… In this world, you will have trouble … (John 16:33)
Jesus’ words to His disciples offer us specific truth that we can take to heart as we pursue God’s heart for multiplication. Regardless of whether your church is a Level 1 or a Level 4 or 5 (or somewhere in between), you will have tension. The Level 1 church that lives in a scarcity culture will not suddenly find itself tension-free when it graduates to a Level 3 church. The tensions will simply shift to new ones.
So the key questions for you and your church are not, “Will we have tension?” or “How do we avoid tension?” The game changer is how you leverage tension to grow and more deeply embed a culture of multiplication in your DNA. You must make an intentional decision to act and behave like a multiplying church (Level 5).
The list of tensions is a mile long. However, nearly all of those tensions find their roots in three common factors: our motives, our measurements and our methods.
Tension of motives (here or there?): Is the church I lead (or will lead) going to be about my kingdom or God’s Kingdom? This tension is rooted in our definition of success. Is our vision limited to accumulating and growing larger here (where we are), or is it balanced with an equal focus and passion for sending there (the next church)? As 2/42 Community Church planter and Lead Pastor Dave Dummitt told leaders at Exponential West 2016, “Start your ‘here’ (the church you’re planting) with ‘there’ (the next church you’ll plant or support) in mind. If you focus on ‘there,’ then ‘here’ will take care of itself. In that first year phase, it’s so important to get this ‘here/there’ tension right.”
Tension of measurement (grow or send?): Will this church I lead be about growing or sending? This tension is rooted in where we prioritize our focus: Where do we focus our time, talent and treasure? Our methods (or practices and behaviors) are where we bring a multiplication culture to life. At the core of the tension of methods is how we allocate our time (activities), talents (leadership), and treasures (finances) to building local and Kingdom capacity. How do we balance the tension between building local capacity to grow bigger local churches, and building global capacity to send and release resources to start new churches? Will your primary measurement of success be about your church or how many churches you can start?
In our live gatherings throughout 2016, Dave Ferguson reminded leaders that growth requires us to consistently ask ourselves: Will we increase seating capacity or sending capacity? If the answer is sending, then we have to develop new metrics because, “what you measure improves and what you celebrate gets repeated.”
Tension of methods (safety or risk?): Will I live out my years coasting through life, or will I take risks to do something new and grow God’s Kingdom? At the core of this tension is how we allocate our time (activities), talents (leadership), and treasures (finances) to building local and Kingdom capacity. What will we actually do, and what hard decisions will we make to become a Level 5 multiplying church? Good intentions will not move you from Level 1 to 5.
Planter and pastor Albert Tate encouraged leaders at Exponential West ’16 with the truth that, “God is not done with you. He has something greater for you.” Drawing from the lives of Moses and Abraham, Tate pointed out that God has a reputation for tapping us on the shoulder just when we’re comfortable in life and saying, “Trust Me and let’s begin again!”
To overcome the Level 3 growth-focused scorecard, we must embrace new motives, measures and methods and be courageous change makers. Think of a specific tension you’re currently dealing with in your church and ask yourself: What would it look like to respond to this tension the way a multiplying church would respond?
The Exponential eBook Spark: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication highlighted 18 different tensions that churches will face in moving from Levels 1, 2, and 3 to Levels 4 and 5.