4 of 6 Proof of a Healthy Church
There is power in multiplication. Every living thing multiplies. Multiplication is key to survival. With it all things thrive, without it they parish. Plants and animals alike rely on multiplication to exist. Some Scholars suggest if humans didn’t multiply the planet would be extinct within 100 years.
What’s true for humans is also true for the Church. Churches must multiply to survive. Each church harbors the power to multiply God’s impact in the world. If this power remains dormant God’s Church will die. If this power is released God’s glory will be revealed to the ends of the earth. Unpack the power of multiplication and discover how any Church can gain momentum through multiplication.
Multiplication (2 Timothy 2:2)
Everything that lives multiplies. A church that is alive (healthy) will multiply. Multiplication is defined as Christians surrendering to the leadership of the Spirit of God resulting in additional disciples, service, and groups. This culminates in the formation of new churches. Every church that exists was started through multiplication.
Below are some of the byproducts of any church focused on multiplication.
|Missional Impact||Empowered Leaders|
|Evangelistic Outreach||Small Group Growth|
|Increased Guest Attendance||Church Plants|
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Chris Dreier the executive pastor at Sagebrush Church, in Albuquerque New Mexico. Chris has been instrumental in the growth of small groups, leadership development, and multisite campus launches. Sagebrush has grown to care for thousands of people in New Mexico and beyond. Here are some thoughts Chris shared that help us better understand the byproducts of multiplication and how the Church can gain momentum.
Missional Impact becomes self-evident because the very act of multiplication is the mission (or should be). The great commission begins with “go”. This fulfills the act of going into the world by providing more locations where Christ can be preached.
When a church takes the step of multiplication and the gospel is shared with people who are far from God, the Word of God takes root, people choose to become followers of Jesus, and the mission of “making disciples” and “teaching them to obey everything God has commanded” becomes transformative.
When we focus our efforts to reach the lost and faithfully preach truth in a relevant way, the mission of the church is a natural response.
Multiplication starts at the individual level and builds from there. This creates an evangelistic culture. If there is not a culture of multiplication that is built first, it will likely not happen on a greater scale (multiplying members, then multiplying attendees, then multiplying service times, etc).
For instance, it would be hard to assume a church would be motivated to do the work (praying, preparing, giving the funds, being inconvenienced, etc) of planting a new church if the members of that church aren’t personally willing to share Christ with those around them. However, if an evangelistic culture has been built at the individual level, and people own their responsibility to pass along their faith into others, there is a natural progression of multiplication that ascends through the church and culminates in a desire to create more space and more opportunity in order to reach more people.
So when the culture of a group of Christians includes an expectation of reaching more people, having more locations creates the opportunity for those people to share their faith with non-Christians around them (evangelism).
The quickest ways for a healthy church to accommodate more guests is to add another service time, another location, or plant a new church. Just as having two services enables a church to conveniently reach more people than one service, having two locations (or another church) gives more access to guests. More locations gives more access for more people to come to a service. One of the reasons that many churches don’t grow is not because they don’t have a service worth coming to, it’s because there is limited access to that service.
Salvations / Baptisms
Creating an evangelistic culture and giving guests an opportunity to attend church can lead to people coming to Christ. The parable of the seed (Matthew 13) indicates if we are able to scatter more seed, more people will be able to hear the message. If more people hear the message then salvations will occur.
Multiplication is simply creating more access for people to hear the message of Christ; every step we take of multiplying ourselves should result in a larger number of people hearing about Jesus. Though not all will recognize their sin and turn to God, some will, and their first step of obedience should be to proclaim their devotion to Christ through baptism.
Healthy Churches develop leaders that focus on making fully devoted followers of Christ. Every action is filtered through the lens of, “How does this help everyone know God and make Him known.” In other words, empowered leaders seek to know God and meet the needs of others. There is now room for self.
Healthy Churches use small groups as the conduit for discipleship. Small Groups are where the church learns to be on mission, creates their evangelistic culture, reaches their friends and neighbors with the gospel message (salvations and baptisms), and leaders are being empowered. Small Group multiplication occurs when people grow in their awareness of their God given potential to “go” make disciples.
Church Plants are the natural next step for healthy churches. A church surrendered to the mission of Jesus (The Great Commission), will be driven with a burden for those far from Christ. Churches with a multiplying DNA will seize opportunities to expand their influence whether that is enlarging their facility, capitalizing on the multisite movement, or commissioning some of their core for the purpose of planting a new church.
Church planting never begins as a strategy though; it always starts as a conviction. Healthy churches don’t plant churches to get a notch in their spiritual belt, or as a pure church growth strategy, churches plant churches because they recognize that the local church is the hope of the world and every community needs a place where Christ’s message is shared, His light is shined, and His love is shared.
Sagebrush’s momentum is unique to their context. Gauge the health of your church by answering these questions. If you do not have a clear, confident answer for each of these questions your church multiplication is at risk of becoming ineffective.
- How does the church’s multiplication help clarify the mission?
- How does the church’s multiplication create an evangelistic culture?
- How does the church’s multiplication impact the number of guest attendees?
- How does the church’s multiplication produce a higher likelihood of salvations / baptisms?
- How are leaders empowered through the church’s multiplication?
- How does the church’s multiplication grow small groups?
- How does the church’s multiplication cultivate an environment ripe for church planting?