How Can You Move From Addition to Multiplication Growth?

Leading your church to be part of a Kingdom movement of multiplication requires a change in your operating system

November 3, 2016


What does it mean to change the operating system in your church and move from addition to multiplication growth? How does the operating system function in a church? How can a system upgrade move your church toward Level 5 multiplication?

Leading your church toward Level 5 multiplication will require change, most notably a change in your operating system. If you value multiplication and want to see your church involved in a Kingdom movement, changing the current operating system from addition to multiplication is a non-negotiable.

A few other things you should know about about changing your church’s operating system:

First, we need to understand how operating systems work and why they’re important. Exponential Director Todd Wilson explains the role of operating systems in both life and our churches and then addresses why our prevailing operating systems aren’t producing multiplication.

Author and missiologist Alan Hirsch helps us understand what leaders must do to change the operating system and why senior leadership must be “all in” even when a very small group of the church (less than five percent) will be involved or interested. Check out this training video and use it for team discussion. Possible question: Are we ready to unlearn what we’ve spent years refining and perfecting? 

If you’re not sure if your church is multiplying or adding, author Neil Cole offers an insightful checklist to help you evaluate your practices. Grasping the difference between addition and multiplication is essential to the decision to upgrade. If you think you’re multiplying but essentially you’re adding, you won’t make the necessary changes. Instead, you’ll be stuck in addition. Also, Exponential has developed a self-assessment tool that takes about 30 minutes to complete. You’ll get immediate results, indicating your church’s level and pattern of multiplication. As Cole says in this podcast from Exponential East, “If we want to multiply, we need to let the old system pass so that new things can come. We can’t mix up addition and multiplication. It’s too important.”

Next week: We’ll be talking about the importance of assessment. Our resources will look at why moving toward multiplication requires both self-awareness and a picture of your church’s multiplication level. To get these resources throughout the week, follow @churchplanting on Facebook and Twitter.

Below are summaries and links to the week’s resources plus additional ones to check out to learn more about leading a multiplying church:

A Change in the Operating System/video featuring Alan Hirsch                                            Alan Hirsch explains that if you want to change your church’s operating system from addition to multiplication growth, you’re in for a journey of unlearning.

Rethinking the Church’s Present Operating System for Future Multiplication by Todd Wilson                                                                                                                                                   Why the Church’s prevailing operating system isn’t producing the transformation needed to fuel future movements of multiplication.

Is It Time for an Operating System Upgrade?/podcast featuring Neil Cole                         Level 5 multiplication requires us to stop adding and initiate a new system for multiplication

Additional resources for changing the operating system


Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church by Neil Cole (Jossey-Bass)

The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church, 2nd Edition by Alan Hirsch (Baker Publishing Group)

Guardrails: Six Principles for a Multiplying Church by Alan Briggs

The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting Churches by Bob Roberts Jr. (Zondervan)

On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church by Dave Ferguson and Alan Hirsch (Zondervan, Exponential Series)

The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim (Jossey-Bass)

The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost (Baker Books)

The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes That Hinder It by Roland Allen (Wipf & Stock Pub)

Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird (Jossey-Bass)

FREE eBooks

Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church  by Todd Wilson and Dave Ferguson

Spark: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication by Todd Wilson

You Can Multiply Your Church: One Journey to Radical Multiplication by Ralph Moore


Making Disciples, Multiplying Churches/podcast featuring Ralph Moore

A Movement Starts with You/podcast featuring Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson

Play Thuno: The World-Changing Multiplication Game/podcast featuring Larry Walkemeyer

Movement Simplexity: Becoming 5 in All 6 Elements of mDNA/podcast featuring Alan Hirsch and Jessie Cruickshank

Starting a Movement/video featuring Ajai Lall

Starting at Level 5/podcast featuring Justin Moxley and Chris Hornbrook

Blog posts/Articles

Upgrading the Operating System of the Church by Neil Cole

What’s Your Operating System? by Wade Burnett

Be part of the multiplication conversation at the upcoming Exponential East conference in Orlando, April 24-27. Click here for more information and to register.






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