I challenge you to start asking: How will we multiply God’s Kingdom?
The fifth and final hero maker practice is Kingdom building—a shift in counting. Instead of counting the people who show up at “my thing,” you begin to count the leaders whom you send to go out and do “God’s thing.”
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus shows us what to count. He tells His followers to make it a priority to, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.” The only thing that matters—that ultimately counts—is advancing the Kingdom of God. If we’re really serious about becoming hero makers, we need to make a shift in the questions we ask.
A Kingdom-Advancing Question
Most church leaders ask, “How do I grow my church?” It’s a good question, but there are better ones. Let me tell you why I think we need to rethink this question by looking at it in four parts:
How do I…: The third word in the question is where we need to start because I think we may have the wrong pronoun here. Nowhere in Scripture do I see anything that says we’re supposed to do ministry alone. God wired us for relationship with Him and with others. We’re meant to pursue His mission together, as one body. What if we said, “I want to do this through multiplying leaders.” So the first part of this question now becomes, “How do we …?”
How do I grow … Growth is a good thing. Healthy things grow. We want our churches to grow. But we don’t grow to create seating capacity. This is where the shift comes in. We want to grow to create sending capacity. That’s a big difference. If that’s the case, then maybe instead of “grow,” we use the word “multiply.” So the next part becomes, “How do we multiply …?”
How do I grow my … The next word we have to look at in this question is “my.” As leaders, we fall into the trap of thinking this is “my church.” But let’s be honest. We’re just stewards of God’s church. It’s not our church. Maybe we need to ax “my church” from our vocabulary because it’s God’s church. So instead of, “How do I grow my church?” maybe we should be asking, “How do we multiply God’s ….?”
How do I grow my church? Let me make a fourth correction because when we say “church,” we almost always mean church with a little c, my local church, the one that’s underneath my steeple. Actually, what I think we see in Matthew 6:33 is that what Jesus is really concerned about is the Kingdom. So what if we began to ask, “How do we multiply God’s Kingdom?”
Two Church Problems and Two Kingdom Measurements
You see there are two problems with the question “How do I grow my church?” The first is that it’s entirely possible for church attendance to be growing but the Kingdom of God is shrinking. In fact, there are more people going to church in the United States than ever before, which may make us think We’re winning. The truth is we’re not winning because a smaller percentage of the population is attending church. It’s also entirely possible for a church to be growing, but the impact is shrinking. A church’s growing attendance does not promise that people are growing spiritually. Attendance graphs that are up and to the right don’t guarantee that people are faithful in following Jesus. I believe that for Jesus, winning was measured most in expanding God’s kingdom.
Ultimately, God is concerned about transformation. If we’re going to be salt and light, we have to change how we count. Hero makers change their scorecard for success. Let me encourage you to start with measuring two Kingdom-building stats that any leader—from a senior church leader to a small group leader—could use to shift how they gauge success:
- Measure your current number of apprentices. Ask yourself: How many people am I investing in? How many people am I mentoring to be commissioned to go out and do, as Jesus said, “greater things”? How many people am I intentionally taking through the five essential practices of the hero-maker process?
- What’s your cumulative number of apprentices—the number of apprentices you’ve developed and maybe they’ve developed? Try to keep track of that number. In fact, your goal might be that you can’t keep track of your cumulative number because it gets so out of control you almost lose count after the third or fourth generation.
Giving Birth to the “4-10” Mission
For the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to provide leadership for Exponential as the president of the conference and chairman of the board. The growth we’ve seen has been simply amazing.
After the Exponential East conference sold out for the first time, I went to Todd and asked, “How do we know whether the Exponential conference is really winning?” Yes, attendance was selling out and we were fast becoming the largest church-planting conference in the world. But were we really multiplying God’s Kingdom?
This conversation led Todd and me to the “4-10” mission. Realizing that only 4 percent of all churches in the United States ever reproduce, we determined to put all our efforts and energy into moving the needle to 6 percent, then 8 percent, and ultimately 10 percent. We began to count differently. Our scoreboard at Exponential shifted from primarily measuring attendance to measuring how many churches become Level 4 and 5 churches!
If you want to assess how you’re doing with creating a multiplication culture, you and your team can determine your level by taking the free Becoming Five multiplication assessment at www.becomingfive.org.
When you quit asking, “How do I grow my church,” and start asking, “How do we multiply God’s Kingdom?” you begin to focus on what matters to Jesus–His priority. Hero makers are Kingdom builders who don’t just count who shows up at my thing, They count who they’re sending out to do God’s thing.
If you want to learn how you can become a hero maker and join this mission, then check out our 2018 Hero Maker Conference. It will feature 175+ speakers, 200 workshops, 9+ tracks, and 5,000 church planting leaders in sunny Orlando, Florida. Don’t miss the largest gathering of church planting leaders in the world.
Dave Ferguson serves as president of Exponential while leading Community Christian Church and overseeing the NewThing Network. His new book (with Warren Bird), Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders, releases February 2018. Visit exponential.org/2018 to learn more about hero making at the the upcoming Exponential conference in Orlando (Feb. 26-March 1).