What Does a Multiplying Church Do?

Steve Addison

An eight-year-old girl in South Africa watched her father facilitate Discovery Bible Studies and announced, “I can do this!” They lived in a rough area known for its gangs, so she began working with the children at the local park. Two years later she is still making disciples, attending leaders’ gatherings, and sometimes bringing disciples with her.

She attends Lighthouse, one of the largest churches in Cape Town led by Peter Snyman. But Peter doesn’t want to grow a church, he wants to reach a city – that’s why Lighthouse is a multiplying church. He brought David Broodryk in to train anyone who wanted to learn and apply the basics of disciple making movements. Peter formed a pioneer team of early adopters, and pockets of resistance and indifference melted as reports began flowing in of lives changed by the gospel. Now Lighthouse is passing on the learning to churches throughout Cape Town.

Sugar Creek Baptist is a megachurch of 4,000 on the outskirts of Houston, amid a growing number of counties where the majority are ethnic minorities. Teams have moved in among fifty thousand refugees living in just a few blocks of a high density, multilevel housing, and began engaging people from Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist backgrounds. About three hundred people have come to know Christ. Sugar Creek is a catalyst for movements in Honduras, Peru, along the Amazon in Colombia, and in north India.

Around the world churches are discovering how to fuel movements that multiply disciples and new churches.

This is what I’ve learned about what multiplying churches do:

  1. A multiplying church equips every believer to follow Jesus in loving obedience and to fish for people. It teaches everyone who wants to learn how to lead a Discovery Bible Study, share his or her story, share God’s story and pray for needs. The goal is making disciples who are growing in obedience to Christ’s commands and reaching those with whom they have relations.
  2. A multiplying church mobilizes teams to seek people of peace locally in unreached communities and people groups. The teams meet monthly in an iron-on-iron meeting and twice a year for mid-level training.
  3. A multiplying church’s end vision is the formation of multiple streams of four generations of discipleship groups and churches in its community and in the unreached fields God has called it to.
  4. A multiplying church partners with mission agencies to send workers into unreached fields beyond its reach.
  5. A multiplying church equips other churches through training and coaching to become Great Commission churches.

How did they get started?

They partnered with an experienced practitioner-trainer in disciple making movements. They offered training broadly, but don’t impose it. They were often surprised by who steps up and implements. They poured fuel on that fire. They shared the stories of changed lives and keep building the momentum.

What’s the key to getting started? You have to do it.


Steve Addison is the author of Pioneering Movements: Leadership that Multiplies Disciples and Churches. Steve blogs at www.movements.net