Insights From the Journey to Radical Multiplication

Hope Chapel movement founder Ralph Moore shares the critical lessons he's learned over four decades of planting churches

Exponential

Beginning with just 12 people, the Hope Chapel “movement” founded by Ralph and Ruby Moore now numbers more than a thousand churches worldwide. In the post below, Moore, who’s currently planting Hope Chapel Honolulu, offers three of five specific lessons he writes about in his new FREE eBook, You Can Multiply Your Church: One Journey to Radical Multiplication

Lesson 1: Our Model Is Broken

In Hawaii, we’ve been able to plant churches in public schools for three decades. When I first arrived, churches in public schools were illegal. As the laws changed, new congregations used the schools until they filled them all with churches. After that, a new problem arose. A lawsuit resulted in school rents costing more money than many startup churches can afford. So our model is broken in two ways.

1. First, we ran out of schools, and then the schools became too expensive. Our own church is fortunate to be in a movie theater, but the costs are extreme. A smaller congregation wouldn’t be able to afford the rent. We are beginning to look at the “simple church” model as a possible alternative. It is both scalable (a church can grow to any size) and infinitely reproducible.

2. Second, across America we’ve bought into land-intensive models with an eye toward building megachurches. There will probably always be land-hungry churches. However, we should not allow land use to dictate the growth of the kingdom (or lack thereof). If we really are intent on bringing the world to Jesus, whatever model we choose must be infinitely reproducible.

Lesson 2: A Clear Vision Carries the Day

Vision is born in the heart of God. It’s not enough to attend a seminar, learn some new tricks, and then go home and pop out a vision statement. When thinking about vision, remember these essential characteristics:

The vision for a local church should:

  • be rooted in the scriptures and in the heart of God.
  • be biblical and must reflect the process described when you link together the Gospels and Acts. reflect disciple making that results in new churches, to fit that paradigm.
  • project long-term goals and ought to be global in scope.
  • be narrow enough that it’s easy to describe in a 30-second “elevator speech.” As leaders, we should be able to repeat the overall vision of the church on an almost weekly basis somewhere during the public meetings.

When we moved to Hawaii, we had a vision for reaching one percent of the population (which was actually 10,000 people) in churches that we planted or assisted others to plant. We packaged it in terms of “100 churches with 100 members each.” That’s not the way it happened, but it was easily quantifiable and that made it easy for people to buy into what we were doing. In our current situation, we envision:

  1. Planting 30 churches over 20 years.
  2. Investing reproductive DNA in each church that we plant.
  3. Establishing a strong church multiplication presence in three countries outside the United States.

Those three statements are biblical, global in scope, and easy to remember. They are realistic with the possible exception of the second one. We know this because so few churches actually do reproduce. However we’ve chosen to set the bar high in the thinking of bringing in potential church planters to our congregation.

Lesson 3: Multiplication Far Outstrips Addition  

Many years ago, I was waiting with a group of men to go on a platform as a speaker at a convention. Two of the men were presidents of different denominations. One had read one of my books and was aware that we multiplied churches. He asked how many churches we had planted. At that time, the number was just over 100. He suggested that if each church averaged 100 in attendance that we had the equivalent of a megachurch. I felt a little embarrassed by the conversation, but he had a point. Assuming that the average church is closer to 75 in average attendance, we still managed to reach far more people away from our city than we did at home.

After this, we began to track the number of churches that had come from the original small congregation in Southern California. Keeping track of our numbers, however loosely, helps to make a point that there is more power in church growth through multiplication than there is in church growth through addition. In other words, to launch more churches is more productive than building larger churches, if you’re forced to choose. The truth is we’re all forced to choose. Compare the total attendance of 1,000 small churches to that of any large church, and you’ll see my point.

There is a side benefit to multiplication that few people seem to observe. This is the fact that most leaders, myself included, will never pastor a megachurch. However, a great many leaders are capable of meeting the needs of a smaller congregation, which means you don’t need the best person to do a job. Rather, you need a capable person. Think about the National Football League. The league has only one best (MVP) quarterback. If a team owner waits to field a team until he has only the best, he probably will lose his franchise. Teams go with the leadership that they can find. Also please note that often the best quarterback still doesn’t win the Super Bowl. We are engaged in a great contest over people’s souls. Before we put our hand to the plow, we must go with the best we can get rather than waiting for the very best.

This post is excerpted with permission from the eBook You Can Multiply Your Church: One Journey to Radical Multiplication

 

Ralph Moore is the founding pastor of three churches. He and his wife Ruby live in Hawaii, where they are currently planting Hope Chapel Honolulu. Beginning with just 12 people, the Hope Chapel “movement” now numbers over a thousand churches worldwide. These are the offspring of the 70-plus congregations launched from Ralph’s hands-on disciple making efforts.

Moore currently travels the globe, teaching church multiplication to pastors in startup movements. He has authored three other books on disciple making and multiplication, including Making Disciples, How to Multiply Your Church and Starting A New Church.