Skip to content

Rethinking Multiplication

At the beginning of our simple church journey, I was energized by the thought of rapid multiplication of churches. I read many Christian authors who describe the importance of simplifying our understanding of what constitutes a New Testament church so that multiplication can happen easily.  One of my favorite books to this day on simple church is The Rabbit and the Elephant.  This title was taken from the concept that simple things (rabbits) can reproduce easily and more quickly than Elephants.

Many have sought out strategies and programs that will finally provide the secret sauce to replicate what God has done in terms of multiplying movements.  Multiplication gurus have been created.  Multiplication ministries and even businesses designed to consult toward multiplication in the church have formed with little to no effect.; however after 12 years of our endeavor, we are not seeing the rapid multiplication here that has taken place elsewhere in the world.  

What are we to make of this?  

I am not sure exactly, but I do believe that God certainly is a God of multiplication.  From the beginning, we see that His design is for multiplication. “Be fruitful and multiply,” (Genesis 1:8) was his first instruction to Adam and Eve and I think this first relationship, a marriage, can go a long way in providing a better understanding of how God desires to multiply organic expressions of His family.

Consider the following:

  • Healthy marriages, where husbands and wives love each other, naturally result in the reproduction of more people.  It sort of seems silly to say this but think about it…when love is present, the natural course of events for most humans through most of the course of history result in children.  Reproduction is the fruit of love in the truest sense–love that involves sacrifice and commitment. 
  • Unhealthy family situations arise when reproduction happens apart from a loving marital relationship.
  • The only way to prevent a loving couple from multiplying is to impede the natural process with birth control–an unnatural intervention.
  • In some situations, the pressure and stress related to trying have children can actually impede the natural process from occurring.
  • Sometimes husbands and wives who love each other are unable to reproduce.  While these situations can be difficult and painful, couples dealing with infertility often are able to multiply their love in unique ways (fostering, adoption, service).

Couple these observations with the fact that Jesus Christ is the Groom and the Church is the bride and we can extrapolate three healthy principles regarding disciple and local church reproduction: 

1.  A real love relationship with Jesus is essential for healthy reproduction.

2. I can expect multiplication of disciples and even local church families as a natural result of a deepening love relationship with God and by trusting in His timing and creativity.

3. Eliminating everything that can artificially impede multiplication–including pressure to multiply–increases the likelihood that it happens.

In the future, I want to prepare for multiplication of disciples and churches, but not at the expense of creating artificial timetables, pressure to perform, and communities void of a deeper understanding of just how wide, high, and deep is the love of Christ!  Let us not loose sight of our “first Love” and may we be vigilant in boldly keeping things simple.

Let me know what you think below!

Please follow and like us:

9 thoughts on “Rethinking Multiplication”

  1. Sandy and I are still on the Journey here in NE Ohio, we are currently fostering and are leading a Launch group, Our New Life AOG Church is doing a form of Simple church, I am Reading a book by Caesar Kalinowski, Small Is Big, Slow Is Fast: Living and Leading Your Family and Community on God’s Mission. Praying for your today thanks for the update.

    1. Thank you Jim for the update and encouragement! Blessings to you and all that God has you touching there in NE Ohio! We’d love to have you all join us for this year’s conference/retreat at the end of October!

  2. I appreciated your post, Gavin! May the Lord lead us in multiplying local expressions of the Body of Christ more and more in the days ahead; and may His love shine through all of His “kids!”

  3. Great post!

    Multiplication is one of the many things that result form the overflow of Jesus’s abundant life. Sometimes I wonder how we might be missing out.

    I think you’re spot-on with our “holding fast to the Head” and keeping Christ as our first love and occupation. But when I look back at church history, it seems like context had a lot to do with how much multiplication took place.

    When 3,000 were baptized during Pentecost, I chalk this up to the response of a Hebrew nation recognizing their long-awaited Messiah. Also, the church has historically grown when the population has lost hope in everything else. Neither of these “forcing functions” are happening in America (but they still happen other places).

    I want multiplication to happen like anyone else, but maybe our role (as American Christians) is to remain faithful and keep Him in the forefront of all we do and who we are. When people see Christ operating, it’s a very attractive thing.

  4. I really like this train of thought, Gavin. I’m going to have to ruminate on it for a while. My first thoughts center around whether we are simply in a period of “infertility” right now in the US…

    Thanks for continuing to challenge and encourage!

    1. You and I have discussed this for a while now. A simpler way to describe it hit me during my meditation time this morning.

      Our infertility stems from two things. First, we have wasted our time in over-energized activities that bear little fruit (hello politics). Second, the ground itself is not fertile because the people haven’t suffered enough yet (the Lord owns the harvest from distress and sorrow – ref Matt 9:37-38; Rom 5:3-4).

      The second will take care of itself – the suffering will only intensify. If we spend the interregnum (Google it) in His pruning, we will be ready to reap when the time comes.

  5. Love this post! Been sharing and saying this to whoever The Lord allows me to do so for 2+ decades and running into much the same issue…although I have seen consistent maturity and discipleship in marriages and families who have walked in God’s Covenant Order and priorities…1) Worship Him alone and love Him with all your being; 2) know and love who you are in Christ so you can love others as you love yourself…and as He loves you (us).
    In line with your post, have found 2 things missing in every single person who’s struggling (most of them while regularly attending church, giving and serving…1) They don’t have any clue what it means, and how, to love God, and; 2) they don’t love who they are. And yet they are still “striving” to love others just like the churches tell them to without discipling and preparing them to do (or very little focus and effort toward) either of the things that are lacking. Thanks for all you do and praying for you daily! Make it a great day in and for The Lord (John 3:30)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *