Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Multiplication Questions

There's a new breed of churches in the US that are best called "multiplying churches." These churches don't talk about size, they talk about impact. Their goals are not how many people they can get into their worship services, they ask "how many people can we deploy as God influencers into daily life?"

Here's a few notable examples of these multiplying churches:
In our fellowship of Churches of Christ we are just now engaging the idea of multiplication in America. A few congregations among us, such as The Hills and The Branch are exploring and navigating the challenges of multiplying.

Kairos is now working with a second group of churches that are making moves into the multiplying world. We began this journey together at the multisite workshop hosted by the West Houston Church of Christ in May. We're looking at ways to energize one another and accelerate our move towards multiplying.

Moving towards multiplication thinking and acting is challenging. Multiplication is more than a decision. Multiplication is a whole series of strategic questions about a diverse set of situations that we have typically not been prepared to deal with. Here's a few of these questions that we meet immediately when we look at multiplying:

  • Leadership questions because multiplication will not occur on the backs of volunteer, committee based, elder leadership. Multiplying churches are led by God-blessed ministry leaders who lead with vision, courage, and even panache. We struggle to retain, train, and deploy such dynamic leaders, cuffing them into our committee-oriented leadership culture.
  • Structural questions because we are a fellowship that prides itself on being "family." What we mean is we are a nuclear family where everyone knows each other and sits around the supper table together. Multiplying churches live like extended families that have their own homes, their own family leaders, and their own family traditions. Multiplying churches ask questions of expansion; we tend to ask questions of consolidation.
  • Practical and traditional questions of theology because we have lived in a mono-cultural framework. For example, a significant question I have seen some of our churches wrestle with is can we do a "walking" Lord's Supper, getting out of our chairs and going to tables? Then we are faced with communion on Saturdays, or even Fridays. Multiplying churches plan for diversity because they know this is what will help them reach more people. We experience diversity as threatening because it challenges our traditional theological stance.
  • It raises questions of identity. Most of our churches are Sunday school oriented.  Multiplying churches are seldom able to express a traditional Sunday school orientation. They use a variety of discipling processes that are more flexible and dispersed--and challenging.  Our tendency is to let Sunday school dictate what we will do, or not do, in multiplication because Sunday school is what we do.
It's exciting to see a group of churches in our fellowship set their eyes towards multiplying. These churches will learn ways to address and answer the types of questions set out here. They will experience breakthrough moments of thinking and acting that will open the way for many more congregations to follow their example.

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