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February 28, 2012Church Planting

Model Multiplication: Viral Churches, part 3

I am currently in the middle of a series through my book Viral Churches. Today's post examines the importance of intentionally modeling multiplication, not just preaching about it.

I have three young daughters. I confess that through the years I may have been a little slow at learning some of the nuances that come with raising girls. Fixing hair, putting on tights (them, not me), trying to keep up with the latest cyber pets . . . a father's work is never done.

One area that I picked up on pretty quickly, however, is the way that having little children around is like having a video recorder follow you all day. They say and do what they see around them. More than simply listening to what you say, kids repeat what you do. And they do it often.

Truth is, people don't really ever outgrow that tendency. We tend to model what we see and learn from those closest to us. That's why my third characteristic for seeing a church multiplication movement occur in the West is to "model multiplication." If we want to be a part of something unprecedented in our context, we, as pastors and leaders need to not just talk about multiplication from our pulpits, but we need to live it.

No, I'm not saying we should all have eight plus kids in our families (though that is awesome, too). Rather, I'm suggesting that in our churches, we start from the very beginning showing our congregations what it means to multiply believers, leaders, and other churches. This starts with our time.

Chances are that unless they make a proactive, conscious effort to do so, pastors and leaders don't spend enough time with two groups of people: leaders and the lost.

This is an issue of multiplication. We spend time with other leaders so that we can multiply more leaders. We spend time with the lost so that we can multiply more disciples. Too often, we miss out on time with these groups of people because we're spending it listening to everyone else.

I'm not trying to minimize the importance of pastoral care, but rather to point out that if we want to multiply a movement, we have to be multiplying leaders so that we can influence that multiplying movement. We cannot lead what we do not live. We must be multipliers.

We, as pastors, also need to remember that our sermons about multiplication need to be backed up with actual examples. We need to actually cast a vision of church plants before our congregations and then tell them that we want some of them to leave our body and join the new plant.

And, I believe, that means multiplying earlier that you might expect if we are really going to see a movement--though this is a controversial subject at times.

For example, I was speaking at a church planting conference a few years ago with a great leader of a church planting megachurch, and when asked when he thought was the optimal time to plant a church, he contended that churches should wait until they are 800 people. Planting before that, he thought, was just too early. Another church planting expert I know suggests that churches wait to plant until they have $100,000 in the bank.

I disagreed... pretty strongly. I'm more convinced than ever that if a church waits until they're Saddleback before they multiply, they're never going to multiply. Every church thinks they need "just a little more," when I think they need "just a little faith." A church must model multiplication when it hurts, not just when it's easy.

So, model multiplication, multiply everything, and do it early.

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Model Multiplication: Viral Churches, part 3