3 Truths about Multiplying ChurchesBy Dave Harvey
May 26, 2021
Why should be intentional about multiplying churches? Because it is the biblical strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission.
When I was in seminary, I took a language class from a professor who felt that the language was so simple that any village idiot could get it. But this village idiot was not getting it. To me, it was utterly incomprehensible. One day, in utter exasperation, I raised my hand and I said to him, “Sir, How do I help my brain understand this language? How can I wrap my brain around it?”
And for him, that was the big moment he was waiting for, because he said, “Let me tell you a story.” He said, “When I was a lad, I just had a mental block concerning the multiplication tables by nine.” He said, “The sixes, the sevens, the eight I had no problem with, but it was the multiplication tables by nines that locked me up.” He said, “One day I failed a quiz and my mom was so upset with me that she marched me to the foot of the attic steps. She told me to go upstairs. She locked the door behind me and then I had to stay upstairs for the entire evening, doing the multiplication table by nines. And the next day I took a quiz and I passed the quiz.”
And then he left this long pregnant pause and he went, “Practice. That’s how you learn how to multiply. And that’s how you learn Hebrew.” And he just said then, “Now, are there any other questions?” And I raised my hand and he said, “Yes?” And I said, “What’s nine times seven?” Because I’m thinking, “How’s he going to teach me Hebrew if he never learned how to multiply, right?”
The question for us is the same. How do we learn to multiply? Here are three essential lessons for multiplying churches.
Multiplication Means Planting
Church planting is the means through which the Great Commission is fulfilled. When the disciples in Acts went to apply the Great Commission, church planting became the means, the center of their strategy. Right now, there are churches praying, “Lord, help us to apply the Great Commission. Please help us, oh God.” The way we do that is the same way it was done in the New Testament: we plant local churches. In the New Testament, churches were at the center of missions. Churches fueled missions. They funded missions. They were the fruit of missions. This is why the study of missions in the New Testament is really about the study of churches and church planting. It’s why Paul was sent from churches and he was received by churches. It’s why Paul’s labors resulted in churches and letters were addressed to churches. This is why Great Commission Collective was started to partner churches together to multiply churches.
Multiplication Signifies Flourishing
God has arranged creation to multiply when creation is flourishing. Creation is birth with the genetics of multiplication. In Genesis 1, God determines to multiply His image. The Trinity says, “Let us make man in our image.” The man and the woman are created and the call rings forth. Be fruitful and multiply and have dominion. Throughout Israel, throughout the Old Testament, in the covenant promises, God multiplies His glory. He multiplies his people. In the gospels, as the New Testament comes, we discover that the new creation triggers multiplication as well. That conversion embeds the genetics of multiplication: Jesus calls the 12 disciples to multiply. The Great Commission, resonates with multiplication.
Even in a fallen world, healthy organisms multiply, and a healthy church means multiplying churches.
Multiplication Requires Intentionality
The future of the church rests on thriving pluralities and healthy lead (or senior) pastors. So, we invest time and effort and energy and money into those things. To multiply effectively we must collaborate intentionally. It’s not enough to want to serve. We need to find how we can apply our service and how we can aim our service effectively.
When I was a kid, my mom once asked me to pick some weeds in the front of our house where she had a garden. And I was eager to please her on this particular day. I launched into satisfying her request and I just tore through her garden bed like a tornado, which means I spent the entire afternoon mistakenly pulling up her ferns and pitching them into a garbage can. Yeah, I was serving and I was working hard, but it was misapplied service. It was poorly aimed.
If we want to multiply churches, we must start by being intentional about the right things.
Churches that multiply strive to intentionally plant flourishing churches. Anything less falls short of Great Commission multiplication.
If you are an aspiring church planter, find out if GCC is your right network partner.