Building a Church Reproduction Factory

How to Effectively & Efficiently Multiply

November 5, 2015

A Factory mindset

Recently I was with a group of pastors and business leaders from Southern California. Our discussion was focused on how to most effectively and efficiently multiply churches. To get the conversation rolling, I simply wrote, “Build a car vs. build a factory” on the whiteboard and said, “discuss.” It was fun to sit back and watch them share their thoughts and reflections. The reality is that there is a huge difference between building a car and a factory even though the final product, or deliverables, are similar. The conversation was really focused on these questions:

  1. How much time, energy and resources do churches spend launching one church plant or even a campus as opposed to spending the same amount of time, energy and resources to “build” a factory that will plant many churches?
  2. What is the most effective way to multiply and reproduce what we do best?
  3. What ecosystems and infrastructure must be in place to best support numerous church plants and Church Planters?
  4. What is the most effective and efficient way to launch high impact, sustainable churches that transform communities and cities?
  5. How does a church build a culture of multiplication or a church planting culture that over time becomes a multiplication movement?

Remember these are bright guys. Here is a summary of some of their observations:

Building a Factory:

  • Is about economy of scale
  • Puts emphasis on the process (clear beginning and end)
  • Reduces costs
  • Is about long term strategies and vision
  • Increases productivity
  • Is more sustainable
  • Focuses on a specialized skill
  • Produces a more reliable product
  • Requires bigger vision
  • Is less resilient to change and transition
  • Has more flexibility and adaptability
  • Involves many specialists and experts
  • Involves increased accountability
  • Is focused on goals and measurables
  • Is easier to export
  • Requires leadership

Building a Car:

  • Dependent on skill of labor
  • The process tends to move slowly
  • Is difficult to reproduce
  • Can be more costly than expected
  • Requires resources that are difficult to find
  • Creates a product that is less reliable
  • The builder determines the process
  • Only needs small vision
  • Has less risk

In my opinion there are some great observations here. Here are some of my conclusions from our conversation.

  • Building a “factory” to plant churches may actually take less effort than just planting one and reproduce at a much faster and more efficient rate.
  • The guys in the room are vision guys, builders and entrepreneurs. When talking about the building a factory, they seemed way more energized about how it could impact the church and new communities.
  • One Pastor noted that by planting a church, it doesn’t change much of how we operate. By building a factory that rapidly produces churches, everything about the current state of the church must change. There was energy around that thought!
  • It’s easy to stop after planting one church, but building a factory to multiply multiple churches keeps you focused, accountable and productive, therefore the results are greater.
  • It’s hard to plant churches regularly without a system in place to multiply rapidly.
  • Factories produce a more sustainable product, they can endure change and in the end they are far more cost efficient.
  • Factories have way more resources to get the job done.

In closing, on my street there are 2 houses with custom cars in the garage and one house with a kit airplane. We have lived on our street for over 12 years and in that time the cars and airplane have never left the garage. I know the owners and at one time they had dreams of what they might produce and someday drive or fly. Their dreams have become places to store boxes and barriers to walk around in the garage. I asked one of my neighbor’s when and why he decided to give up, he said years ago! “It was hard work, I’m not a specialist and I don’t have all the resources I need to finish the project. I thought it would be easy and it wasn’t. I keep it because someday I plan to finish what I started.” Interesting perspective from a guy who thought he could build a car but hasn’t.

At the end of the day it’s not about building a factory, but an ecosystem that can support and sustain a church planting movement and build a culture of healthy multiplication of churches.

A factory that rapidly produces of churches is what Todd Wilson & Dave Ferguson call a “Level Five” church in their new eBook Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church. In the video below, Chris Lagerlof talks about this kind of “Level Five” multiplication.


Chris Lagerlof leverages his experiences and relationships as the Executive Catalyst for Mission Orange County, which exist to Mobilize and multiply churches in Orange County to collaborate within their cities to impact every man, woman and child with repeated opportunities to see, hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ – Chris also serves as a Lead Associate with Slingshot Group, a non-profit passionate about staffing + coaching churches towards the remarkable – Chris is a strategic thinker, project specialist and experienced leader. Chris worked for 17 years as a Pastor and Champion of several ministries at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Chris lives in Irvine with his wife Kristen and their two daughters Tessa and Mandy.

Email @chrislagerlof

Chris Lagerlof

Chris Lagerlof

Chris Lagerlof currently serves as the chief catalyst for Mission Orange County, which exists to mobilize and multiply churches in Orange County to collaborate within their cities to impact every man, woman and child with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Chris is also a senior leadership associate with Slingshot Group, where he is relentlessly focused on helping Kingdom-minded leaders and organizations thrive. Chris is a strategic thinker, project specialist and experienced leader. His passion is to help leaders and churches move forward by maximizing their focus, clarity and performance. Chris worked for 17 years as a pastor and champion of several ministries at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. He lives in Irvine with his wife Kristen and their two daughters Tessa and Mandy. Chris likes to golf, cook, snowboard, travel and tailgate with his family and friends at UCLA football games.
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