The emergence of church multiplication networks is a healthy trend in church multiplication. These networks confront the status quo and heighten the profile of church planting. Despite this new focus on church planting, the American Church is only incrementally better in planting than we were in 2007.
Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church is one of the most important books I read in the past few years. It challenges the church in America toward a day when more than 10 percent of our churches are at levels 4 (reproduction) and 5 (multiplication). With only 1 percent of our churches at level four and none at level 5, we need to see some radical shifts!
Networks will be an essential part of creating a multiplication movement. But even within our networks, we need to see big changes. Here are four key elements you need to support Level 5 churches:
1. Culture – Create a multiplication culture at every level of your ministry
Good systems and determination will allow almost any church of any size to plant one or maybe two churches in their lifetime. But the demands and drains on the people and leaders often stops those ministries from continuing to multiply. Great networks create a culture of multiplication at every level. Instead of only making disciples, they make evangelistic disciplemakers. Rather than training leaders, they create apprenticing cultures were every leader raises leaders. Instead of planting churches, they launch church planting churches. Without creating a culture of multiplication, movement cannot sustain. Level 5 multiplication networks are not just focused on planting churches. They help their churches create a multiplication culture (from micro/individual to macro/networks).
2. Context – Form a low control/high accountability environment
Movements happen at the edges. Movement leaders are innovators that open new lanes of opportunity and pursue paths that others don’t see. Level 5 movement networks release control to maximize innovation and initiative. But without accountability to gospel, multiplication and core values, leaders drift. In the midst of freedom from control, great networks have high accountability to the mission and values that define their network.
3. Community – Form adventure-grade relationships
Part of the secret sauce in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was our desire to follow the adventures of the “fellowship of the ring.” These sojourners were on a mission where the future of Middle Earth hung in the balance. In The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch says that movements experience communitas, not community. Communitas is the kind of relationship forged in the context of adventure or adversity. It’s about creating a fellowship of sojourners on a mission together. Level 5 multiplying networks challenge their leaders to team-up for grand gospel adventures. They press them to do more than survive. They call them to transform their region. They encourage leaders to form relationship with each other around risk, danger and adventure. After all, people’s eternal future is hanging in the balance!
4. Competence – Engage in transformational learning environments
Multiplication requires leaders committed to constant learning. The learning environments that shape ministries include:
- Great content (truth)
- Actionable plans and clear metrics (action)
- Accountability to follow-through (relationship).
Level 5 multiplying networks provide these transformational learning environments as a part of the regular rhythm of ministry.