Multiplication > Addition
Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird in their text Viral Churches offer, “We believe church planting is the best way to take the church to the people it needs to serve. We believe new churches are the best platform for followers of Jesus to live as salt, light, and doers of good deeds in our communities.” They even go so far as to label church planting as the “new evangelism.” After reading this text I was filled with both excitement and sadness. I was thrilled to see the numbers they presented which show church multiplication as one of the most, if not THE most, effective form of evangelism today. With new churches yielding high numbers in conversions, baptisms, and individuals engaging in community, it is clear that the church at large must learn how it can multiply its presence in our nation and abroad.
What saddened me about these numbers is that unless youth ministries begin to give students a new paradigm for ministry, future generations will continue to base church movements in addition rather than multiplication.
According to David Garrison in Church Planting Movements, the third element present in every church planting movement is the “intentional planting of reproducing churches.” If one were to overlay this principle of church planting movements with the typical paradigm of youth ministry, you would discover that in most cases, youth ministries do a poor job of empowering students with the mindset of multiplication. Rather than empower students to transform their schools with the gospel, students take the safe route and bring their friends to church so that WE can share the gospel with them. Rather than providing an atmosphere that encourages abundant evangelism, many student pastors are content to simply have students bring a friend. While this method of passive addition has helped get us by in the past, we must begin to transform our understanding of what students are capable of.
I believe that we must develop an understanding of multiplying discipleship groups. If we want to see future generations multiplying the body of Christ, we must begin to instill in students a taste and hunger for multiplying the body rather than adding to it.
What if we were to encourage abundant evangelism and celebrate with students when a small group gets to multiply when it exceeds eight students? What if these two groups of four as they walked in discipleship sought to intentionally incorporate four more members to their group? Could this start a process of discipleship and evangelism where we see Middle Schools and High Schools changed? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that this method has led to the rapid reproduction of home churches around the world. Do we believe that our students are capable of starting a movement in their schools? Do we program our discipleship accordingly? Something to think about.