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ACTIVITY VERSUS ACTION

We stand at a time in the history of Christianity and the church where we must return to the basics. Have we lost our passion to pursue people who are far from God? Are we so focused on our programs, plans, and people that we have taken our eyes off of the harvest? We will leave it to others to decide whether the methods of evangelism have changed or not but the truth is that evangelism should never be an “option” for any church or Christian. It is a command, our mandate, and will we obey or not?

My friend Hal Seed in his pastormentor.com training gives a 90-day prayer challenge. He asked his church and challenges every person to pray, “Lord, I don’t ask for much today. I just ask that you give me your heart for lost people.” That is a prayer that God wants to answer. It is not a prayer to better our circumstances or make our lives easier but instead to align our priorities with His. The main priority of prayer is to be in His presence in order to change us. He wants to mold us into who His image.

Dr John David Smith in his report to our BMA churches, check out bmamissions.org if you want to watch it yourself, reminds us that we are to make disciples and to make disciple-makers. We need to reevaluate what we measure and how we see success. What would you consider success at your church 2-3 years from now? Most people’s answers would revolve around being larger and having more people. That is not wrong in and of itself but there are other Biblical metrics to be considered.

First, are you making disciples? When is the last time someone was born again because of your people sharing their faith with them? When was the last time someone was baptized at your church? How many are even attempting to share their faith? The bigger problem is if that does not even burden us, break our hearts, nor drive us to cry out to God in repentance. Jesus wept over Jerusalem and Paul said he did not cease to labor in tears for people to know Christ. We seem to have become far to comfortable with only fellowshipping with those who already know Him.

Second, what are you willing to do to reach people for Christ? Are you willing to do whatever it takes, short of sin, to build relationships with people far from God in order to share Christ with them? One pastor when asked what had been his greatest sacrifice as a pastor responded, “I think it’s clearly the discipline to treat people better than they deserve to be treated.” Is that not the essence of the gospel? Is that not the very heart of Jesus and the very definition of what true love is?

Third, are you willing to love people who are far from God until they “get it?” That is exactly what Jesus is asking us to do (check out John 13:34-35). This lifts evangelism to a whole new level. It is more than the golden rule, turning the other cheek, or blessing those who curse you. It demands that our commitment must be to love the lost even when they do not deserve it because neither do we. Who do you know that would benefit from that kind of love? Who has God placed in your life that pushes your buttons and makes your blood pressure go up?

In Dr Smith’s report he asks if we measure activity without measuring action? The difference can be between being busy and making a kingdom impact. With activity you are expending energy but there is not a clear purpose or goal in mind. The vision should be to help people find and follow Jesus. Many churches have a lot of frenetic activity going on and they are busy with church stuff but, once again, are disciples being made? We have the resources, programs, facilities, and missions statements but very few are coming to know Christ. Here are a few other metrics we should consider:

We need to measure multiplication not just addition! We know how many people we have added, and we should, but have we multiplied in the area of disciples, leaders, and more churches. We are told that 85% of all churches have plateaued or they are in decline. The 15% who are growing are experiencing this growth through transfer growth. These are people who know Jesus already but decide to attend a different church. Only 1% of the growth churches are seeing is by conversion growth. Making disciples implies you make them from scratch, just like homemade cookies.

We need to measure out-going not just in-gathering! We track who is coming and we focus most of our efforts on being attractional. Remember, addition is good and being attractional is not bad but are we tracking how many are being sent out. Not only how many disciples are we making, how many disciple-makers are we making, and how many leaders are we developing but also how many churches have we helped to start? Discipleship is pouring into others in order to equip them that we may one day release them to multiply. Our sending capacity is far more catalytic than our seating capacity!

We need to measure our functions not just our forms. Forms have to do with all the things we keep track of in church life. Form describes how we look at buildings, programs, salaries, worship styles, and programs. These things are important but they are not the most important. We have determined what is normal for our churches when we need Jesus to redefine for us what His normal is. Function describes what Jesus has called us to do, “Go and make disciples!” How are we doing at making disciples, disciple-makers, leaders, and multiplying churches?

The place to begin could be with this simple prayer challenge, “Lord, I don’t ask for much today. I just ask that you give me your heart for lost people.”

Dare to Disciple

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It is a daring adventure to be a disciple of Jesus and to disciple others. Discipleship involves the process of empowering believers to demonstrate the qualities and characteristics of the one you are following. When that one is Jesus Christ, it raises the bar to an all time high, as our life goal is to become more and more like Him. The challenge is to continue growing, developing, and maturing. The most frequent term used for Christ followers in the scriptures is “children.” While this denotes our position in Christ it also declares our dependency on Him

To be followers of Christ, His disciples, there are two necessary admissions for us to grow and mature, as He desires.

