Here are five intentional steps you can take to start a church planting movement.
A multiplication movement requires intentionality. God can do what he desires—and a movement can be birthed. Yet, historically, there have been intentional actions of prayer, obedience, multiplication and more that have preceded most movements.
Movements have often required planning, deliberation, strategy and effort. Although God promises to bring in the harvest, he calls for the workers to go out into the fields. We believe churches, networks and denominations can do the intentional work of cultivating the ground for a church multiplication movement harvest.
Though certainly not an exhaustive list, there are five basic steps that churches could take that would help make multiplication movements a higher priority.
1. Have multiplying leaders who serve as catalytic mobilizers. With regard to a movement of multiplication, leaders cannot make a movement, but they can shape the culture of a movement by sharing the vision, developing leaders, creating processes and mobilizing teams. In other words, level-five leaders serve as catalytic mobilizers through intentionality. Thus, having humble, persuasive and passionate leaders who lead the charge of multiplication is a great place to start.
2. Inspire others through transformational stories of the gospel. Stories grant the information and the emotional connection of how the gospel, the greatest story ever told, is moving in and transforming the lives of people, families, communities and cities. Thus to help motivate and mobilize a church and believers to join the train of multiplication, find and tell stories of the impact the gospel—through church plants—has had on communities and individuals.
3. Celebrate both the small and large wins of your church. Remember, what you celebrate, you become. In parenting, we call it positive reinforcement. If your child behaves appropriately, you celebrate and reward them. The celebration and reward instills in the psyche of the child to continue acting in the same manner. When your church participates in giving towards church planting, brings in a planter to apprentice, goes on a short-term trip to help a church plant or sends out a church planting team, celebrate it! By taking the time to celebrate your church’s involvement in church planting—regardless of how small or big—you focus your people’s attention on the goodness of multiplication, and, over time, you construct a culture that actively pursues multiplication.
4. Be aware of the opposition and negativity towards multiplication. There’s always a cold-water committee in every church—even in newer ones. There will always be those who are content with their one church. And nothing can splash cold water on a tiny spark of a movement quite like someone dismissing or undermining a church planting work. For a church multiplication movement to succeed, you will need to have leaders willing to confront and respond in love to the opposition and negativity towards multiplication. While it’s not necessary to have 100 percent buy-in from everyone in a church about multiplication, there is the need to have unity.
5. Trust and follow the Spirit. When we follow the Spirit, he, in accordance to his Word, empowers us to share, show and spread the gospel, which in return births a disciple making movement that becomes an exponential movement toward multiplication.
When I was on a mission in Thailand, I remember talking with the pastor of the orphanage we were serving in. He asked me if I had noticed how many 7-Eleven’s there were in Thailand. Initially, I didn’t notice—maybe because I grew up with so many 7-Eleven’s peppered throughout Vancouver. But after he asked me the question I realized that every community we drove through had a 7-Eleven in it, or close to it. He then shared with me, “That’s my church-planting vision for Thailand. Everywhere there’s a 7-Eleven, I want there to be a church.”
Just as my pastor friend desires to see a 7-Eleven type of movement in Thailand, we too desire to see a church multiplication movement in our generation. But to even have a chance to see one, we must not only pray to the Lord of the harvest, but we must be intentional in cultivating the ground from which the harvest will come.