Below are my personal notes from John Worcester’s teaching. I may have “Kevinized” some points, but the original thoughts are 100% John’s.
Are we open to paradigm shifts? A paradigm is a rule of thinking that defines the way we play the game. We’d often rather change data coming in instead of changing our mindset. Whatever does not fit into our paradigm we either disregard or morph it to make it fit. We all agree following Jesus is a good idea, BUT most people aren’t really serious about following what He said and did… especially when it does not fit within our paradigm.
God speaks to us primarily through scripture and secondarily through creation. Both scream out the great mandate: be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. Like every other organism in creation, the church is an organism with that mandate.
Two tragic facts:
- Weak male “ABS”- Adult Baptisms that Stick
- Often takes 100 members over the course of 1 year to baptize 1 adult
- ABS are truest evidence of conversion growth
- Majority of churches are “mule” churches- hard working and sterile
- 90% of churches never plant another church- 80% have plateaued
- It takes 100 churches 1 year to plant 1 other church
In the animal world this is the path towards extinction.
There’s a strong link between fact 1 and 2. Church-planting proves to be the best tool to reach adults- especially men.
Why are new churches better at reaching adults?
- Natural– Fruit grows fastest on new branches. New growth is where you find new fruit- whether planting new churches or new evangelistic expressions of the church (ex: new missional communities, multisite)
- Sociological- A new church is more sociologically porous. The longer a church is established the harder it is for new people to connect.
- Psychological– Over time the church becomes majority seasoned Christians- often advanced in their churchianity. When someone feels like a 1st grader among 12th graders, they won’t stick. Men especially are competitive and don’t want to enter into something where they sense failure. We need to begin more first grade classes.
- Scriptural– Jesus planted the seeds for hundreds of churches. Paul did the same thing.
If planting new expressions of the church is the best way to reach people, then why don’t we do it more?
The solution for a plateauing church is repeatedly sending out core groups to start new evangelical expressions focused on different people or places. God fills the void. The major reason churches don’t plant churches is the church growth myth. The church growth myth= your church will keep growing larger and larger if you only do the right things. Conclusion: if your church isn’t growing then you’re doing the wrong things (which might be true at times).
God determines the size of the church. Every living organism has DNA that determines its size. God gave us the natural world as an illustration for what He’s doing in the spiritual world. Living things…
- Have predetermined sizes- determined by DNA. You cannot feed a rabbit enough to grow it into an elephant.
- Grow fast during their early stages. The earlier the stage the faster it grows. A newly conceived baby doubles size in the first two weeks.
- Plateau in size as they mature. Look at an 18-20 year old person or a 2 year old dog.
- Die. They aren’t meant to live forever. They go through a life and death cycle. How many churches in the New Testament still exist today?
Remember God’s mandate: He wants to fill the earth, which happens by being fruitful and multiplying. Churches should grow fast to their DNA size. If we cannot do it early, we probably can’t do it. GET AFTER IT IN THE EARLY DAYS. Even in VT we can grow from 5 to 50 in a couple years–> that’s 1000% growth rate. That’s faster growth rate than the fastest growing mega-church. The longer it goes, the slower it grows. When we plateau, we need to start pumping out the babies- reproducing churches. This requires shifting our mindset from fast growth to frequent reproduction. Then eventually we will shift to faithful giving– supporting those who are on the front line like a grandparent supporting their young descendants.
The only math that produces a movement is multiplication. Many churches are either in unrealistic growth mode or survival mode rather than reproduction mode.
How does a church plant a church? Discover, Develop, and Deploy Church Planters. Number one issue: leader readiness.
Pour you life into those few who will plant next. Fruit is one tree, but much fruit is in the orchard. We can plant things- only God can make it grow (Paul planted, Apollos watered). We are co-laborers with God. Church planting is a form of death. People leave family and friends. Planter die to relationships, safety, security, careers, so they can bear much fruit. John 12:23-26,
Two type of churches: churches that multiply and disobedient ones.
How do we (our churches) do this?
- Get off birth control. Choose to reproduce.
- Cast the vision to our people.
- Intentionally become a 3D church- discover, develop, deploy apostolic leaders.
- Let your ready leaders (church planters) recruit people to plant with them.
- Don’t have too big a baby- it will either kill you or hurt real bad. (if you’re a church of 50 don’t send out 30)
Most churches start with the wrong core group- all mature Christians. When you begin gathering (regardless of setting), you need a balance of seekers and solid believers. Jesus did. Paul did.