  1. We must declare that we desperately need Him. This journey of discipleship requires an admission of how much we need Him and that we cannot accomplish what He desires without Him. We, as His children, are incomplete, undeveloped, unskilled, vulnerable, and immature. Spiritual growth must occur, it does not happen overnight, and is a lifelong process. We are dependent upon our master teacher!
  2. We must also declare our dependency on our church family. We are meant to be a part of a local church family that can care for us and give us the relational support we all need. The number one need of a newborn, whether physical or spiritual, is a family where they can grow up healthy and strong. You cannot grow into who God intended you to be all by yourself, separated from a local congregation of believers. We not only need to live in submission to our Lord and Savior but also to a body of believers as we serve Him together.

Now that those commitments have been made you can move forward in your discipleship process. This journey involves increasing our level of commitment and sacrifice on a daily basis. As people came to Christ they were sometimes only curious and not ready to make a commitment to be His disciples.

Once they decided they were going to follow Him, He would regularly challenge them to new heights of consecration. Jesus turned up the heat on His disciples on at least fourteen occasions. He would say, “Ok, if you are going to follow Me and be My disciple here is something else you need to know!”

Jesus was showing them that the pathway of discipleship not only demanded that a decision be made (“I have decided to follow Jesus”) but it would also require discipline (“No turning back, no turning back”). Here are a couple more questions that must be asked when we dare to be His disciples.

First, will we follow Jesus? There must be a time that we say yes and began to intentionally follow Him. No longer are we just a curious bystander but we have stepped over the line of decision and will now pursue Him and His ways. We certainly do not understand all that means but to the best of our ability we are all in.

Second, we will consistently be faced with more decisions about how long we will follow Him and how far we will follow Him? We are not to sit idly by. As Jesus turns up the heat on our discipleship are we willing to obey and submit to His Lordship? Jesus regularly added to the expectations of discipleship by saying things like, “If you are going to follow me you must love one anther!”

Then before His own crucifixion He adds, “Take up your cross and follow me!” He was always increasing the level of commitment required to continue as His follower.

If you dare to be a disciple and to disciple others here a couple of things you must realize.

  1. Jesus had a plan. Do you? What does your process of discipleship look like? Can people in your church easily see what the next steps are for them to be the disciple Christ desires them to be? Do you have a system in place for spiritual development and the making of more disciples? Do not think you have to reinvent the wheel but decide what it will look like, implement the process, and then be disciplined to see the process through.
  2. Realize that it does not happen over night. Jesus spent three and half years teaching and showing His disciples what He required of them. It is not that difficult to show you what that looked like but it is very difficult to demonstrate how to do it quickly. It takes time and a commitment to the process.
  3. Start where people are, not where you want them to be. You crawl before you walk and you walk before you run. Remind yourself that you were once there yourself and practice grace and patience with those you are discipling. Don’t expect a three year old to act like a thirty year old.
  4. Make sure you are always increasing the level of commitment. Jesus did and so should we. It is possible to grow older with out growing up – but it should not happen. Listen to what Ephesians 4:13-15 says, “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head —Christ.”

Healthy churches make sure that disciples do not grow older without growing up and maturing in Christ!

P5 Multiplication Timeline

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This is my third recent blog on P5 Multiplication with the strong conviction that we must start multiplying not just adding!  Be sure to read the previous two:

  • P5 Multiplication – June 24, 2015
  • P5 Multiplication Centers – June 26, 2015

Every church should consider where they are in the P5 process and begin working towards being involved in multiplying disciples, leaders, and churches.  What will it look like when you are ready to reproduce by planting a church?

 P5 Multiplication is a 5-Step process:

  • Pray
  • Prepare
  • Partner
  • Parent
  • Plant

P5 Multiplication Centers develop a clear process of discipleship that leads potential church planting teams through an apprentice program in a local church.  They teach individuals how to make disciples right where they live, right now!

