Boy do I have egg on my face.

Like most of the people who coach church planters, I’ve always told them that the most important thing they can do is get butts in the seats. Don’t worry about serious discipleship until you get a crowd. The problem with this is that by the time you get a crowd, the culture of the church is one of accumulation instead of multiplication. And what I’m learning is that multiplication becomes possible because of one thing: the depth and breadth of how you disciple. If serious discipleship happens at the beginning of a person’s journey with the church, the odds of them being willing to be sent are exponentially increased.

If you have been reading my recent blog posts, you know that a new form of church is emerging that we’re calling the multiplication church. I spent time in Atlanta at a think tank with a dozen of the brightest minds in church planting. It was a life changer for me. I’ve had to rethink two crucial pieces of ministry. One, I’ve had to accept that church planting is more important than multiple sites; and two, I’ve had to realize that telling church planters to get butts in the seats and not to worry about serious discipling until you get a crowd works against multiplication.

Why is it necessary for me to change my mind on such crucial pieces of ministry?

The new form of church that I experienced in Atlanta and that I’ve been writing about expects every person to be willing to do one of the following:

  • Lead a church plant
  • Be on a church planting team
  • Be sent into the city, town, or village to lead or be part of an outreach ministry

This expectation is mind-blowing for most church planters I know. Their primary concern is simply to survive long enough to become self-sustaining. However, I’ve become convinced that it is the only way for Christianity to win back the West.

Instead of “get butts in the seat,” I should have been teaching, “disciple as you go.” Don’t wait till you have a crowd; disciple from day one with your first recruit or convert. This shifts the focus from spending 80% of your time getting butts in the seats to spending most of your time both inviting and discipling those who are ready.

It’s one thing to talk about multiplication; it’s another to actually put it into practice.

It’s time a lot of us change our minds. How about joining me in cracking some egg on our faces?

Question: What is an aspect of church leadership about which you shifted your perspective? Share your transformation and your reasoning in the Comments section below.