This article is the second in a series of resources to help you move beyond the pull of being a church focused on addition. In this series, we will be highlighting five shifts necessary to move your church from addition to multiplication. You can read the first article in the series here.
Larry and Deb Walkemeyer saw significant (Level 3 addition) success while pastoring Light and Life Fellowship in Long Beach, CA. In fact, they were the fastest-growing church in their denomination! But God led both of them to understand that they were not to be a “lake” church, growing bigger and bigger while holding onto their resources. Instead, God was calling them to be a “river” church, releasing funds and people to go and start other churches.
Imagine watching an NBA basketball game, but unbeknownst to you, the NBA has drastically changed the rules. Now, in addition to field goals being worth two or three points, every assist (a pass that empowers someone else to score) is worth five points. The game would be totally altered. The celebrity shooters would no longer dominate teams, but the effective passers would be of even greater value. High scorers could be those who never even made a shot. Team play would rise to a whole new level, with scores potentially surpassing 250 points.
Larry and Deb’s scorecard and their primary metrics of success changed. They still measure attendance and giving (among other details), but how they evaluate success shifted dramatically. Weekend attendance is no longer at the top of the list, but now it’s measured more as a means to an end. The way they evaluate Kingdom success is rooted in a scorecard of sending and releasing, of planting churches—some of which aren’t even in their denomination.
The way they evaluate Kingdom success is rooted in a scorecard of sending and releasing
But this shift comes at a cost. Carpet, lighting, and other needed renovations that could have been done are continually delayed in order to free up funds for new churches. Salary increases and additional staff are often put on the back burner. And they are no longer the fastest-growing church. Yet, they are having a MUCH greater Kingdom impact!
A New Scorecard for Austin
As Tim Hawks, lead pastor of Hill Country Bible Church in Austin, TX, made his way home from consulting with bi-vocational church planters in Mexico City, the Holy Spirit began to speak to him. Tim realized that he didn’t have the same passion for his city that the church planters in Mexico possessed.
Tim moved from seeing Austin through the lens of his church to being broken for his city. This Kingdom lens led Tim and his church to plant multiple generations of churches through the Association of Hill Country Churches. Tim became a force behind Christ Together, an organization committed to helping churches from across denominations work together for the sake of gospel saturation in their city. Their Kingdom impact increased exponentially once they moved beyond Level 3 success.
With the Right Scorecard, You Can Bypass Level 3
If you’re just starting out in church leadership or find your church currently at Level 1 or 2, you likely have a better chance getting to Levels 4 and 5 by bypassing Level 3. (Read the first article in this series for more on the 5 Levels of Multiplication.)
Paul Taylor planted Rivers Crossing in Cincinnati, OH, with a Level 4/5 mindset. The day the church started (in a theater), they announced their first church plant. And they have continued to work with others to plant more and more church-planting churches.
Luke Allen planted Covenant Church in Shreveport, LA, with a commitment to be a sending church. The church intends to stay mobile, setting up and tearing down every weekend. They will never get larger than about 350 in weekly attendance because when they reach that number, they’ll start sending again. In addition to churches, they’re launching missional communities, plus new expressions of church that are bringing the Kingdom of God to bear on dark places.
Both of these churches have had a huge Kingdom impact beyond what most people realize because their name doesn’t go on everything they do. It’s a success metric they evaluate internally.
Larry continues his basketball metaphor:
Every pastor has to break down the scoreboard wall that has been erected. If we settle for the “good” of addition, we will miss the “great” of multiplication. We will prioritize our reputation, our new buildings, our church’s depth, our church savings account, our user friendliness, our squeaky clean systems and our committed staff over the harvest.
We must overhaul the scoreboard to tally actual Kingdom impact; to show how much community transformation is happening; to understand how much transmission of the gospel is occurring; to record how many workers are actually being sent into the harvest. Even if the Christian media fails to recalibrate their scoreboard, we must ask for this renovation in our own hearts. To move the Kingdom forward, this wall must fall down.
You’ve likely heard, “What you measure, you improve; and what you celebrate, you repeat.” What do you celebrate? What would get spontaneous applause from your congregation? Churches have many metrics that are important to measure, as they should. But it’s difficult to have more than one or two that define your ultimate success. What tops the list for you? A year from now, what’s the primary metric that would define success for you and your church?
What you measure, you improve; and what you celebrate, you repeat.
Greater Kingdom Impact
Maybe a better question is, what are you willing to give up in order to see greater Kingdom impact?
I remember Bruce Wesley, lead pastor for Clear Creek Community Church in Houston, saying, “I had to die to my idea of success as a pastor” to move from Level 3 to Level 4.
Shifting your scorecard to prioritize multiplication over addition is the first of five critical shifts to move past the Level 3 Magnet. By pursuing Level 4 Reproduction and Level 5 Multiplication, you will set your leadership and your church on a trajectory toward more disciple-makers released into mission and more churches planted.
(Stay tuned for our second and third shifts, where we will look at mobilization.)
- What is your primary metric of success? In other words, what’s your most important measurement? Is that measurement rooted primarily in addition or multiplication?
- If your future and the future of your children and their children depended on you becoming a Level 5 multiplying church, what would you do differently than what you’re doing now? What would you stop doing? What would you start doing?
Are you ready to make a shift in your scorecard of success? Discover the three dimensions of multiplication and craft a new scorecard that will lead to Kingdom impact by joining a Multipliers Learning Community cohort.