  1. They participate as a member of a small group.  (3-6 months)
  2. They are a co-leader of a small group.   (3-6 months)
  3. They start a small group from scratch.  (3-6 months)

The common question is, “How do we get started?” or “How do we get involved?”  Here are items to consider for being a part of the P5 Multiplication movement that we are asking God to make a reality.  The following list is not exhaustive but is meant to serve as guide to help think through steps that can facilitate multiplication:

 

0 – 6 MONTHS:

  • Prayer Retreat (Location, Planter, Team, Level of Involvement, Time, etc.)
  • Read Acts and a book on Church Planting
  • Develop a Sermon Series on Church Planting
  • Cast Vision with Key Leaders and Influencers
  • Develop L.E.A.D. Team (Partners who Learn, Encourage, Achieve, and Dream together)
  • Schedule Churches Planting Churches Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your V.I.P. (Vision, Involvement, Plan)
  • Develop an Understanding of the P5 Process (Determine Your Level of Commitment)

(Pray, Prepare, Partner, Parent, Plant)

  • Attend and/or Organize a Multiplication Center (Mentoring Group can be as small as 2-3)
  • Decide on your Discipleship Engine/Process
  • Form a Daughter Church Task Force inside your Church
  • Send Key Leaders to Visit Successful Church Plants
  • Host information and prayer meetings for the daughter church project

*Churches that have planted daughter churches are growing 3 times faster than those who have not.  (Natural Church Development)

 

 6 – 12 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Discipleship Process, location of team, partnerships, etc.)
  • Read the Epistles with a focus on Leadership Development
  • Begin to Develop a Church Planting Prospectus
  • Celebrate Church Planting in Creative Ways
  • Candidate and location selected
  • Schedule an Assessment (Do not skip this step)
  • Schedule Church Planting Essentials Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your V.P.T. (Vision, Plan, Timeline)
  • Begin researching the Potential Location (Demographics, Exegete the Culture, etc.)
  • Secure partnerships or become a partner
  • Recruit Team
  • Develop Launch Team
  • Partner Church Commitment Worksheet

*It is not the size of the church but the size of the church’s heart that makes the difference.

*What do you need to plant a church?

  • A burden for lost people
  • A willingness to step out in faith
  • A vision for a region
  • A kingdom mindset

 

12 – 18 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Pray for Laborers, Person of Peace, divine appointments, etc)
  • Schedule Mentoring Church Planters Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your Mentoring Vision Statement and Plan
  • Have Budget in Place and Partnerships Finalized
  • Church Planting Agreement Signed (Under Promise and Over Deliver)
  • Church Planter and Team are in Place.
  • Coach is Selected and Coaching
  • Find Persons of Peace and begin Building Relationships
  • Plan Servant Evangelism activities
  • Plan Small Groups meetings as opportunities become available
  • 50% of time must be sent with unbelievers (Do the work of an Evangelist)
  • Baptize New Believers
  • Begin Reporting to Partners

*Make sure you are ready before you launch!

*Schedule Vision Casting meetings with those who might be interested in being a part of the journey!

 

18 – 24 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Pray for disciples to become disciple makers, Pray for workers and leaders, Pray for your city, etc)
  • Continue doing the things that got you where you are! If they are working!
  • Focus must be on making disciples that make disciples
  • Host multiple “taste and see” gatherings
  • Develop systems that will maintian the vision and keep it moving forward
  • Improve follow-up systems and intentionally follow-up on all newcomers
  • Start new missional communities
  • Keep building relationships and networking—This is critical!!!
  • Keep meeting 25 new people a week
  • Remember once the formal worship services begin the show can drive everything if not careful.
  • Look for critical mass (Normally need 40 – 50 adults to have 200 for launch service)
  • Be missional and attractional!

*The goal is to reach as many people as we possibly can with the gospel!

*The goal is to make disciples of those who were not following Jesus!

There are many other things you could possibly add to the list but remember to, “Plan your Work and then Work Your Plan.”  Also remember that no battle strategy survives the first conflict!  You must be ready to adapt and make changes as necessary.  The driving force behind all of this is to go and make disciples!!!

P5 MULTIPLICATION CENTERS

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There is a great need for churches that want to go beyond being occasionally involved in a new church plant. There are churches that have a vision to plant multiple churches over an extended time period. It should be our desire to come alongside these kinds of churches to help them be successful in fulfilling their vision.

This will help church with the P5 process:

  • Pray
  • Prepare
  • Partner
  • Parent
  • Plant

What can be provided churches that want to take this step? Over time we can:

  1. Help a multiplying church develop a tested process that produces qualified planting teams that are successful in planting new churches.
  2. Develop a system where the church planting candidates can be recommended with complete confidence because they have proven themselves in their local church. Acts 13:1-3.
  3. Develop a reproducible process, so that when a planter is successful, there is a good reason to say that the process is successful.
  4. Construct a training model that can be the most effective in the context where the planters will be hoping to plant.
  5. Cooperate with with church planting networks and associations in order to partner in this project which will foster encouragement and support for the church planting team.
  6. Provide training that is closely connected to field-based learning experiences. This is to allow a candidate to show success over time. Feedback and adjustment are an integral part of the learning experience.
  7. Provide a final evaluation that ensures that those called place themselves where they can be successful based on their knowledge/skills/wiring.

