We're planting a church Pt. 4: Multiplication in the DNA
As my family is in the process of finalizing (prayerfully) the details to make the move to Natchitoches, LA, to give birth to a new church plant - Awaken Church - we're keeping God's vision for us in the forefront of everything we do: awakening people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus, and equipping them to awaken others.
The vision God is showing is for Awaken Church to intentionally be a...
What exactly does it mean to be a Multiplying church?
"Church Multiplication" seems to sound like something new to the "growth by addition" mindset ingrained in today's church culture. However, this is actually how the church of God grew in the New Testament narrative. Yes, "each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved (Acts 2:47)," but when we look at how the Lord added people to the fellowship of believers, it was through disciples making disciples who made disciples who made disciples... the church of God was multiplying! Disciples of Jesus reproduce & the church multiplies!
Confession: I've been in the same boat as the majority of Pastors (and Christians for that matter), and been so focused on church growth by adding numbers (people & finances) that I have completely ignored that spiritual health isn't best gauged (if it really can be gauged) best by how many people are added to the membership, nor how much $$ is added to the budget. Could a better gauge be: how well are we multiplying disciples? How many and how much are we sending out?
A healthy church produces disciples, not more consumers.
Recently I read a fantastic book about this called, Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church, by Todd Wilson & Dave Ferguson. From this excellent resource, I learned that today in the U.S.:
* 80% of churches are declining or plateaued
* 16% of churches are growing but not reproducing or multiplying
* 4% of churches are reproducing but not multiplying
* essentially 0% of churches are multiplying.
We believe God's vision for Awaken Church is to use a different scorecard for health, based not so much on addition growth, but more on discipleship and multiplication. As we look forward to brainstorming what this might look like with the team God brings around us, we're prayerfully seeking to...
Intentionally MULTIPLY disciples! It's no secret that over the past several decades the church in general has dropped the ball of making disciples. Making church members is not the same as making disciples. Jesus pretty much defined discipleship in Matthew 28:20: "Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you." This really doesn't happen on Sunday mornings. This happens in smaller groups (or 1-on-1) where God's way is learned by reading, discussing, then doing. Awaken Church will begin with small groups who intentionally multiply: disciples making disciples who make disciples who make disciples... We will develop a system which will allow for what happens best organically when people journey together.
Intentionally MULTIPLY congregations! In short, we intend to be a church that plants/births churches. We intend to raise up disciples who become leaders, spending time to equip them to be sent out.and multiply: to plant churches who plant churches who plant churches... As we gather our team, we will prayerfully brainstorm what a leadership pipeline might look like for Awaken Church, where ministry staff team leaders (associate pastors, etc) each have an apprentice, who will eventually be sent out to plant a new church, or as revitalization missionaries to existing churches. In this way, we envision Awaken Church stepping out boldly as a part of the church planting movement of the Church of God in Louisiana (and beyond!)!
We reproduce who and what we are, what we know and what we value. Multiplication is in the DNA of Awaken Church from the very beginning. I've even asked a couple of different folks to pray about what it might look like for them to relocate to Natchitoches, LA, to help us give birth to Awaken Church, then send them out to do the same in another community. By the way, more on the "Launch Team" coming soon, but if you feel like this might be for you, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org