We will increase multiplication of disciples, leaders, groups, churches and ministries by highlighting exemplary leaders and by changing the way our churches view and report growth.
By David Roller
A Culture of Multiplication
I recently took some sourdough starter culture to my daughter. My sourdough starter culture has a rich, pungent smell. I keep it the consistency of pancake batter. Because I was flying, I could only take the smallest amount so I put about half an ounce in a bottle no bigger than my thumb. When I arrived, I emptied that little tiny bit into a bowl, adding water and flour. By morning, my little dollop had penetrated the whole mixture, so I added several more cups of flour and made four loaves of bread and baked one for dinner – all in 24 hours. Now that’s multiplication!
There’s a resistance to multiplication in most groups, church or otherwise. We resist it because it means a disruption of what we know, and disruption feels like loss. So my church of 90 people, or 400 people, will prefer to stay as we are – to not lose what we have. It’s like newlyweds who are enjoying each other and not sure they want to have a baby and introduce change into their bliss. Then when they do, they can’t imagine life without their child and would never go back (except when the baby wants to be fed at 2 a.m.). That’s multiplication.
There’s a resistance to multiplication in most groups, church or otherwise. We resist it because it means a disruption of what we know, and disruption feels like loss.
God put seeds in everything that’s alive: the tiny black specks in bananas, the big black seeds in a watermelon. Way back, back in the beginning, He made it so every plant and animal could reproduce themselves, could multiply. And here we are, you and I, built for reproduction! It’s in our genes, just like the sourdough, just like the watermelon, just like the newlyweds, just like my church.
So why don’t most churches and small groups multiply effortlessly like the sourdough? The dough itself teaches us what is needed: a warm conducive environment, to be fed with flour, and a new space to grow in. It won’t multiply if it’s cold. It won’t multiply if you don’t mix in new flour, and it won’t multiply if you leave it closed up in its bottle (although it might explode).
God planned for everything with life to multiply. He put the seeds of multiplication in everything that has life.
Conversely, if you’re not seeing multiplication, those are good places to check for problems. Maybe there’s not an encouraging conducive environment; maybe there’s no feeding going on, or maybe we’re not opening up new spaces and places so the multiplication can happen.
God planned for everything with life to multiply. He put the seeds of multiplication in everything that has life. And here we are, you and I, our church – built for reproduction!
Darrell MacLearn is in the business of organics, but it’s not vegetables he’s growing in Arizona. For the past year and a half, he’s been building Kindred Communities, a network of organic Free Methodist churches.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve added a lot of things that are negotiable to the church world,” MacLearn said. “Organic church is really about removing a lot of the additives and preservatives — things that maybe you could do without and still fully function as the church.
The Coleman family left a comfortable life in suburban St. Louis in a move that echoed Free Methodist Church – USA bishops’ call to “increase multiplication of disciples, leaders, groups, churches and ministries.”
“Our kids were in the best school district in the area,” said Jerry Coleman, the author of “One-Way Ticket: Leaving Home for Good,” in an interview about the book. “We owned our own home. I was a Free Methodist pastor, but God led us to be missionaries in Europe.”
We cast vision for it and talk about it openly. We make recruiting part of our DNA. We empower emerging leaders. As the lead pastor, I don’t try to micro-manage everything.
Continue to foster dialogue about leadership, church growth, and the pursuit of kingdom values. It’s not just about growing the FMC, but advancing the kingdom.
Discipleship is the key to future leaders. Relational leadership is the base to any ministry.