Multiplication centers are needed to develop a clear process of discipleship that leads potential church planting teams through an apprentice program which has four stages:

  • Stage 1: I do, you watch.
  • Stage 2: I do, you help.
  • Stage 3: You do, I help.
  • Stage 4: You do, I watch.

These are to be church-based training centers that have three major subsystems:

  1. Recruiting System – Finding Planters
  2. Training System – Providing what they need to know and a venue to develop the necessary skills. Develops disciple makers for church planting and the local church.
  3. Deployment System – Developing a strategy to place qualified planers on the field.

There are three levels of leaders that a multiplication center will hopefully produce:

  1. Leaders – these individuals will discern that God has called them to lead out in taking a team with them to plant a church.
  2. Team Members – these individuals are willing to relocate, find jobs, and help support the church planter.
  3. Champions – these people believe they should remain in their home church and they become champions of church

Here is a testimony from my home church where we started our frst center a couple of years ago:

“The Oasis pastors, staff, and church family are honored to have been invited by the BMAA to be a partner in launching a multiplication center. For several years at Oasis we have had men and women of all ages sense a call to ministry. Our challenge has been coaching them to discern the answers to three very important questions.

1. What’s my calling or ministry assignment?

2. Am I called to ministry leadership?

3. Where am I going to serve in order to answer the call or assignment God has given me?

We believe that through partnering with the BMAA by pouring into these men and women, giving them challenging yet practical tools, and coaching them along the way, that they will be able to identify and obediently respond to God’s call on their lives. It’s our goal to identify, equip, and release these leaders to allow God to accomplish his purposes through their lives.

At Oasis we currently have one Multiplication Center in many locations. Those involved meet together in small groups located in Maumelle, Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Bryant. We believe that through the multiplication center, calls will be answered and we will produce disciples that produce disciples.”

Todd West

P.J. Noland

Oasis Church

www.insideoasis.com

P5 MULTIPLICATION

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Allow me to cast a vision for a North American church multiplication movement which is God sized. Dave Olson, the author of The American Church in Crisis, recently said that over 600,000 churches there will need to be planted by the year 2050 just to keep up with population growth and to replace the 3,000 – 4,000 churches that are closing their doors every year. Paul Becker, the President of Dynamic Church planting International, coined the phrase that God placed on his heart, “700K in the USA.”

This God size vision must be cast nationally but we need to implement it locally. So now allow me to share with you a process and strategy to the preferred future that we believe God desires for all of churches. We have developed a track to help every church carry out the Great Commission and to help each church determine their level of involvement in this movement.

Every church big and small can and should be involved in church multiplication.

First – Pray!

While I realize that this is understood by most we must be careful to not overlook this all important step in this process. In our Dynamic Church Planting International Essentials training (which is Bible principle based not a model) there are four phases; The Macedonia Phase which is God to you, the Ephesus Phase which is You to Your Team, the Jerusalem Phase which is Your Team to the Church, and the Antioch phase which is Your Church to the World. Each phase begins with the same key component; a prayer retreat. We must set aside scheduled times and days that are dedicated to prayer and fasting as we seek His vision for our church. Principle #1 of the DCPI training is the Boss Principle which says, “God is the Lord of church planting and He has a vision for your new daughter church.”

Second – Prepare!

The preparation phase is so important to the church, the church planter, and the missionary. There is the process of assessment that is used to determine an individual’s giftedness, readiness, and where they would be the most beneficial in the Lord’s work. Every church ought to send their possible candidates through the assessment weekend (contact me at larry@bmaam.com). Preparation should also include training such as our Multiplication Workshop which teaches the simple reproducible process of making disciples that make disciples that make disciples.

Our DCPI training has five tracks: Church planting Essentials (for the church planting/missionary team), Churches Planting Churches (for the parent and partner churches), New Church Dynamics (years 2-5 of the church plant), Mentoring Church Planters (how to mentor/coach the planter/missionary), and Church Planting Movements.

With our eyes on the Great Commission we must develop transferrable methods that empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things. What if every church (churches could also cooperate) developed a Ministry Multiplication Center?  I will blog on what that looks like soon!!!

Third – Partner!

Church planters and missionaries could not accomplish what they are accomplishing without partners who have committed to praying, encouraging, visiting, and financially supporting them. They must be willing to give the rest of their lives to suffering for and serving the church. Money is not the limiting factor – leadership is! We must create a culture where we answer the call to mission not salary.

If we rely on external motivation, a paycheck, to reach the world it will never happen. The planter and missionary must have internal motivation; God’s calling, to do whatever it takes to be obedient to His will for their lives. God gives churches and individuals the opportunity to partner and come alongside of them to reach our nation and the world for Christ.

