When I looked into pursuing a doctorate, I was intrigued with two things in my life:
Church Planting, and
Globally, I realized, Christianity was doing very well. But in the West, and in particular in North America, it was struggling. Badly.
And so I signed up with the Northwest Graduate School in Seattle (now Bakke Graduate School) for their Church Multiplication Movements degree program. Those studies deepened my commitment, and broadened my horizons, on what it would take to launch a multiplication movement in the US.
From the very beginning, the church was designed to multiply. Yes, Peter’s stellar sermon in Acts 2 got things started with over 3000 new members. But if the church had shifted to Addition-Mode, well, you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.
But the early church didn’t depend on Addition-Mode growth. They weren’t interested in growing a church … they were launching a movement that was designed from the beginning to transform the world.
Look at what’s recorded just in the book of Acts:
- Acts 2:47 says, “Each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.” The number of Christians was growing daily!
- Acts 5:28 says, “You have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Jesus.”
- Acts 6:1 says, “The believers rapidly multiplied.” It is only now, after all this growth, that they use the word “rapidly.”
- “Acts 6:7 says, “So the word of God increased, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem multiplied.”
- In Acts 9:31, “Therefore, the church throughout the whole of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit it was multiplying.”
- But this wildfire of growth was not over. In Acts 21:20 we read: “When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, thousands [murias] of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.” The passage uses another word for this harvest – murias, from which we get the word myriad. The word means tens of thousands … there were literally tens of thousands of believers in Jerusalem by the time Paul was arrested in Jerusalem.
We must rekindle the early church’s passion and plan. Perhaps the most important thing I learned at Northwest Grad is that multiplication isn’t an option. It was Jesus’ plan from the beginning. And the fact is, multiplication is the only hope left for the declining Mainline.
To learn more about how you can turn your church into a multiplication movement, start your journey with Dinosaurs to Rabbits: Turning Mainline Decline To a Multiplication Movement.