We launched our church, Chapel of Change, in 2012 in greater Long Beach, California, with one “Sunday Celebration.” It was an exciting day with 700 people showing up to support our efforts. We intentionally launched large knowing the following Sunday’s attendance would be much smaller.
Going into our church-planting journey, we decided to become a multiplying church. We haven’t launched a new church yet, but we have multiplied in baby steps. Today, we have four Sunday celebrations on two campuses with several church-planter candidates in the pipeline, and we are about to launch a new Sunday night campus.
Multiplication doesn’t just happen. Pastors and leaders need to be intentional. There is an equation that equals multiplication. Let me break down parts of this equation.
Be theologically convinced.
A person has to be convinced God wants multiplication. More so, Christians should be convinced God wants multiplication for His kingdom. It will not happen just based on good intentions or wishful thinking. There needs to be motivation rooted in God’s Word. Get into the Word, and let God’s will drive you. Let God’s Word inspire and challenge you to multiply. Here are some good places to start:
“God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth’” (Genesis 1:22).
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18–20).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Acts 13:2).
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers” (Acts 16:5).
If we don’t have a theological conviction, our excitement will soon fade in the face of all the challenges it takes to multiply.
Talk about it.
It’s important to develop a culture of multiplication. From there, your culture produces who you intend to be. According to “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” author Samuel R. Chand, a leadership consultant for businesses and ministries, “Culture eats vision for breakfast.” Your stories and what you celebrate verbally from the stage help form your church culture.
Before we even launched our church, we were telling stories about other churches planting churches. After we launched, we continued talking about what it looks like to multiply. I showed videos of church multiplication, and our leaders read articles about it.
Now multiplication is part of what we think about on a daily basis. Our people are actually expecting us to launch a church soon and would be disappointed if we didn’t. I no longer have to convince our teams about the importance of multiplying.
Make big moves.
It’s amazing how many pastors express a desire to multiply but never get around to it. It’s more amazing how so many church planters are into church planting until they plant their own church. Then it’s all about building up their work. It may be because multiplication takes sacrifice — big moves —and sacrifice hurts. If you’re going to multiply, be prepared to sacrifice people, finances and talent.
When we started to multiply our one Sunday service into four, it took major sacrifice and risk. We committed thousands of dollars. We invested people into this effort and actually spread our church thin. I recruited a launch team from our established service and reassigned them to our new services. This initially weakened our attendance in an individual service. I would preach to several smaller groups instead of one big group. But, in time, our sacrifice paid off as the Lord increased each service.
As leaders, we are called to make big moves. We are called to pray big, dream big and then do big. I don’t just mean big in numbers but big in sacrifice.
Keep your guard up.
Church planting as multiplication is extremely risky. The spiritual warfare is real. The conflict you will encounter is real. The spiritual and conflict warfare are even much more intense if you plan on being a church-planting church.
Because of this conflict, my wife, Laura, and I have purposely led our church to engage more in prayer. Every October is our month of prayer in which we teach on prayer on Sundays and launch small groups of prayer every night of the week. This has helped the whole church stay spiritually strong and connected to the Chief Multiplier.
Brian Warth is the founder and lead pastor of Chapel of Change Christian Fellowship, a multiethnic church with a mission to give fresh hope to families and the city. He is the author of “Young Man Arise: Fresh Hope Emerging from the Darkness.”1