Fourth – Parent!

This requires a much larger commitment from the church. It could be a larger amount of financial support and closer relationship with the church planter/missionary family but it could also involve raising up, discipling, assessing, training, and sending a team out of the church to birth a daughter congregation. A parent takes full responsibility for their children but usually needs some partners (brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents) to help with the nurturing of the new baby. The Churches Planting Churches (DCPI) track is a must with a lesson on “Determining Your Involvement” in the church plant. Every church ought to multiply.

Some say, “We are not healthy enough to multiply!” Then your goal should be to become healthy enough so that you can multiply!

Fifth – Plant!

If we had a sign to hang in the window at our Global Ministry Center it would read, “Church Planters Needed, Apply Inside!” If you think that God might be calling you to church planting we have a tool that you could use to help determine that. The Church Planter Candidate Assessment tool is available on line at cpca.lifeway.com

The truth is that you cannot disconnect church planting from New Testament missions. It was not always the result of their disciple making efforts but it was always the goal. Maturity is the ability to reproduce and we have worked hard to provide churches an easy process for a disciple based church multiplication movement.

Let’s get moving!

LEADING MULTIPLICATION

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Leaders look for ways and opportunities to expand their influence.  Effort and focus is given to sharpening skills and increasing capabilities.  That does not mean “climbing the ladder” or continually looking for a bigger church or a larger ministry.  It is not about managing people because most people do not want to be managed, they want to be led.  Leaders manage their lives well which enables them to lead others well.  The lack of leadership development is one of the most limiting factors in churches today.  Everyone is crying out, “We need more leaders!”

Leaders must multiply other leaders.  The path to leadership reproduction can only begin if the leader is credible.  People listen to a leader not because of what they know or what they have done in the past but because of what they are doing now!  There are those who talk about what leaders should do and some have written on what leaders should do but real leaders are doing it!  The “doers” and the “talkers” can sound very similar but the deeper you look the differences become glaringly apparent.  There is a discipline to passing the baton and a leader must first be a “doer” and not just a “talker.”  You cannot lead what you do not live!

Leaders must multiply if they want their churches to reach their full potential.  In the national research project FACT 2008 it is stated that the leadership in the healthiest churches spent the most time recruiting and training other leaders.  Leaders equip, empower, and release others to be and do what God intended.  That means passing on what you know and what you do to someone else.  J. Oswald Sanders said, “Fatigue is a price of leadership and mediocrity is the result of never getting tired.”  Leaders realize that they are never wasting their time by investing their energies into leadership development.

There are three necessary ingredients to multiplying leaders:

The first is intentionality!

Are you regularly, intentionally, and systematically investing into the lives of the next generation of leaders?  There is a discipline to passing the baton and leaders have decided that this process is worth every effort they can make.  The best metric of a church’s health is whether the congregation is learning to reproduce themselves and they must be lead in this endeavor.  How much time are you spending intentionally pouring into other potential leaders?  A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there!

The second necessary ingredient is faith!

True leadership is about building up and equipping more leaders not being satisfied with a few more followers.  As the leader gives the follower more responsibility (Luke 16:10) he then trusts God to complete the work in the apprentice the same way He did in them.  No one is ever 100% ready but you must let them go!  Jesus gave the disciples responsibilities and then walked with them as they carried them out.  Sure they were slow to pick it up at first but soon He turned everything over to their leadership.  In Leadership Coaching Tony Stoltzfus says, “Giving responsibility to others instead of taking responsibility for them is a key to developing leaders.”

The third ingredient is relationships!

The transformation from a follower to a leader usually does not come through classes, seminars, or books but through significant relationships such as Jesus and the disciples, Barnabas and Saul, and Paul and Timothy.  It is not fair nor is it right to give someone responsibility and not give them the authority to oversee what they are responsible for.  If they are responsible for something then they should have the authority to make decisions in that area.  Responsibility and authority go hand in hand and if we have been intentional in their development we will have to trust them and release them to serve or they will forever remain as followers!

Leadership reproduction is a great metric to determine the health of your church.  No pastor is gifted or skilled enough to reach their city or community for Christ alone.  His calling is to mobilize the entire congregation to engage people in their spheres of influence.  The mission of the church is to equip, empower, and release the body of Christ to function to its fullest capacity.  The key is not the size of your church but your readiness to invest in leadership multiplication.  Every movement starts with one!

THE DNA OF A CHURCH

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DNA is defined as the combination of features that makes something what it is. It is what carries our genetic information, reproduces itself, and is the means by which hereditary characteristics pass from one generation to the next. This major component of chromosomes determines a person’s hair and eye color along with many other features. We have all heard remarks like, “Wow, that apple didn’t fall very far from the tree” or “You could never deny that one” when a child looks a lot like one of their parents. God’s children should resemble Him!

