If you’re been reading my posts, you know for the past couple of years I’ve been working with an Exponential think tank to examine what they are calling a Level 5 Church. Basically a Level 5 church is one that is committed to multiplication at every level. The heart of the Level 5 Church is a DNA that makes disciples who make disciples with the end product being many expressions of The Church, but all part of the Body of Christ. This church lives to reproduce Christians who produce other Christians and thus form part of The Church in a local sense.

None of the people in this group, except myself, are members of a mainline tribe. I’ve never understood how I got included, but I’m grateful to be a part of it because it has not only affirmed everything I’ve ranted about for decades but it has also given me a vocabulary to share what has been in my heart for a long time. Not only that, I’ve learned I’m not really a maverick: there are many others who share my dream.

So I’ve been wracking my brain asking “how can I convey this Level 5 Church to my mainline friends?” I’ve been sharing some of my journey over the past two years, but now we’re nearing the end of this journey and the picture of a Level 5 Church is becoming clearer. Let me share it with you in bits and pieces.

The people in a Level 5 Church:

  • Understand that Jesus is the sole authority for everything in their daily life from sex to money. This is the starting point of all true disciple making and eliminates the consumer mentality that plagues mainline churches.
  • See the kingdom as more important than the local church. They view their church through the lens of the Kingdom, which eliminates turf wars and petty local church issues to the point that they are delighted when a new church is planted in their neighborhood. They consider themselves part of the universal Church. They understand the Church to be any group of two or more Christians who gather to worship and serve. They see all churches as expressions of The church. We can’t really speak of “a” church, but only of “the” church.
  • Are plugged into the surrounding community more than they are plugged into the local church because they understand that making disciples who make disciples is the primary ministry of authentic churches and to do this they must be in close proximity to their neighbors.
  • Share their faith everyday with all their networks and actually lead people to Christ. As such they have moved from spiritual formation to spiritual reproduction; from Bible study to biblical application; from education to following Jesus. They understand that when this happens local expressions of the Church are born because making disciples always results in some form of Church.
  • Want the first fruit of their giving designated to the planting of more churches that will plant other churches. So some are willing to sell their home and move to another city or another part of town to plant a church. These disciples aren’t playing church or worshipping out of duty or habit.
  • See their primary calling to be a missionary rather than a member of a local church. Their goal is to transform their community both social and spiritual. They are the church in the community rather than serving the church.

So you can see how different the people in a Level 5 Church are. The good news is we are beginning to see signs of these people emerging in more and more churches.

So let me ask you:

  • Does your church mobilize the people around their calling to the community and world rather than filling slots in the church?
  • Does the pastor see themselves as the pastor to the whole community or just to the local church?
  • Do your leaders see the harvest and are willing to take the risk of releasing people or do they just want to accumulate more and more people?

Do your systems exist to support the Go mission of Matthew 28 or do they support the machinery of your church?

  • Do you talk and think about THE church or merely our church?
  • Do you expect all our participants to be missionaries that share their faith or do you cloister them in the four walls and treat them like consumers?
  • Does your congregation have a balance between living in common and being deployed outside the church
  • Do you focus on adding people or raising up disciples who disciple others?
  • Do you measure the number of new converts, new apprentices, and number of people sent out or do you measure worship and money?
  • Have you eliminated the laity/clergy distinction or do you still expect our pastor to take care of the church members?
  • Do you celebrate the sending and releasing of people for ministry beyond the local church or do you prefer to keep them in your church?

I was talking today to a couple of pastors who are trying to turn the corner from a church based on addition to one based on multiplication and the conversation revolved around the problem that their staffs were having moving on from focusing on the attendance metric to a more advanced metric. They have dwelled so long of the metric of worship attendance that now being told multiplication is the ultimate metric they have a hard time getting their head around the change. And that’s the problem; the multiplication metric isn’t a change; it’s the evolution. Because I’m sure they aren’t the only ones with this issue, let me explain.

Let’s put this conversation in the context of math. Consider the metric of worship attendance being the addition you were taught in elementary school. But later you learned it just the foundation of math. Soon you were introduced to algebra and geometry and so on. Using the math metaphor we see that the metrics of multiplication isn’t an either or, but a both and. Just as addition is the foundation of math so addition (worship attendance) is the foundation of church multiplication. If you aren’t adding people you can’t multiply.

There’s so much more to learn about the Level 5 Church. It’s my hope that before I die there will be hundreds of such churches populating the Western Church because if that happens the Level 5 Church will go viral and the West will be won back to Christianity.