“The Goal is No Longer to Plant a Large Church, But to Plant a Multiplying Church”

A Q&A with HGC's Greg Wiens

March 3, 2016


From the very start, multiplication must be part of a church’s DNA and practiced through intentional decisions.

As chief catalyst for Healthy Growing Churches, Greg Wiens works with church planters nationwide as he and the HGC team come alongside leaders to help create healthy churches that multiply. In the interview below, Greg talks about the need for planting Level 4 and 5 multiplying churches over planting large Level 3 churches as well as what he and HGC 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 at Healthy Growing Churches?

Each of the five distinct levels or types of churches described in the book clearly articulate what I have experienced in working with churches for the last 30 years. This is especially true when I account for some overseas movements as Level 5 churches. It was helpful to understand that Level 2 (plateaued) and Level 4 (reproducing) were actually hybrids of Level 1 (subtracting), Level 3 (adding) and Level 5 (multiplying). This resonated clearly with what I have experienced in Level 2 and Level 4 churches. They are “caught in the middle” between opposing forces.

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

  1. Macro multiplication (planting multiplying churches) won’t happen well if we aren’t experiencing micro multiplication (one-on-one discipleship). A church-planting church must be built on the foundation of “disciple making disciple.”
  2. Building cultural Christians is one of the biggest impediments to healthy multiplication at both the macro and micro level.
  3. We need large churches to be multiplying, not just adding. By multiplying, they infuse their DNA into the new churches they start. Unfortunately, some of the practices that make some churches large preclude them from multiplying.

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 seeing in leaders?

Attempting to grow church plants is difficult at best. Helping them multiply after they’re growing is even more difficult. When churches attempt to just grow, they build into their DNA the seeds that will eventually thwart multiplication. From the very start, multiplication must be part of a church’s DNA and practiced through intentional decisions.

It is actually easier to find planting pastors who can lead a multiplying church than to find planters who can start and build megachurches. However, up to this point, planting has attracted a disproportional number of pastors desiring to build large Level 3 churches. The goal is no longer to plant a large church, but to plant a multiplying church. We had set our sights too low (Level 3)!

What specific action steps has Healthy Growing Churches taken as a result of reading the book? 

We have specifically adopted a new vernacular in recruiting, assessing and training our potential pastors. We also have evaluated all of the ministries with churches of all sizes to look at potential changes we need to make, as well as ways to better communicate with leaders to help them grasp multiplication at the micro and macro level.

We have also evaluated what we need to do to integrate better disciple-producing practices in everything we do. I had assumed them before; I no longer make this assumption.

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

Every disciple can make disciples. Every discipled pastor can disciple individuals in the church to make disciples. Every pastor can be a multiplying pastor of a multiplying church. Every pastor cannot be a megachurch pastor. So we are challenging individuals to figure out their unique gifts and how they use them in the Kingdom to make disciples. A number of pastors have confessed they have no clue on how to make disciples…good to know.

How have your prayers changed as you think through what it means to be a Level 5 multiplying church and lead a ministry that works to multiply churches?  

We are praying for men and women specifically committed to making disciples, leaders who will eventually be part of leading a Level 4 or 5 church. We’ve discovered these prayers are much different from prayers for men and women who can lead large Level 3 churches.

You can take the FREE Becoming Five Assessment Tool at becomingfive.org

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