The Secret of Church Multiplication — by Rev. Dr. Peter Meier

church planting 2In the December 15 “Mission Moments” from the Center of US Missions, Dr. Meier writes,

David Jackson, in his book, Planted: Starting Well, Growing Strong, emphasizes the same thing. He writes, “I’ll tell you the “Miracle Gro ®” secret right up front: evangelism. In fact all of these elements will have limited or meaningless impact unless they are married to evangelism. It is the single most significant ingredient that enables church plants to grow so well” (p.4).

The secret to church planting is really no secret at all. The goal of church multiplication is to introduce people to Jesus (evangelism) and to help them mature in their faith (discipleship). Evangelism and Discipleship are the two key elements in planting and growing any church. 

In a comprehensive research project on  The State of Church Planting in the USLifeWay researchers note the importance of evangelism for new churches.

“We have found that new churches who have success seeing unchurched people engage with their church are the churches who have a public presence, an intentional strategy to reach those who are unchurched, and who create opportunities for the message of Christ to be shared with unchurched people” (15).

I have said that “evangelism” is the scariest word in the English language. For some reason, we who are long-time Christians, seem to be reluctant to share the greatest gift we have been given. We allow our fears to hold us back, to keep us from introducing our Best Friend, Jesus, to others. Evangelism doesn’t have to be a scary thing. The word evangelism literally means good newsing or good messaging. Who doesn’t want to share good news?

Evangelism doesn’t have to be rocket science. In fact, the research project also notes,

“What is fascinating, however, is that a few methods that might seem to be dated are actually quite effective at reaching the unchurched. Things like door hangers and door-to-door strategies were identified as successful measures that a new church can take to help reach their unchurched communities” (15).

The research suggests that

“simply doing something might be more effective than creating an elaborate strategy. Churches who do something, in respect to evangelism, are much more effective than churches who don’t… It’s reminiscent of the quote that is often attributed to D.L. Moody, I like the way I do evangelism better than the way you don’t do evangelism. We need a generation of churches that utilize as many evangelism techniques as possible” (17).

Here’s a basic strategy for you to implement:

  1. Pray. Who are three people in your network of relationships who are not connected or disconnected? Start by praying – for them, for yourself too, that you might have the words to say and the courage to say them when the Holy Spirit provides the opportunity.
  2. Love and serve them. In this way , your words will be proven authentic. As Michael Frost, suggests, live a questionable life, so that they will ask you the reason for the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15). When they ask, be sure to share Jesus!
  3. Gather. You can always invite them to come to events at your church, or simply gather with believers in your neighborhood. Christmas time is a great time for this! Concerts, parties, worship services and similar events are great ways to introduce friends to Jesus.
  4. Expose them to the grace and Word of God. Let it be evident in your life and words. Welcome and accept your friends as ones for whom Jesus came and for whom He shed His blood. Let them see Jesus in you.

Beyond the most basic strategies, you might add special events for kids, flyers, posters, use of social media (it’s free!), prayer walking, neighborhood Bible studies, sports leagues. All of these were shown to be effective by the research. Be creative. Be intentional. The point is simply to do something!

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