Remember, anything healthy reproduces so what will your church’s children and grandchildren look like? In Organic Leadership, Neal Cole defines the DNA of a church as:

  • Divine truth
  • Nurturing relationships
  • Apostolic mission.

This definition is simple, uncluttered, and powerful. It promotes and produces a mindset of an always expanding and multiplying ministry led by the Spirit of God. DNA reminds us daily of our heritage and of what is most important to us. DNA determines who we are and who we are should determine what we do.

Even the tiniest of cells must exhibit DNA that is healthy and whole. A church will remain strong, healthy, and reproduce healthy children as long as its DNA is maintained. No matter what size a church is, it should have the Lord’s DNA because it belongs to Him, it is to glorify Him, and it should look like Him. Rick Warren has said, “Church size never determines significance! No airplane pilot thinks 15 passengers are insignificant!” The question is, “What kind of disciple should we be producing if our church has the right kind of DNA?”

The lowest common denominator in the church is the disciple. The DNA of the church will be determined by the DNA of the disciples that are being produced. What are the disciples in your church focused on the most? What takes up most of their time? How would your church describe a mature follower of Christ? Every church and every follower of Christ is commanded to make disciples. That is supposed to be who we are and what we do, but is it? Fact: unless making disciples is in the DNA of your church, world evangelism is a fantasy.

Neal Cole goes on to say, “If your ministry is struggling without leaders, don’t reevaluate your leadership program. Reevaluate your disciple making system.” DNA becomes infected and mutant when are churches become consumed with nonbiblical traditions. These traditions do not contradict the Bible but neither are they mandated or necessarily mentioned in the scriptures. Traditions such as singing happy birthday in the service, Sunday School, singing the great hymns of the faith, the way we take an offering, the pastor being at every surgery, and a host of others.

Traditions can be good or bad. They become wrong and dangerous when they are elevated to being equal or sometimes even above scripture. When this happens that church’s DNA is weakened and they begin producing anemic disciples. They stay busy with all kinds of activities and programs but the time has come for churches to quit focusing on matters that the Bible is silent on and begin again to obey what God has clearly commanded, making disciples. Don’t allow “good things” to become the enemy of what is best.

Spiritual maturity is not how much we know but what we are doing with what we know. The real issue is not where your church meets but how it operates. The New Testament norm for every believer and every church is to multiply. J. D. Payne says it this way, “A healthy ecclesiology advocates that your church is to grow and multiply itself throughout the world.” Every disciple is responsible for his spiritual walk and every disciple is responsible to make disciples. Where does it begin? By having the DNA of a disciple maker, Jesus!

The DNA of a healthy church requires that a mature disciple be defined as one who is making disciples that are making disciples!

MULTIPLYING LEADERS

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“If the pastor leaves and reproduction stops, then you have a multiplication person not a multiplication culture!”  Wow, when I heard this statement recently it was like a ball peen hammer right between the eyes.  Leaders produce leaders not curriculum, classes, nor programs.  It takes investing in others through relationships that model disciple making and leadership development.  It requires an intentional mentoring relationship with others which in its purest sense is empowering them to succeed!

Dynamic Church Planting International training defines a mentor as, “Someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there.”  Here are some other definitions of a mentor:

  • “Mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on and a kick in the pants.” –John C. Crosby
  • “Mentoring is a relationship experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.”  -Paul Stanley and J. Robert Clinton
  • “…the mentor relationship in its simplest form is a lot like a big brother, big sister relationship.  The big brother really wants to see the little brother win.”  -Bob Biehl
  • “A mentor provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas- discipline, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability.” –Ted Engstrom
  • “Wherever you turn today, you will find men looking for a guide, a coach, a model, an advisor.  They are looking for someone who knows about life.  In essence, they are looking for a mentor.” –Howard and William Hendricks
  •  “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” –Apostle Paul

God has a way of providing mentors for us throughout our lives.  Many of them occur naturally and some of them accidently but I want to challenge us to be more intentional in developing leaders through our leadership systems.  This way in our ministry multiplication will be in the culture of our ministry not just driven by one person.  We must all have an exit strategy just like Jesus did (see Jn 14:12).  Mentoring includes discipleship but it is more than that because a mentor can fulfill many roles such as teacher, coach, sponsor, friend, counselor, or advisor.

What does it look like for a leader to develop leaders through mentoring relationships? 

