Multiplying Missional Communities

July 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

Multiplication is a critical piece of effectively making disciples, and foundational to a movement.  This series of posts will explore different different questions about multiplying a missional community:

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Why Multiply A Missional Community?

If you have ever led a small community, regardless of what kind, then chances are good you have struggled with the reality of growing. Some communities close their doors and stick with the same people for years on end. Some groups burst at the seams.  Few groups tend to succeed when it comes time to multiply though.

If it’s so hard, then why should we even consider multiplying as a group? I’ve often been asked that question, and in my flesh tend to ask it each time a season of multiplication comes around.  Rather than give you an opinion, I figured it best to do a short fly-by of the book of Acts.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” ~Acts 1:8 (ESV)

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” ~Acts 2:46–47 (ESV)

“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” ~Acts 6:7 (ESV)

“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” ~Acts 9:31 (ESV)

“But the word of God increased and multiplied.” ~Acts 12:24 (ESV)

“So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” ~Acts 16:5 (ESV)

“So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” ~Acts 19:20 (ESV)

There is no question that the church of God, both in seasons of great triumph and great struggle, continues to make and multiply disciples through power of the Spirit in accordance with the Word.  Multiplying disciples will naturally lead to multiplying communities and ultimately multiplying churches.

Multiplication is the natural outcome of obedience, and movement requires multiplication.  It’s part of what it means to be the church!

Notice too, that much of the emphasis is on the Word of God multiplying.  Multiplication isn’t just about numbers, it’s about the reign and rule of God extending, and His kingdom being established through submission to His Word.  We multiply because we want to demonstrate God’s kingdom and proclaim the good news to more and more people.

Objections to Multiplication

Given that multiplication is an imperative for the church, it’s critical to consider when and when not to multiply.  I’ll cover those topics in the next couple posts, but I want to point out some common objections to multiplication.  In no particular order:

  • We don’t want to multiply because we really enjoy the way our community is going right now
  • We’ve tried multiplying before and it didn’t work
  • We don’t have enough people to multiply
  • We can’t multiply because no one wants to lead

I’m sure there are a ton more, but these are the ones I hear most often.  Each of these objections could have a variety of different motivations and explanations, and honestly some are valid reasons to not multiply a community.  In my experience, however, underneath many of these objections is primarily two things:

  • A fear of the unknown
  • A fear of failure

Many communities don’t want to multiply because they aren’t quite sure what will happen, and also are afraid that it might not work.

Responding to Objections

Although mission is an excellent catalyst for community, these are still legitimate fears, and we must acknowledge them as such, but address them through the lens of the gospel.  As a leader, we need to help people answer some questions.  Is that fear precluding your from obedience, or is it legitimate wisdom given the counsel of God’s word? What does that fear say about your trust in the sovereignty of God and the sufficiency of His word? How did Jesus fully trust and obey the will of the Father?

Finally, how does Christ’s death on the cross and victory in the resurrection empower you to obey and fulfill the commands of God by the power of the Spirit?

Addressing fear and unbelief with the gospel and the Word is the first step to faithfully multiplying disciples, communities and churches.

What have you found to be helpful in addressing the issue of multiplication?

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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