When churches become healthy, thriving, and begin to live “sent” they accept the mission God has given them.
They realize that they are missionaries in their communities and always looking for the lost and un-churched to build relationships with them.
They practice personal worship daily but also look forward to corporate worship with great expectation and anticipation.
They realize that spiritual growth occurs best in small groups.
They are dedicated to disciple making and have a system in place to help mature believers.
They want to be healthy so they can glorify God and multiply.
It’s just that simple: Anything healthy reproduces!
Many Christians consider themselves “mature” because of how long they have been saved or because of how much they know about discipleship or the Bible, but the true mark of maturity is that they are reproducing. We ought to be seeing reproduction and multiplication in every aspect of our lives and our churches:
Christians should be reproducing other Christians.
Small groups should be reproducing other small groups.
Sunday school classes should be reproducing Sunday school classes.
Leaders should be reproducing leaders.
Disciples should be reproducing disciples.
Churches should be reproducing other churches.
You might being saying to yourself, “I was with you up until that last one, but hold on a minute. My church is not that big, and now you say we should make two churches from one already existing one? That sounds crazy!”
Paul emphatically says “imitate” me. What was his ministry all about? Multiplication! Usually his travels in the New Testament are referred to as Paul’s “missionary” journeys, but really they were “church planting” journeys.
C. Peter Wagner’s oft-quoted statement applies here: “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.”
Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird say in Viral Churches that the following statement should be added to it: “ . . . who in turn reproduce themselves.” This is not the latest trend, theory, or program but the clear strategy of the early church.
The book of Acts was and is about spreading the gospel to the whole world (Acts 1:8). In order for the gospel to go somewhere, a messenger like Peter, Philip, Barnabas, or Paul had to carry it, and just about everywhere they went churches were established (Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, and Macedonia).
“True followers of Christ will not keep the gospel for themselves, but will reproduce it over and over again in others . . . Thus, we have the many letters of the New Testament written not to believers in Corinth, Ephesus, or Thessalonica, but to churches gathered in those places.” You cannot deny the fact that Paul’s primary ministry was the planting of a “copious” number of churches.
Ed Stetzer gives three biblical challenges from Charles Spurgeon that have to do with reproducing and multiplying:
#1. “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”
#2. “We must transition our churches from a room full of customers to becoming co-laborers on mission for God.”
#3. “The Jerusalem church inspected church plants while the Antioch church planted churches.”
Which church do we want to be like; the one that examines and discusses what everyone else is doing wrong or the one that does it?
Dr. Stetzer challenges the 80/20 rule that says that 80% of the work in most churches is done by 20% of the people. He makes it clear that this should not be referred to as a rule, so call it what it is: SIN!
First Peter 4:10-11 challenges us to realize that every single soul that has surrendered to God’s grace is called to the ministry. We should not abolish the clergy but rather we should abolish the laity because everyone who follows Jesus has been given gifts, and we are called to be stewards of those gifts.
“But,” you say, “we can’t plant a new church.” I would challenge that because all of us should be involved in church planting one way or the other.
The question today is what are you going to do now, pastor or church member? Embrace multiplication in every area of your lives, churches, and ministry. We must become the messengers of the gospel God has called us to be right where we are.
There is no true gospel-centeredness unless it leads to mission. Who do you know that needs you to share the love of Christ with them? Where do we begin?
The answer? Christians reproducing other Christians is where we start . . .