First, share your leadership!!!  There must be a willingness to lead through other people.  If you are not careful your commitment to excellence will hurt your desire to develop leaders.  You see, the temptation is to think we are the only ones who can do things the way we want them done.  You know what I’m talking about because many of us have said, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!”  That actually is not true!  The risk here is to trust other people and delegate responsibility but this risk must be taken.

Second, spend time training and developing others.  There must be a focus on training leaders to do the work of the ministry.  Remember, Jesus did not ignore the crowds but He did focus on His small group by pouring into their lives and encouraging them to do greater things then He did.  Someone has said that to encourage means to “pour courage into someone else.”  It is easy to develop a culture in our ministries where everything depends on us but that is not scriptural.  Who are you pouring courage into through intentional relationships so that they might develop into reproducing leaders?

Third, shift from a “me” mentality to a “we’ culture.  We really can accomplish more working together!  What activities do you need to pass off to someone else so that you can focus on leadership development?  If you are too busy to mentor potential leaders than you are too busy!  Take a closer look at what you are doing and realize that 80-85% of what you do could be done by someone else.  We must make time to develop leaders and develop a multiplication culture of reproducing disciple and leaders.  What would happen if you were to dedicate 5-10 hours a week to mentoring others who would then mentor others?

Healthy ministries work hard at developing a multiplication culture!

 

I DIDN’T DO ENOUGH

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At the end of the movie Schindler’s List, the man who was personally responsible for saving 1,100 from the concentration camps is being thanked by those he rescued. They give him a ring that is engraved in Hebrew saying, “He who saves one life saves the world entire!” You would think he would have been very satisfied and maybe even a little proud of what he had accomplished. Instead, he says, “I could have got more out! I could have got more!”

Oskar Schindler begins to weep as he considers how he could have sold his car to the guard and maybe gotten ten more out. He then realizes he could have sold his lapel pin and gotten one more out. He is burdened and brokenhearted with the reality that he could have gotten one more person. While being thanked for the sacrifices he made and the generations he has preserved he is overwhelmed with the thought of how much money he had wasted and says, “I didn’t do enough!”

Three years ago we cast the vision to plant 100 churches in three years! The deadline has come and gone with a grand total of 88 churches planted. This was only possible because of so many working together to accomplish this goal. There are many exciting stories of God doing great things in the lives of many communities but let me say it loud and clear, it’s not enough! We can and should desire to do far more because people are lost, hell is real, and Jesus is coming back some day!

In Church Zero Peyton Jones says this, “Why did God hardwire each piece of fruit for multiplication, yet when we bear fruit, we see it as the endgame? If we were following God’s design for fruit, we’d know that like fruit, churches are packages for spreading seeds—for planting multiple churches. One seed becomes a tree, which becomes another seed factory….That’s what disciples do—they reproduce.”

Jones goes on to say, “Staying focused is a challenge, but if you keep breaking off church-planting seeds, seeking like a piece of fruit to be a seed-bearing package, then you’ll have no problem. Whether it’s the birds, wind, or weather, something will carry those seeds to another destination where they will be needed. Stuff doesn’t grow where it’s not needed, and this world is one needy place.” Here are some observations about our on-going church planting efforts:

First, let’s celebrate the victories! Let’s make sure we stop and praise the Lord for what He has done and for what He is doing. Sometimes we are not the best at celebrating but 88 new churches is something to celebrate. These plants are not only reaching English speaking people groups but also Russian, Spanish, French, Creole, Erdu, Arabic, and the Deaf! Hallelujah!

Second, let’s pray and ask God to send the next great awakening to America! Revival comes when we begin to cry out to Him with a holy desperation. All of the other great awakenings were birthed with people on their knees crying out to God for their nation. Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; it is the greater work!”

Third, let’s remain committed and passionate about our church planting efforts! The temptation is to think we have enough churches and we should focus on strengthening the churches we have. We need more churches (estimated 650,000 more by 2050 just to keep up with population growth) and we need healthy churches to reach their communities with the gospel.

Fourth, let’s encourage one another and help one another! We really are better together and we must be careful to not see this as a competition. It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people! If a gospel preaching church opens next door to us we should rejoice in the truth that more people will probably hear the truth and respond to it in faith.

Fifth, let’s make sure our churches are outwardly focused! There is always one more person out there that you can reach. We can make a difference for Christ! If we are not burdened for lost souls we need to ask God to burden our hearts once again. Every church must get out of their foxholes and once again get out on the offensive. Pew sitting is not a spiritual gift no matter what you may have heard!

Sixth, let’s be willing to give and sacrifice more! Have we done all that we can and is there not more we can do? Should church planters be struggling to meet salaries and budget while so many churches have far more than they will ever need? Is there a planter that has been by your church that would be greatly encouraged by your generosity? Has our prosperity caused us to become complacent?

