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!