A Q&A with NewThing’s Patrick O’Connell

Learning From Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church

February 18, 2016


We realize we cannot achieve multiplication alone. This will be a movement of God.

As the director of NewThing, Patrick O’Connell works with hundreds of church planters nationwide and is passionate about helping people start more churches that help even more people find their way back to God. In the interview below, he talks about multiplication as movement and what he and NewThing leaders are learning from the new book Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church by Todd Wilson and Dave Ferguson.

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Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church describes five distinct levels of churches and offers a profile for each one. How do those levels and their respective profiles fit with what you’re seeing with NewThing leaders?

NewThing is a catalyst for movements of reproducing churches. We have earnest conversations about seeing all of our churches become movement-making churches. In fact, multiplication is such a core value that you cannot be a part of NewThing without a commitment to multiplying.  We ask every NewThing church to annually complete an MRP (My Reproducing Plan). Todd and Dave’s book both affirms our direction and challenges us to keep the focus on movements.

What would you say are three of the greatest affirmations, epiphanies or “aha’s” you had while reading the book?

1. Aspirations are one thing; practices are another. We must be committed to living out the value of multiplication as a movement-making church and not just dream about it.

2. As leaders, we must continue to adapt our scorecard to reflect multiplication. Our scorecard will include churches that commit to reproducing and who also reproduce.

3. We must acknowledge the natural tensions that all leaders will face in their journey towards multiplication. NewThing’s small intentional spans of care can help leaders do this together.

Todd and Dave offer several direct and indirect challenges to church planters and church planting leaders. What are some of the tensions of multiplication that NewThing is dealing with as you consider these challenges to multiply?

We definitely experience the tension of motives. We want to be a movement that is serious about multiplication. Our leaders feel the tension of the “here versus there.” Our churches want to start movements, but they face the very real challenge of also leading their current ministries. We believe mission gives life and thus, a sending church is also a growing church. We’ve been discussing these challenges and endeavoring together to overcome them together.

What specific action steps has NewThing taken as a result of reading the book?

First, that we can do our part to “move the needle” on multiplication. One of the key values of NewThing is reproduction. Becoming 5 has reaffirmed this value for us and provided specific handles for us to embrace. Specifically, we’ll continue to exhort our churches to complete an MRP each year. This simple tool provides a degree of accountability at every level of NewThing. In our team discussions, we come back to this tool as the simplest and best way to ensure our behaviors line up with our value of reproducing.

Moreover, we’re working with our network leaders to ensure that multiplication remains the core conversation of our network meetings. In doing these things, we hope to up the ante on accountability towards even greater multiplication. For NewThing, it comes back to reaffirming our scorecard.

How have your prayers changed as you think through what it means to be a Level 5 multiplying church and lead a network of multiplying churches?

We realize we cannot achieve multiplication alone. This will be a movement of God. And setting big goals for ourselves (10,000 reproducing churches by 2020) has challenged us to pray differently. One of these ways is to pray together and for each other. Starting in 2015, we hosted our first ever Global Day of Prayer and Fasting. We asked all NewThing churches to participate. We have another one planned for 2016. Additionally, we have a prayer team that regularly prays for our movement.

Give us an example of a multiplying church in your network. Is there a NewThing church, pastor or planter that’s doing a particularly good job of multiplication?

Eric Metcalf. He leads a reproducing church in Chicago that is part of the larger multisite church Community Christian Church. Eric chose to take on the “plant pregnant” strategy by launching with multiple leadership residents (apprentice church planters) and interns. Shortly after launch, Eric and his team were able to send these leaders: one became a campus pastor at Community Christian Church, another became a creative arts director at another church, and the others went on to pursue their God-given dreams. Today, Community Christian Church, Lincoln Park | Old Town averages 150 people, 15 small groups, two Celebration Services, and over 24 baptisms since their launch in October 2013.

Connect with Patrick at his blog Missionglue.com.

To learn more about Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church, take the FREE assessment at becomingfive.org. The assessment takes approximately 30 minutes and helps determine your level of multiplication.

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