You can hear these thoughts expanded in a podcast through iTunes or other platforms–search “The Ralph Moore Podcast”
Let’s look at six primary fuel sources that could potentially make the unsatisfied Great Commission a reality during the next hundred years. Think of these as forces which drive any church multiplication movement.
A Visionary Sponsor
Management guru Peter Drucker once observed, “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” Be it Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, McDonald’s Ray Kroc or inventor Thomas Edison, “narrow-minded” people lead the rest of us into a better future. To turn the flow of American culture back toward Christ, we need extremely focused individuals who can see that adding to the size of their churches has more value if addition results in multiplication. These are people who will build capacity to multiply rather than settling for geocentric addition. Addition should result in a greater capacity for multiplication. My question to you is, “Could you become such a monomaniac?”
The Backing of a Healthy Church
Most growing churches give substantial amounts of money to overseas missions. Many sponsor annual mission trips for church members while some liberally fund missionaries on other continents. However, most of the tangible resources in American churches go toward maintaining status quo. Status quo may include addition growth, but it’s still an exercise in more of the same. A church that achieves Level 5 multiplication will reallocate resources to mission rather than maintenance. If you don’t already know, the Great Commission is the mission.
Microchurch as a Startup Tool
The idea of microchurch is not an end in itself. It is a tool for rapid multiplication of disciples and churches. The ideal would be for a freelance microchurch pastor to reproduce themselves multiple times with each new pastor doing the same. However, some will grow to macro status and may never reproduce. The power in this concept is that it offers a low-risk opportunity for the pastor of an existing church to launch a few disciples into a church planting experiment.
Because a freelance pastor maintains their career there is limited financial risk to both the sending church and the new pastor.
A microchurch is more than a Bible study. Bible studies come and go. As soon as you identify a group as a church, things change—some abandon you; the rest get serious. Simply using the word, “church” changes the nature of the thing from something temporary to an enduring relationship. Add in the concept of tithing, and people either climb onboard or they get out.
I believe microchurches represent the next (and absolutely necessary) step in churches’ influence on American culture.
An Army of Freelance Pastors
We need to take a closer look at the concept of freelance, pastors. Currently, the bivocational paradigm is somewhat distasteful. After all, we invest time, money and life itself in educating ourselves toward what we hope is full-time vocational ministry. As time passes, we discover that they can’t lead a congregation large enough to sustain their family (many Level 1 churches and pastors fall into this category). The choices are simple: 1. Resign from the church to take a better job. 2. Take a second job to supplement your income.
We often think of Paul as a tentmaker or bivocational leader. That source of income appears to have been a fallback when he lacked funds. Scripture paints a different picture of Aquila and Priscilla and their ministry. They were tentmakers who planted ministry in Corinth before Paul arrived (Acts 18:1-3). They did more of the same in Ephesus (Acts 18:18-26) and Rome (Romans 16:3).
Aquila and Priscilla seemed to have embraced tent making as their primary funding source, even after engaging in ministry. They planted from their career. Aquila was a career entrepreneur doing ministry on a freelance basis. Paul was a ministry guy serving bivocationally, in our current understanding of the concept. There is a difference in the motivation and the need for funding. Aquila lived with liberated finances. Paul did not.
Persons of Peace
Evangelism is often a family affair. Wherever we go with the gospel, Jesus tells us we’re supposed to connect with a “person of peace” (Luke 10:6). Through this person, we’ll reach their tribe. As we bond to this single individual, we find our way into their tribe. This reflects the New Testament idea represented in Peter touching the “oikos,” or, household, of Cornelius (Acts 10:1- 48). Cornelius was the person of peace as was Lydia in Philippi (Acts 16:14, 40) or Crispus in Corinth (Acts 18:8).
If there is any “secret sauce” in the multiplication process it is perseverance. Whatever success I have known in church multiplication is simply the result of relentless pursuit of the Great Commission via disciplemaking that leads to equipping church planters from within the local church.