Several decades ago, Ralph Moore and his wife, Ruby, started a church that has spread into a multiplication movement of more than 2,300 documented church plants. Today, churches rooted in the Hope Chapel movement are present on every continent. Below, Ralph shares what Scripture has taught him about the call to multiply—essentially why he believes every church should attempt to be a Level 5 multiplier.
I’ve often been called a “monomaniac with a mission.”
While monomania has its negative connotations, I like the idea of a monomaniac being an executive champion of one idea, cause or project. Monomaniacs behave irrationally but hang in for decades to protect their disciples and bring an idea to fruition. In fact, management guru Peter Drucker once observed: “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.”
Seldom does a disruptive idea turn into reality without the presence of a monomaniac. For Walt Disney, it was animation (he nearly invented it) and entertainment. Steve Jobs was a freak for style. Winston Churchill knew he was called to lead his country through crisis. A monomaniac draws others together, finding greatness through the efforts of ordinary people. Monomaniacs look for opportunity in every person they meet, with their mission driving them to uncover avenues to help them infuse their vision into the networks they create.
In an American church culture that idolizes Level 3 churches and leaders, beginning life at Level 5 multiplication is a disruptive idea. Both Level 3 and Level 5 churches are sure to benefit from the presence of good networkers.
But Level 5 multiplication demands a catalytic personality that would sacrifice almost anything to bring others with them on the journey.
Probably the greatest monomaniac I know of is the Apostle Paul. He was a two-time monomaniac—first as a zealous Pharisee and then as the apostle who most closely emulated Jesus as a disciple maker. The Roman governor Festus called him “insane.” Paul even defended craziness, writing to the church in Corinth:
“If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit” (2 Cor. 5:13, NLT).
Like Paul, leaders of Kingdom-first churches are Heaven-bent on seeing disciples multiply, and they champion that cause every chance they get. Although Level 5 leaders operate much like those of Level 3 or 4 churches, Level 5 leaders look toward the future, three or four generations of churches ahead of the church they currently pastor. This kind of forward thinking keeps them central to the process of personally making disciples who will make disciples that can then disciple and multiply others (2 Tim. 2:2).
The Missing Value
If I qualify as a monomaniac, my one cause is that “none should perish.” My life project has been planting churches that plant churches—in short, building a Level 5 church-planting movement. As far back as 1990, church growth scholar Peter Wagner observed that, “New churches are the best evangelistic tool under the sun.” I’ve arranged my adult life around that statement.
I stumbled into Level 5 multiplication—before Exponential coined the term. My friends and I just began intentionally multiplying churches. Once we made multiplication our primary focus, the numbers of churches expanded rapidly as new churches made disciples and multiplied new churches.
My guess is that most pastors would agree that making disciples is paramount to multiplication.
The missing value, though, is an obsessive dedication to disciple making as the core purpose for your life and church.
Without this resolve, the likelihood that you’ll soon relapse back into a Level 3 addition-focused church greatly increases, even if you started at Level 5.
Non-Negotiables We Can’t Ignore
Every year, overall attendance in U.S. churches shrinks. Big box churches have failed to evangelize the country. I and a growing number of leaders believe we need more “boutique” churches to bring back evangelism and disciple making to the people. More churches at all levels of multiplication will help, but since Level 5 multiplication is most productive, why not start there?
If you choose Level 5, you get the opportunity to touch hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. Unlike a Level 3 church that becomes tied to its surrounding locality and buildings,
Level 5 movement can invade the culture wherever there are disciples making disciples.
If you start at Level 5, you’ll run counter to the Level 3 culture dominating the American scene. With a little success, you’ll catalyze a movement. If you settle for Level 3, all you get is the influence that comes with pastoring a large church.
With ore than 30-plus years in ministry and studying the Bible under my belt, I’ve learned that Scripture has given us specific non-negotiables or truths—essentially, reasons why every church should attempt to be a Level 5 multiplier. Each non-negotiable is biblical, simply reflecting the gospels and the book of Acts:
- Every Christ follower is a fisher of men.
- Every disciple makes disciples.
- Disciple making is the key to rapid church multiplication.
- To reach broken people, we must engage with broken people.
- Church multiplication belongs to the local church.
- Our practices and processes should be infinitely reproducible and self-supporting as soon as possible.
- The Great Commission calls for nothing short of world domination through love.
Benefits of Leading Toward Level 5
As a Level 5 pastor, you get opportunities to leverage your own spiritual gifts through the words and actions of the disciples you lead. I know firsthand that Level 5 multiplication allows you to accomplish far more than if you pastor one large church with a few scattered outreaches into your community, pockets of poverty in your city, or even into foreign countries.
I could never pastor one church larger than some of the churches I led (the largest top out at just over 2,000 attendees). However, a couple of hundred thousand people attend churches that we’ve multiplied. I can only be in a few locations during any given year, yet our churches are in hundreds of cities across the globe. That’s leverage!
Another great benefit for you as a Level 5 leader is legacy. Most of the disciples you lead will still be alive after you die, which means that you can afford to face an uncertain future without worries about leaving a legacy in concrete and steel (or even institutions that you managed to get named after yourself).
Mostly, you reap the joy of knowing you made an impact on the Kingdom of God—participating in a far greater harvest than any single congregation could yield.
I challenge you to think of yourself as a “monomaniac with a mission.” The question is: Will you become a Level 3 monomaniac, or will your particular mania pull you all the way to Level 5—right from the start?
Ralph Moore is the founding pastor of three churches. He and his wife, Ruby, currently pastor Hope Chapel Honolulu. Beginning with just 12 people, the Hope Chapel movement now numbers more than 2,300 churches worldwide. These are the offspring of the 70+ congregations launched from Ralph’s hands-on disciple-making efforts. His newest book (with Jeff Christopherson), New to Five: Starting a Level 5 Multiplying Church (free download), explores the new church to Level 5 pathway—one of five core multiplication pathways that Exponential introduced in its 2017 anchor book, Dream Big, Plan Smart: Finding Your Pathway to Level 5 Multiplication (free download).