A Q&A with Church of the Nazarene’s Bill Weisman

"The tension with allocating resources to reproduce and multiply is very real"

February 25, 2016


As director of New Church Development with the Church of the Nazarene, Bill Weisman works with church planters throughout the United States and Canada. In the interview below, he talks about what he’s 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 Nazarene leaders?

When I received Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Oh boy, another new paradigm!  But, the more I read, the more I found myself saying, “Amen and amen!” Although the Church of the Nazarene continues to grow rapidly in world areas (over 30,000 churches), we had been on a plateau with the total number of churches (5,000-plus) in United States/Canada, starting about as many new churches as we close each year. But, that has changed! In the last four years, 494 new churches have been planted in the United States/Canada. Exciting days, but still addition. We are focused in on Level 3 while talking about Level 4 and 5. Finally a tool to help us do more than talk!

I’m excited about the assessment tool to measure a church’s level of multiplication. Defining present reality is crucial to moving to the next level!

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

I discovered language to express the deep, God-given desires of my heart and many of my colleagues in ministry. For example, that we would not only grow by addition (Level 3), but that we would see local churches/pastors that would reproduce on a regular basis (Level 4) and begin to multiply (Level 5). The language is simple and paints a compelling vision.

Todd and Dave offer several direct and indirect challenges to church planters and church planting leaders. What are some of the tensions of multiplication you’re dealing with in the Nazarene Church as you consider these challenges to multiply?

One key “aha” moment came in chapter 4: “So the key question for you and your church is 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?”

Almost exclusively, our heroes at this time are Level 3 churches and pastors. The allocation of resources to continue to grow at the local church level and its tension with allocating resources to reproduce and multiply is very real in most of our most dynamic churches. The low percentage of Level 4 or 5 churches in America is shocking!

What specific action steps have you taken as a result of reading the book? 

We have purchased a block of tickets at Exponential East 2016 and are offering a “private” pre-conference for all who are interested in becoming a Level 5 leader. Our New Church Task Force has been invited into a conversation on the concepts of the Becoming 5 book. Becoming 5 will be the focus of our pre-conference where two of our six general superintendents will deal in-depth with the issues from our perspective.

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How are you challenging, inspiring and equipping leaders in your tribe differently because of what you read?

In the Nazarene Network, we are beginning to use the Level 5 language. The Nazarene Association of Church Planting, which will hold its second annual meeting at Exponential East, will use the Level 5 language. Our New Church Task Force of practitioners from all nine regions of the United States/Canada is reading, responding, strategizing, listening, and learning. We are asking the question: How do we help equip five percent to 10 percent of our pastors to move from Level 2 or 3 to Level 4 or 5?

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 have more than 2,500 leaders who are part of a prayer force, praying every morning at 10:02 a.m. based upon Luke 10:2: “Ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.”

My own personal prayer has changed to not only send out workers but to also empower Level 4 and 5 leaders. We will present this expansion of the Luke 10:2 prayer force at our Exponential gatherings in pre-conference, Nazarene Association of Church Planting and the New Church Task Force.

Introduce us to a Nazarene church, pastor or planter that’s doing a particularly good job of multiplication?

Lead Pastor Kevin McDonald in our Junction City, Kansas, Church of the Nazarene has a vision for beginning 10 to 12 new churches in 2016. He believes God can accomplish anything!

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