I still remember a very animated conversation I had years ago with my friend Canon William Beasley, who heads up the Greenhouse Movement—an Anglican church multiplication network based in Wheaton, IL. It was March 2011, and William had come to visit and put on a weekend conference to help us think more creatively about how to plant lots of new churches. The conversation centered on our need to think more in terms of multiplication than addition when it comes to church planting. He was standing firm in his belief that addition does not just lead automatically into multiplication when it comes to church planting. In other words, when our mindset is to think in terms of planting one church at a time, we will never just naturally grow into planting lots and lots of new churches simultaneously.
Part of my reticence to accept his point of view stemmed from my belief that most of us are thrilled just to see one new church get started occasionally. After all, a new church plant means more people coming to Christ, another community being served, and the Kingdom of God expanding. What’s not to like? William was contending that it is a question of expectations and the kind of culture we are creating in our diocese. In a multiplication paradigm, we learn to think exponentially and this grows into the expectation that our churches will reproduce on an ongoing basis.
Is it really possible for us to get there? William thought so. Now, I do, too.
In his new book, SPARK: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication, Todd Wilson, a close personal friend and one of the founding members of the Exponential Church Planting Network, shows how creating this type of culture actually results in being able to plant more churches with less effort. As if he was listening in on my conversation with William, Todd states that you can’t just go from Addition to Multiplication, but you can go from Multiplication to Exponential Growth, where “multiplication generates a chain reaction that increases the output in every succeeding cycle.”
After seeing how the Lord is blessing us with new churches in recent years, I now believe it’s critical to think in terms of multiplication. Doing so will not only make reproduction a normal part of who we are in the Diocese of the MId-Atlantic, but will also lead us to exponential growth. As part of our call to be a learning community and discover resources for our diocese, the Great Commission Committee read Ralph Moore’s book, How to Multiply Your Church. It’s the amazing story of how Ralph’s church embraced the principle of multiplication and went on to start over 700 churches. 700!!! Is that possible for us in our diocese? I truly believe it is. The key is learning to think in terms of multiplication.
In order to help us make this shift in our thinking, I'd like to invite you to come to this year's Exponential Conferencein Tampa FL . The theme this year is "SPARK: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication" (inspired by Todd’s book) and will focus on the principles of multiplication vs addition. The Great Commission Committee is once again sponsoring scholarships to cover the cost of registration and lodging for all who wish to attend the conference. There will be over 100 speakers representing the best church planting leaders in the county.
In order to take advantage of your complimentary registration and lodging, please contact my Executive Assistant, Desiree Barker at email@example.com.
In addition, Exponential has asked me to do a bonus session the day before the conference begins to share the Anglican experience gained in planting 500 churches the past five years. This session, Church Planting in the Sacramental and Liturgical Tradition, will be offered on April 27, 2015, by Dan Alger, Provincial Canon for Church Planting, Dr. Winfield Bevins, professor of church planting at Asbury Seminary, and myself. We would love to have you join us. The conference will be in Tampa, Florida, this year from April 27-30, 2015. We look forward to your joining us and to multiplying your church in the years to come.
The Rev. Dr. Tom Herrick is Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. For more information on Exponential East 2015, please see the article "Exponential 2015: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication," here.