Rapid Church Planting Growth
In this insightful conversation with a true champion and practitioner of multiplying churches, Nairobi Chapel Senior Pastor and Exponential speaker Oscar Muriu looks at what it takes to plant churches aggressively and shares the inspiring story of how the church he has led since 1991 began planting one church every three years followed by increases of 10, 20 and 40 per year. Fueled by five key inflection points, Nairobi Chapel in Kenya will plant 100 churches this year.
Since dedicating his life to Christ in 1983, Muriu has worked to raise up a legacy of leaders, especially African leaders, for the Church worldwide. In the podcast excerpt below, he talks about the first key learning he has discovered about church planting and shares with us his “simple formula” for church multiplication.
“In Matthew 9:37, Jesus looked on the people and said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers.” Many pastors read this to say, “the harvest is plentiful, but the resources are few. Pray that God would send more money so that we can get the job done.” But by Jesus’ definition, the greatest need for Kingdom work is not money; it’s people. For us, our first inflection point where we began to learn about church planting is exactly this: If you have the people, you will plant churches.
“And so the questions become, “What is your leadership pipeline? Do you have a leadership development process? Do you take young men and women and inspire, equip, train and commission them?” If you’re not doing that, you will never plant churches. It will remain a wish. We have the privilege of being workers in the Kingdom where the most important currency is not what you pay leaders; it’s the call on their life and the opportunity to engage that call. That’s what brings people and what keeps people. Here’s my simple formula: We have found that 60 percent of the people we train for the work of church planting end up planting a church. So if I want to plant 100 churches, I need to have about 150 people in training. The bigger your funnel is at the top, the bigger the flow is at the bottom. If you have a bottleneck at the top, then nothing comes out of the bottom.
“The first thing that Jesus did when He started His ministry wasn’t what we tend to do. We hit the ground running and keep ourselves busy trying to reach out to people. The first thing Jesus does is choose the 12 leaders and invest in them. Amazingly, after three years He leaves the scene, and the Kingdom begins to grow. We’ve got it upside down. We invest ourselves at the expense of leadership development. Our first primary target should be to develop leaders, and the work will get done. It’s only a matter of time.”
Since 1989, Oscar Muriu has served as the senior pastor of Nairobi Chapel, a thriving, missions-focused congregation and one of Kenya’s most influential churches. Nairobi Chapel serves the poor in surrounding communities through numerous ministries, such as medical clinics and an HIV-AIDS ministry. Additionally, Nairobi Chapel has developed a ministry that houses and educates young at-risk girls who live on the streets of Nairobi. A frequent speaker at Exponential conferences, Muriu ministers in multiple countries throughout Africa and globally. He and his wife Bea, who serves as the children’s pastor at Nairobi Chapel, have four daughters.