In 2008, when Dusty Thompson planted Redeemer Church in Lubbock, Texas, he did so with a clear vision around church multiplication. His goal? Redeemer would plant 20 new churches domestically and send out 20 missionary groups by 2020. Not only did the church meet that goal, but it surpassed it by planting many churches that then went on to plant daughter and even granddaughter churches.
As an Acts 29 church, multiplication was in Redeemer Church’s DNA from the very beginning.
“The way we went about that was mostly opportunistic,” says Ben Lagasse, co-executive pastor at Redeemer Church alongside Keenan Harris. “If you talk to almost any of our church plants, they each have a unique story, whether it is the planter or how the church plant came to be. We were just very open handed when those connections popped up.”
The church plants that have arisen out of Redeemer are mostly in Texas, but a few are in New Mexico and Oklahoma. By 2015, Redeemer had planted enough churches that it made sense to formalize the Redeemer Network in order to train, fund and support church planters and new church plants. Redeemer Church decentralized Redeemer Network, which is led autonomously by leaders from member churches.
“That has opened up a lot of multiplication opportunities,” Lagasse says.
They even added an additional arm of the Redeemer Network called Catalyst Collective, aimed at replanting or revitalizing stagnant churches.
“There is traction with that,” says Harris. “There are churches we didn’t plant but that are showing interest in joining the Redeemer Network for networking, for encouragement, but also for equipping, Lord willing, to see revitalization in their church.”
Though Redeemer Network continues to plant churches in all contexts, Redeemer Church has evolved its own multiplication strategy over the years to focus specifically on planting largely in a collegiate context. Considering Lubbock is home to Texas Tech University, college ministry fit their model.
“Ministering in a college context has borne a lot of fruit,” Lagasse says, adding that they “feel one of the best ways to do our church planting is in other college contexts.”
Harris adds they worked with church planters who were looking to plant in Austin, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona, through Redeemer Church’s two-year church-planting residency.
“They’re going to focus [largely] on reaching college students, because that is when the data would show most people come to faith,” he says. “That’s when you have a lot of agility in making decisions with your life and considering going to the nations. That’s when it’s easiest to leverage those things and send people out.”
It has proven to be an effective strategy to help college students in Redeemer’s own backyard catch a vision for church multiplication and help church planters establish the next generation of church-planting churches.
“You meet lots of college students,” Harris says. “You learn what it is like to reach a campus and meet students, to share your faith, to draw them in. Then they can go do that at other college campuses across the nation.”