Last, let’s do more in the next three years! Let’s pray more, witness more, give more, and plant more churches. If we were totally transparent and honest would we not say just like Oskar Schindler, “I didn’t do enough!” C. T. Studd put it this way, “I pray that when I die, all hell will have a party to celebrate the fact that I am no longer in the fight.”

Healthy churches reproduce and we are never more like the church in the book of Acts than when we are directly involved in church planting!

The Path to Multiplication

 

 

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The Path of Multiplication Multiplication is the path the New Testament church was set on in the gospels. Churches need to return to the path that Jesus led the disciples on in John 15 of fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. Some have taken this to be a numbers game but it is not. It is what Christ commands and what was demonstrated by followers from the 1st to the 4th century. The problem is that we are thinking addition while the bible teaches multiplication and while the world is multiplying at an alarming rate. “Early Christianity was not spread by professionals but by ordinary people whose names and deeds went unrecorded.” -S Addison

     In Disciples Are Made not Born Walter Hendrickson said, “The reason that the church of Jesus Christ finds it so difficult to stay on top of the great commission is that the population of the world is multiplying while the church is merely adding. Addition can never keep pace with multiplication.” The path to multiplication begins with death. John 12:24, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Every churches people are called upon to intentionally commit to die together so that others might find god’s Kingdom.

     Who is this path of multiplication for? Every born again believer! Is it for small churches or large churches? All churches! What ministries should be involved? Every ministry! Is it for the young believer or the mature believer? All believers! Is it for church planters or established churches? Both!!! We need to pray that God will raise up a generation of church planters who will transform their communities for Christ and for God to raise up leaders who love established churches and desire to see them multiply. “Reaching the harvest is the ultimate goal. Starting and multiplying new churches through the development of reproducing leaders is the only way we will be able to fully obey Jesus’ command to make disciples.” –Robert E. Logan

First, churches must be about making disciples. Disciple-making begins with the lost. We must once again become passionate about evangelism. We must embrace the mission of Jesus as our own and begin living as missionaries right where we are. A church planter needs to try to be meeting and building a relationship with a minimum 5 lost people a day. A great question to ask ourselves every week is, “Have I been a verbal testimony today to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. The path of multiplication begins when a church decides to go on mission with God. “A missional church thinking outwardly usually is a healthy church inwardly.” -Thom Rainer

Second, we must develop leaders for the harvest and from the harvest. Everywhere you look there is a leadership shortage. Pastors say they need more leaders. The temptation is to focus on the recruitment of leaders instead of reproducing them out of the harvest. If we do not reproduce them out of the harvest then soon the leadership pool will run dry. Every church must develop a strategy for helping new believers to grow because discipleship must be intentional.” Our future depends upon our intentionally developing the next generation of leaders because better leaders mean better churches. “If you’re not legacy minded, what you do ends with you!” -Chris Nicely

Third, develop an easily reproducible strategy. With our eyes on the Great Commission we must develop transferrable methods that empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things. What if every church (churches could also cooperate) developed a Ministry Multiplication Center? It might look like this:

  • Identify potential multipliers in your congregation. They need to be individuals who have been God-validated by their involvement in the local body. They have demonstrated their ability to evangelize, disciple, and multiply themselves.
  • Enlist them into a 9-month training program for multiplication. They will commit with others in an intensive time of instruction with a clear sense of calling towards church multiplication. The maximum number of students is eight.
  • Establish that the focus will be on church multiplication and leadership principles while always keeping a focus on biblical and theological understanding. They will meet once a week for 3-4 hours of intensive interaction in a “round table” format.
  • Each student comes prepared to lead the discussion on the assigned topic. Each student prepares for each class through assigned reading and come to class focused on practical application of theological truths.
  • Implementation of the learning occurs when each student is asked to write a church multiplication proposal at the end of the class. The proposal should undergo a thorough evaluation that focuses on their action plans and introduces some reality to them.

     The “what if” scenario is adapted from Raising Leaders for the Harvest by Robert E. Logan and Neil Cole and is only meant to be a template. It can be adapted for small groups, cell groups, satellite congregation, and more. The maximum might be eight but it would work one on one also. “Many leaders do not give themselves to developing other people because they have never had it happen to them.” –Reggie McNeal

     The path to multiplication is a path we can all travel but we must decide to make the journey, we must prepare for the journey, and we must be dedicated to finishing the journey! If your vision for your church is only your congregation it is too small a vision. The path to multiplication is to raise up leaders for the harvest and from the harvest through a more effective and reproducible process of leadership development within local churches, resulting in church multiplication movements.  Ask God whether your church should plant, parent, or partner!