Church Multiplication Movements
In the early 1990’s, C. Peter Wagner described Church Planting as “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven”. Not long after that leaders were talking about Churches planting Churches and a few years ago, Ed Stetzler in the forward to the book Be fruitful and Multiply said, ‘Bob Logan* teaches us how to move from Churches planting Churches to true planting movements’.
As the worldwide emphasis on Church Planting continues to move to Church Multiplication, it is important that the theory also moves to application. I hope you are convinced that Church Planting is good but Church Multiplication is better.
One of the major themes of the Book of Acts is the “spontaneous expansion” of the church. Imbedded in this expansion is the amazing way in which God works for multiplication in his Church.
The first church planting team in Acts “reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). God does the work and he does it wonderfully through that team. Luke, the narrator of the book of Acts, repeatedly narrates what God is doing as new churches are planted and the gospel progresses. Luke shows historically and contextually how the Church, started by the Lord Jesus Christ, continues to expand as the Holy Spirit works through his disciples. This expansion is geographic, but growth is quantitative, qualitative, and organic. Luke records for believers in every age what the church should look like.
There are a number of marker points in Acts (6:1 & 7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20 and 28:30-31) that serve as “summaries” indicating that there is amazing growth taking place. Three are particularly intriguing because they talk about “multiplication” – one of the things God loves to do.
- “In those days when the number of the disciples was multiplying” – Acts 6:1
- “So the word of God increased, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem multiplied” Acts 6:7
- “Therefore the church throughout the whole of Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit it was multiplying.” Acts 9:31
In each of these cases, the Greek word plēthunō is used. It speaks of not just adding to the church as in Acts 2:47 but a true multiplication of believers. This is the same Greek word used in Exodus 1:7, 10, 20 for the supernatural multiplication of the children of Israel in Egypt. The Exodus 1 passage makes it very clear that this multiplication came about by the God of creation who in Genesis 1 told man to be fruitful and multiply. The God who works supernaturally in the Old Testament now works in the New Testament to do the same miraculous multiplication but this time it is the Church that is multiplying.
In his book, Color Your World with Natural Church Development, Christian Schwarz says that one of the six growth forces relating to the church is that of multiplication. And Schwarz explains that this is not just a multiplication of believers but a principle that works out in all that we do in church planting. He was once asked by Donald McGavran, the Father of the Church Growth Movement, “What is the true fruit of an apple tree?” Schwarz replied, “It’s an apple, of course.” Then McGavran said, “You’re wrong. The true fruit of an apple tree is not an apple, but another apple tree.” Schwarz continues: “the true fruit of a small group is not a new Christian, but another group; and the true fruit of an evangelist is not a convert, but new evangelists; and the true fruit of a church is not a new group, but another church; and the true fruit of a leader is not followers, but new leaders.” p. 95
Roland Allen in his book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes which Hinder It says, “When the church is truly alive, spontaneous multiplication takes place and spontaneous expansion of the Church involves not merely the multiplication of Christians but the multiplication of Churches.”
Today, intentional church multiplication movements are the most effective vehicle for reaping a greater harvest for the Kingdom. We can all see multiplication in our church planting effort as God works supernaturally. There is plēthunō (multiplication) when there is pneuma (the Spirit) at work. This is exactly what the book of Acts states.
In the book Be fruitful and Multiply, Bob Logan* outlines a straightforward, intentional and reproducible process to aid in the multiplying of churches across the face of the globe. Below are the key elements he puts forward:
- Spiritual Dynamics
- Shared Vision
- Planting New Churches
- Multiplying Networks
For further insights into these elements, check out the other articles in this section of the Blog.
* Dr. Bob Logan has worked in full-time ministry for over 35 years as a church planter, pastor, missions leader, consultant, and ministry coach. He is internationally recognized as an authority in church planting, church multiplication, church growth and leadership development. Bob’s current areas of focus are coaching, speaking, and developing leaders in missional, incarnational contexts.
- Be Fruitful and Multiply
- Cultivating Multiplication Movements: Coaching Guide with Storyboard – Ministry Specific Resource (PDF)
- Cultivating Multiplication Movement Storyboard – Ministry Specific Resource (PDF