Something wonderful has happened in the last decade, something we haven’t ever seen happen in the U.S. and I’m not talking about Mr. Wonderful. I’m talking about something so wonderful that is makes me wish I were twenty again so I could have more of a part in it – something that I have dreamed and talked about for the last ten years. Want to know what it is?
Since its inception the U.S. Church has been built on two basic premises – build buildings and grow larger. Find a great location, build a people friendly building, and grow and grow. The majority of people evaluated the effectiveness of a pastor’s work on the size of the congregation – the bigger the better. Lists of the 100 largest churches in the U.S. were developed annually.
Just about everything was based on adding people to either the rolls or the congregation. The best of these churches practiced some form of reproducing disciples, but usually for the growth of the one location. Of course there were always the mavericks who talked about house churches or coffee house churches, but they were just that – mavericks.
Then something wonderful happened. Addition and reproduction began to prove mundane and disappointing. Many effective pastors began to question the wisdom of spending millions on construction. Making the church bigger and bigger no longer satisfied their passion for reaching the country with their message – there had to be a better way.
Over the past decade I’ve watched the pursuit of that better way gain steam. First came the multi-site movement, which over the last ten years has moved from fad, to trend, to a major component of U.S. Christianity. If it were a denomination, it would be the largest denomination in the U.S. Next came the church planting explosion to the point that now each year more churches are planted than are closed. A recent study by Leadership Network shows that 82 percent of pastors under the age of forty have a vision for planting churches.
Then, as if all of this wasn’t good enough, something wonderful happened.
These two movements merged into a new mindset that goes beyond growth, addition, reproduction, church planting, or multi-sites.
The Emergence of Something Wonderful
This something wonderful is the emergence of a passion for multiplication.
A passion for multiplication effects everything a church attempts, from making disciples, to small groups, to multi-sites, to church planting. Everything important is given a multiplication factor. That means that every disciple is expected to disciple, and every small group is expected to two, and every multi-site is expected to start another site, and every church plant is expected to plant another church.
The something wonderful is we have moved beyond local church, small groups, multi-sites, and church plants, to a mindset of multiplication. The statistics are in – multi-sites and church plants invariably reach more people than the stand alone church of the past. Not only that, churches focused on multiplication result if far better disciple and committed Christians that those in single locations.
My Broken Heart
Now I must share with you my broken heart. Too many of my mainline brothers and sisters are laboring to revitalize congregations and are missing the most important movement of their lives. That breaks my heart. And here’s the kicker – most of these churches don’t want to be revitalized – they just want to be cared for and allowed to die. How sick is that? It breaks my heart.
So, here is my prayer for everyone of my friends who are stuck in a church that is struggling to survive – either blow it up, turn it around, or get the heck out of there and become part of the greatest movement in our history!