What Does It Take to Become a Church That Plants Other Churches?

Veteran church planter Larry Walkemeyer shares 10 winning multiplication moves.

Until we have a strategy for multiplication, we aren’t serious about multiplication. Too many strategies sit in notebooks on shelves collecting dust. The best strategy is the one we’ll actually use. Learn about multiplication, select a model, put it into practice and adjust it as you go.

Question: How clearly thought through and written out is your multiplication strategy?

6. Discipleship

We have countless definitions for discipleship, but I believe a person is considered discipled when he or she can lead another person to Christ and adequately train him or her to be a disciple maker.

Multiplication is not an isolated approach to expanding the church; it is an outgrowth of disciple making. If our people aren’t multiplying themselves through disciple making, then moving toward multiplication is really just imposing another program on people. Multiplying churches begins with disciples multiplying disciples.

Question: To what degree is your church actively engaged in discipleship that makes disciples?

7. Financials

Jesus’s words in Matthew 6:21 are brilliant: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” In that simple line, he revealed the inner workings of the human heart. Getting your heart and mind into multiplication begins with putting your money there.

For three years, Light & Life budgeted for church planting by putting money into a special fund each month. We could have used that money on several urgent needs and some really cool desires, but we refused to touch that church planting treasure chest. As the treasure chest grew, so did our passion to plant a church.

Question: To what degree does your budget demonstrate your church’s commitment to multiplication? What level of sacrificial investment have you made in that direction?

8. Small Groups

One of our leaders started a small group with no intention of becoming a church planter. He had a vision, however, for the small group to be atypical—they would serve their community, reach the lost, challenge one another toward full deployment of their gifts, and start new groups. In 12 months, this leader was in my office talking to me about starting a church. Within another six months, he and his network launched a powerful new church.

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Small groups must be repurposed around a multiplication agenda where saints are actively discovering their gifts through using them; interceding together for the harvest fields; equipping one another to “go”; serving on mission together; and planning the next group they’ll start within the year.

Question: To what degree are your small groups thinking of multiplying themselves? In what ways are they contributing to the launch of new churches?

9. Stories

Storytelling is the glue holding your tribe together—whether it’s capturing, highlighting and retelling stories of disciples who are making disciples; small groups starting small groups; or new churches being planted.

The ancient practice of sitting around the fire telling stories of courage and honor demonstrated and shaped the values of the tribe. If we desire to fire up the flames of multiplication, our church tribe must tell the right stories, tell them well and repeat them often.

Question: What stories are shaping your church today?

10. Metrics

What you treasure, you measure. What you expect, you inspect. What you cherish, you chart. Every leader and every church has an internal scoreboard that is constantly adding or subtracting points. Each scoreboard is particular to that leader or church based upon their values and vision.

Our challenge is building a scoreboard that measures what truly matters most. Our current scoreboards tend to be built around the quick, easy, visible “points.” At the start, multiplication is slow while addition is rapid and attractive. For our church, Kingdom measurements are a combination of what we call “stats and stories.” We ask, “What are the numbers?” and “What are the names?” “What are the facts and who are the faces?” As we focus our scoreboards on multiplication values (disciple makers, reproductive small groups, church plants that plant churches, etc.), we acquire a much more accurate view of our Kingdom impact.

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Question: Is your internal scoreboard aligned with multiplication values and vision? What about the scoreboards of leaders on your team?

Is Your Church Multiplying?

Determine your church’s level of multiplication (Level 1-5). Register for a free online account at church-multiplication.com, answer the multiple-choice questions (about 30 minutes to complete), and then review your results. Based on your responses, the online assessment provides you with your church’s multiplication profile and multiplication pattern.

The multiplication profile is based on five cultures of multiplication that Exponential has identified:

Level 1 (subtraction, survival or scarcity mode)
Level 2 (plateaued, survival and tension between scarcity and growth)
Level 3 (growing by addition but not multiplication)
Level 4 (reproducing)
Level 5 (multiplying, releasing and sending)

Larry Walkemeyer is the senior leader of Light & Life Fellowship in Long Beach, California. Learn more about multiplication in his new Exponential book, Play Thuno, and the upcoming Exponential East conference at Exponential.org.