Church Multiplication

Planting New Churches

Planting New Churches
“In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3

Church leaders need to understand from the beginning that healthy churches reproduce – it’s a biblical concept. The church in Antioch was not very large when they were led by the Holy Spirit to send out Barnabas and Saul, their most outstanding leaders, to plant churches. Later when Paul founded the school of Tyrannus, which was basically a church planter development centre, a riot broke out and he was accused of “convincing and leading astray large numbers of people in Ephesus and in the whole province of Asia” (Acts 19:26). The church kept multiplying and multiplying all the way throughout Asia, and its influence was felt strongly.

A general rule of thumb is that new churches should plan to plant another church within the first three years of their life as a church. The likelihood of a new church planting another church diminishes significantly after three years. Planting a church at that stage of life means taking risks – sometimes financial risks, sometimes the risk of giving people away, and always the risk of shifting our focus from our own congregation to the wider work the Lord is doing.

That’s the primary shift in thinking that is required for churches to be intentionally engaged in multiplication – turning from an inward to an outward focus. Multiplication is inherent in the creation principle: everything reproduces after its own kind. The true fruit of an apple tree is not just an apple, but another apple tree. A person can count the number of seeds inside one apple, but only God can count the number of apples inside one seed. Just as disciples reproduce disciples and ministries reproduce ministries, churches reproduce churches.

What makes the difference between a church plant and a church multiplication movement? The second, third and fourth generation. New churches must stay engaged in the planting process if multiplication is going to become a reality. Not only is that involvement necessary for subsequent generations of churches, but the health and vitality of the parent church depends on it.

Healthy Church Multiplication happens through an intentional process of:
  • Increasing the health of existing churches
  • Assisting existing pastors to cultivate commitment to planting and multiplication.
  • Offering potential parent churches coaching support and membership in a parent church network
  • Assisting pastors to recognise and develop emerging church planters
  • Keeping the vision of church planting and multiplication alive in new churches.

For further insights into these elements, check out the other articles in this section of the Blog.

Colin Noyes is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has thirty years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors.

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