Add + Multiply

Why we need a micro and macro strategy to create a movement of multiplying churches

Todd Wilson

In the blog post below, Exponential Director Todd Wilson focuses on the need for the U.S. Church to both add and multiply–to pursue a micro and macro strategy for the start and advancement of a movement of multiplying churches in the United States. 

My friend Rick Ruble loves to play the board game Risk. I don’t remember much about the game, but I do remember Rick’s passion in saying, “Think globally, act locally” repeatedly. The strategy fueled his nearly perfect winning record.

Another way of paraphrasing this strategy is, “you must have a micro or local strategy close to home for adding the next one, and simultaneously a macro strategy for multiplying your impact beyond your local context.” Like Rick knows so well, the two strategies must work in tandem.

This principles of this micro/macro strategy actually find their roots in Jesus’ Commission to make disciples (Matt. 28:19). The truth is that all multiplication has addition at its core: reaching the “next one.” Jesus handed down a model of personal discipleship and evangelism that is solidly addition growth. Our local or micro strategy in church must be to create environments where each and every follower of Jesus can participate in addition with a focus on their personal sphere of influence.

At the same time, we must simultaneously and intentionally have a “macro” strategy that looks beyond our local context and seeks to extend and multiply churches. The macro strategy recognizes that the most powerful way to multiply is to create new churches that become platforms for addition at the individual believer level. Macro results give new contexts and frontiers for micro strategies, and it’s the micro that wins new people to Jesus.

To begin to move forward with creating a movement, the micro (addition) and macro (multiplication) must work in tandem. Movements represent the intersection of a healthy balance between the addition and multiplication strategies; a movement multiplies through addition, with life-on-life and one-on-one relationships offering the best context for adding disciples. The micro (or local) does the heavy lifting of adding while the macro (releasing and sending) gives the context for multiplying. It takes a unique culture to fuel multiplication and movements thinking.

So how do we pursue the addition (micro) and multiplication (macro) simultaneously? It starts with intentionality. We must purpose to continually ask ourselves, “How do we help everyone in our church reach their ‘next one’?” while simultaneously asking, “How do we release and send people to reach the next 100,000?”

Unfortunately, our focus in the U.S. church has focused primarily on micro addition; we have neglected the macro multiplication.

Something Is Just Not Right

As we press into our Exponential 2015 theme of igniting a culture of multiplication, our team set out to identify 10 radically multiplying U.S. churches. When we use the word “radical,” we’re talking about churches that are multiplying in a way that’s so different and so aggressive—compared with our current paradigms and measures of success—that few people would argue whether it’s addition or multiplication. The fruit of these churches is such a testimony that these congregations are adding disciples while radically multiplying without the need for a definition.

We hoped to find just 10 of these churches that we could highlight and learn from. With more than 350,000 churches in the United States, that 10 represents just .003 percent of churches. We spent months looking and inquiring, but we couldn’t find 10. We couldn’t find even three.

Something is just not right. If the church is made to multiply, why don’t we see it?

Why is it easy to find wildly successful growing churches doing all the right things for growth for addition at the “micro” or local church level? It’s far more difficult to find radically multiplying churches like Ralph Moore’s Hope Chapel who are experiencing and igniting multiplication growth. Today, more than 700 churches can trace their roots to the seven churches Ralph started. That’s multiplication! Far more significant than the current numbers is the reality that those 700 churches have multiplication so deeply embedded in their DNA that the resulting additional churches—which will be started over the next 10 years—will likely be mind-blowing.

Church leader/planter, you are perfectly positioned, amid all your struggles and tensions, to be a change maker. That change starts with embracing new ways of thinking. Moving the needle from less than 0.005 percent to greater than 1 percent and then to 10 percent will take a groundswell of next-generation leaders like you who will look beyond the prevailing measures of addition growth and adopt new scorecards of multiplication growth.

Bottom line is that we can’t establish a multiplication culture without bucking conventional thinking and making some radical decisions. How prepared are you? Are you willing to:

  • Plant your first church before building or buying your first building;
  • Send your first church planter before accumulating your first two to three staff members;
  • Commit the first fruits of your financial resources, tithing 10 percent or more to church planting, even before paying other essentials like salaries;
  • Plant your first church before starting your first multisite;
  • Come alongside and coach other church planters in your area who can benefit from your encouragement and experience;
  • Start or join a church planting network, locally or nationally, to collaborate with others, find accountability for multiplying and building a multiplication culture, and get involved in more than you otherwise could?

This article is an excerpt from the new FREE eBook Spark: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication by Todd Wilson. Download your copy here.