Re-thinking Church Multiplication

I’m currently in the middle of  a week spent teaching church multiplication to  a “family” of church planters called, “Nexus.” I met the leaders at a recent Exponential gathering where we decided to team up. I am impressed with their vision and values. They’ve planted nearly 50 healthy churches.

They, on the other hand, are trying to make the leap from a church planting network to a church multiplying movement. The network brings together relative strangers who they filter, train and fund as church planters. If you’re a church planter at heart, but your goals  don’t fit with your current tribe, I suggest that you look toward  these folks with an eye to hooking up.

Moving From Addition To Multiplication

The reason they asked me to come is that they still plant from a central “vision center” rather than from local churches begetting churches (the defining aspect of a church multiplication movement). The love is palpable and I can only envy the care they offer. But the leaders understand that centralization limits the scope of their ministry. They hope to place more authority in the hands of the local church. At a church planting level, they intend to move from addition to multiplication.

This means creating a new scorecard built around disciplemaking and church multiplication.  How many get to quit their job to plant a church, or the number of people in church on a weekend poor standards of success. Many of their pastors are bi-vocational and proud of it. They comprehend the financial capital a bi-vocational leader brings to the table. They also understand the doors bi-vocationally pastors open to multiplying many more churches. A bi-vocational pastor meets the mission field, five days a week.

Successful People Changing Focus

I want to be careful to repeat that many of their churches already plant churches. Some during the first year. They believed in church multiplication before I showed up. However, multiplication has yet to become a central driver. The goal here is to make that the focus of the ministry rather than a peripheral event. Some of these guys are heroes!

We discussed the fact that most larger American congregations are middle-class, White or African-American affairs. This is sad in light of the immigration that constantly re-shapes our country. How will we reach 128 language groups represented in the Los Angeles City School District? To reach those pockets of people we will need to bridge to their cultures, through bi-racial marriages, friendships on the job or even meetings with the owner of the corner store. Middle-class churches don’t do particularly well at integrating ultra-wealthy, or very poor people either. To bridge those gaps, a movement needs to undergird local church planting opportunities rather than govern them.

A New OS

Another hot topic for us is the thought of exchanging the operating system from seminary as a pre-qualification for ministry to disciplemaking, and proof of followers,  as entry points for potential church multipliers.

These guys enjoy enviable success throughout the Midwest from the Rio Grande to the Canadian Border and from the Mississippi River to the western slopes of the Rockies. Yet, they clamor for skills necessary to leap from a church planting organization to a church multiplication movement. While meeting with them, I’m learning as much as I’m teaching and hope you will check them out at




5 thoughts on “Re-thinking Church Multiplication”

  1. Very good article. Yes the mainstream churches are missing out on some opportunities to reach the poor and those from other cultures. More reached more converts. Praise God for the Church Planters

  2. So relevant to us right now; we’ve been ministering to the inner city poor through laundry love but where do we go from there? Their culture, language and socioeconomic status are worlds away from ours though they literally live only miles away. Praying for God’s direction.

  3. Ralph, thank you so much for spending the last few days with us and getting the chance to hear your vision and Mission to plant multiplying Church for the purpose of Kingdom growth. I and my team walked away with our minds blown and very excited for the future of our ministry. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to kick back and dive deeper in this discussion.
    In Christ,
    Jason Duke
    Mckinney Tx
    Ranchland Church

  4. Ralph,

    Thank you for sharing your time with us at Nexus’ ThinkNext conference. The name of our conference is exactly what you did for us…you made us think about what is next. The move from church planting to multiplying is both inspiring and challenging. The implications to the advancement of the kingdom are obvious. The questions this paradigm shift brings will for sure continue but they are absolutely welcomed. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

    Landon Collard
    Journey Christian Community
    Waco, TX

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