How to Multiply a Missional Community

August 5, 2013 — 4 Comments

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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How to Multiply A Missional Community

So far in this series, I’ve talked about why, when, and when not to multiply.  Now it’s time to dig into the “how” – what steps should you take, and what is important to multiply well?  I’ll tackle each of those in turn.

First, though, let me say this.  Go through the process of multiplication prayerfully and involve your community and leadership in the discussion.

What steps should we take to multiply?

First, assess the health of your group. Make sure you know where you’re strong and weak!  Second, identify a leader for the new community that will be forming, and ensure they have a clear sense of purpose.  I’d strongly urge that you take some time for this new leader to clarify their vision and help them work through the details of practices in their new community.

Third, have that leader recruit a small core of people.  Don’t just divide up a group along geographic or demographic lines!  Have the leader recruit a core of people who legitimately want to go join in this new mission.  You want to ensure that you have people from your existing community who have said “yes” to joining in both the vision and practices of this new community.

Next, pray like crazy together for a season.  Pray that God would soften hearts to hear the gospel, and that new disciples of Jesus would be made.  Consider having a commissioning prayer time with other missional communities to send them well.  Bottom line, pray, pray, and pray some more!

Lastly, regroup after a month or two for a celebration and to reconnect relationally.  The task of multiplication isn’t complete at launch.  You will definitely want to carve out time to circle back around and debrief the experience, as well as celebrate together!

What is important to multiply well?

As I have multiplied communities and helped other communities multiply, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Recognize the difficulty.  Multiplying can be tough relationally…don’t shy away from it.  Celebrate the relationships that have formed, grieve their change, and move forward in faith that obedience to God’s word is the greatest source of joy.
  • Take it slow.  Multiplication isn’t a divorce, and it doesn’t mean you can’t have joint gatherings.  Consider doing an event all together once a month for some time.
  • Send a core, don’t just divide up a group.  For multiplication to be legitimately effective, the participants in the group have to want to multiply.
  • Multiply into many groups rather than just two.  Sometimes the most effective task is to multiply along the lines of LTGs, and try multiplying into 4 or 5 different communities.
  • There’s never a perfect time to multiply.  If you’re waiting for “just the right time”, then chances are good you’ll be waiting until Jesus comes back.  The right time to multiply is when there is a leader and a mission, which isn’t always convenient.

What else do you think is important to consider when it comes to multiplying a group?

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.

4 responses to How to Multiply a Missional Community

  1. Appreciate the materials you have posted here. Would you consider a post on identifying the mission and the process of clarification, especially in the context of starting a new MC?

    I am thinking along geographical lines, network-of-relationships, common interest lines, workplace, etc. I recognize the need to focus, as well as the danger of making an exclusive mission which does not account for folks that need the Gospel but would not fit into the MC’s mission.

    e.g. If you have a workplace focus, what about your neighborhood? If you focus on your neighborhood, what about your network scattered all over the city? How do you focus the mission without ignoring some people?

    Thanks for your input. Really helpful stuff…

  2. Sure thing bro! Thanks for the idea and the encouragement!

  3. Todd,
    Vanderstelt mentions starting new communities with “shared leadership”. Would you lean more towards have an established leader and core vs multiple leaders in one community?

    • I lean towards having a leader whose primary role is to keep the mission the center of what they are doing. Other forms of leadership are really crucial, but having one clear leader owning the mission is really critical for me.

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