In the excerpt below from the second eBook in Exponential’s new series focused on multiplication, Light & Life Fellowship planter Larry Walkemeyer shares about the inner struggle he experienced as he considered the commitment to be a church that multiplies. In Flow: Unleashing a River of Multiplication in Your Church, Community and World, he shares about three huge walls in his heart he had to get over to move forward. As he writes, “My thinking needed to be adjusted toward truth in each of these three areas”:
1. The “Skewed Scoreboard” Wall
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 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.
I believe God scores the assists. He’s searching for “passers” even more than “shooters.” He’s looking for leaders who are more concerned about who they can launch than how many they can lead. For too long, the scoreboard has been skewed and leaders like myself haven’t played up to our Kingdom potential. The scoreboard, however, is shifting from addition to multiplication.
In my own journey, it has been a radical shift to transition my internal scoreboard from “size” to “impact.” This shift is ongoing because my ego has a tendency toward perpetual resurrection. My struggle is exacerbated by the modern church culture. For decades, the Christian scoreboard has tallied attendance as the criteria for “Most Valuable Player” in the wide world of church. Scant attention has been given to how those numbers arrived, or what those numbers did upon arrival. It was sufficient that they were present in the building.
For years, I have quoted Jesus to reassure myself that my local church was going to grow: “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18, KJV). Someone put a pin in my balloon, however, when they pointed out that this is a promise to the universal Church (big “C”), not my local church. Jesus is far more concerned about the growth of the global Church than He is with whether you hit 10 percent attendance growth this year.
When we start focusing on how we can “assist” the global Church to grow, we have crossed over to true Kingdom thinking. We care about scoring points by helping other churches start and expand. 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.
2. The “Play It Safe Wall”
I built “play it safe” wall in my mind and in our church. I could have also named it “the wall of fear” or “the wall of risk aversion.” I wanted to build and live behind a wall that would keep our church safe from any threats to its survival or growth. The atmosphere was self-protective selfishness that said, “We have a good thing going; why risk it by giving some of it away?”
For our church and for me, inner fears were like mooring lines tying a boat to the pier. We could build a bigger boat as long as we didn’t have to untie the lines of fear that would let her sail to the world. We knew what it felt like to build the boat, but not what it meant to free her and let the wind of the Spirit take her where He wanted.
Fear always builds walls of protection, but faith builds bridges of freedom. Fear restrains us, but faith releases us.
The more I studied the Book of Acts, the more deeply I was overwhelmed by the bold fearlessness that marked the early church. “Risk” was the daily special on the church’s menu. They took risks for the “Big C” church, not just for their “little c” church. I became convicted that if we were to be a RIVER church, the dam wall must be torn down.
What was I afraid of? I prayerfully probed what type of fears had built this wall and discovered several:
- The fear of failure—What if we give away leaders, people and money, and then the projects fail? We were winning at addition; why risk losing at multiplication?
- The fear of rejection—I realized multiplication meant allowing allegiances to transfer from the “sending pastor” toThis kind of emotional exchange called for deep personal security. Insecurity is a form of fear, so I faced my own inner fears of rejection.
- The fear of loss of control—Multiplication is an empowerment of others, a divesting of the direct management of leaders and people. It is much like a parent who launches their child and must endure the pain of their poor choices. Did I trust God enough to hand over large groups of people to novice shepherds? Each time our church plants, we encourage everyone in our church to ask God whether they are being called to go. I have no control over who leaves on the mission. Could I trust God to replace key staff and lay leaders if they went?
As church leaders, we want to build walls to protect what we look to for safety, but walls of fear do not make us safe or effective. Walls of fear must be attacked with faith, truth and freedom. Every church must dare to take risks that lead to the multiplication of the church.
3. The “YBH” Wall
When I fly for the first time to an international airport, the first item I look for is the terminal map. When I find it, I specifically look for the “you are here” sticker indicating my current location. I call these informative walls the “YBH” walls—the “Yes, But How?” walls. I know where I came from, where I am and where I want to go—“Yes, but how do I get there?”
As a senior pastor, after I was keen to trade in my skewed scoreboard and determined to tear down my walls of fear, I needed to deal with my YBH wall. This was a matter of knowing enough to head the right direction without demanding to know the details of the journey.
The YBH wall will only topple through a combination of information and trust. The more you learn about multiplication cultures, the clearer your destination will become. The further you move forward, the more you will discover you have to trust God for answers along the way. It requires both knowledge and dependence.
As we prepared to become a multiplying church, I started researching “church planting” and “multiplication movements.” I learned from the successes and failures of others. I asked questions of the pioneers. Throughout the process, I pursued three specific types of knowledge:
- Vision knowledge I wanted to understand the “WHAT” I was being called to. I learned what it looked like for churches to plant churches. If I could get a picture of what the future might look like, then we could begin to build toward it.
- Motivation knowledge I also grew in my knowledge of the “WHY.” Why was the risk of planting churches worth it? Why was it biblically, sociologically and ecclesiological vital to plant churches? Why was it essential to the health of my local church to plant churches? If I had a clear vision of “WHY,” we could figure out the “HOW.”
- Skills knowledge Then I started to research what skills and technical knowledge would be vital to planting. What “HOW” questions needed to be addressed, even if they couldn’t be fully answered at the outset?
The YBH wall is a tall one that can quickly seem overwhelming. However, the more you develop a vision, know the compelling heart of God behind it and learn what you can about it, the smaller that wall becomes.
The potentially discouraging news is that “wall-busting” is not a one-time thing. However, this recurring challenge forces us to continue to confront those internal enemies that block us from expanding the Kingdom to the maximum territory possible.