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers" (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). The new question is, "How are you praying?"
In its recent history, the CGM (Church Growth Movement) in North America has been more about a GMCM (Grow My Church Movement). What Ralph describes so well is that we need a DMCM (Disciples Multiplying Churches Movement). If God would graciously give us a fresh outpouring of those four things described above, we might see that kind of
multiplicative movement. Ralph Moore has challenged us to think about it and seek it. He has called those who are willing to "step out in faith" and do it.
If you believe that God is nudging you to respond to that call, this is my prayer for you, "May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children" (Psalm 115:14).
May WE change so multiplication can change even more things for God's glory in the world.
Get the book-- it is worth the read.