Throughout Scripture, the most basic words of our faith—hope, promise, Heaven, eternity—connect us to our future. Scripture is filled with verses that urge us to look forward. We anticipate what lies ahead and look to identify our role in God’s mission to redeem the world—essentially Jesus’ big dream of a movement spelled out for us in Acts 1:8. If we are to see a change in the scorecard of success in the U.S. church, we must first see a paradigm shift in our thinking, a shift that overflows and infects others. Big dreams prompt change. Big Dreams change our questions. Big Dreams change our prayers. Big Dreams change the people around us. Big Dreams change our churches. Big Dreams change us. The future of the movement of Friends lies outstretched before us! Your Home Missions team is currently envisioning how we can better come alongside the local churches of Mid America.
I find it difficult to address the subject of multiplication without at least touching on some very fundamental concepts of math. When it comes to church growth and church multiplication, words like “growth,” “subtraction,” “plateau,” “addition,” “reproduction,” and “multiplication” are unavoidable. As leaders, we tend to adopt our own definitions based on our unique context for church. Our temptation might be to look at our success and incorrectly conclude that we’re being obedient to Jesus’ commands and multiplying, or to look at our church size and mistakenly conclude that we can’t be a reproducing or multiplying church if we’re small.
Let’s start with a very simple and basic review of some mathematical concepts—just enough basics to equip you for the journey to becoming a multiplier. Rather than making up our own definitions, I’m embracing the terms that have been handed down to us through mathematics. These are not “secular or business” concepts but rather the principles that emerge from God’s creation. Subtraction occurs whenever the output result decreases with time. With every positive unit of effort, subtraction occurs with a loss or decrease in the output number. We all know the pain of seasons of subtraction. On the personal front, it might be losing loved ones. In ministry, losing team members is agonizing. Subtraction compels us to action. But subtraction is a normal part of life, including the life of a church. As we think about the first 500 churches founded in the first century after Jesus, all of these churches ultimately experienced subtraction all the way to their death. But the church is still around and vibrant today, but not because of the growth of churches, but because of the sending nature of churches.
Growth is the process of increasing in size. Growth can happen through addition, reproduction, or multiplication. Regardless of the strategy, model, or culture we embrace and pursue, growth is a primary goal. But real multipliers must throw off the shackles of an addition-growth scorecard, opting instead for the pursuit of multiplication growth. In all the turmoil of subtraction, we desperately pursue and seek out addition growth. But even addition is temporary.
C.S. Lewis once stated “You get to decide what legacy you will leave.” Don’t let the reality of subtraction discourage you, but do let it mess with your thinking. Addition-focused scorecards and cultures constrain us to less abundant thinking that moves from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4, and so on. By embracing accumulation cultures, we miss the abundance Jesus intends for us through multiplication. The best multipliers are leaders who surrender their personal addition-based scorecards to a far better scorecard using Jesus’ math. Multiplication carries the legacy of your church to future generations, far beyond the accumulation you achieve in your local context. That’s why sending out leaders to multiply and start new churches, and then continuing the movement into the future is so vitally important. Your sending capacity is your best asset, and your sending results could ultimately be your primary legacy.
We leaders here in EFC-MAYM believe our best days are ahead and not something we just dream about from time to time. The process of multiplication must be reflected in the local church. It is extremely difficult to multiply new ministries and ultimately new churches unless our congregations are multiplying new leaders and new groups at the local church level. We in Mid-America believe we must be about this sending of new leaders and ultimately new churches. Home missions team members are those regional leaders that have been designated by leaders from your seven Areas across Mid-America. And though our Friends congregations extend from south Texas in the Houston area all the way and including our newest church in St. Paul Minnesota, we do see signs of new life all around. So there are really great opportunities to expand the Kingdom of God. New opportunities require new vision and new leaders. Throughout the last two millenniums of church history, the Kingdom has advanced as new leaders and visionaries stepped into new territories and attempted new methods in obedience to our Lord Jesus’ command to go and make new disciples.
Our dream and our hope is that those apostolic workers from each congregation will join in the new opportunity to catch and share a new vision for sending new leaders on this exciting apostolic journey. May we be faithful. Please connect with these area multiplication leaders to whom you have asked to serve your Areas: Texas Area – Drew Davenport or David Byrne; COK Area – Nick Shaffer and Brad Wood; Western Area – Caty Zortman or Dennis McDowell; North Central Area – Jonathan Harkness; Northeast Area – Mike Herriges or Walt Mills; Tri-State Area – Josh LeeMasters; Central KS Area – Marc Compton or Carrie Corliss. These leaders and our new church planters already serving in various communities across Mid-America are our heroes, and God is calling numerous others of you to join their ranks in Jesus’ mission to build His Church to the glory of our Father in heaven. God is at work through His Holy Spirit! Amen.
– Randy Littlefield, Director of Multiplication Ministries