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The Send Network Church Planting Blog

Send Network Values: Multiplication

February 2, 2016 by Mac Lake

The addiction to addition

The thing I love about young church planters is their drive to reach people with the gospel and grow a healthy church. But there's a dangerous trap some planters aren’t aware of that can easily ensnare them and keep their church from having the impact they dreamed of. The trap is the addiction to addition. The addiction to addition can be one of the greatest factors that limit a church’s expanding influence in the community and world. I've been reading from Acts lately and it's challenging me to have a greater mindset for multiplication. One of the things we always marvel at when reading the story of the early church is the rapid addition of more and more people to the church.
The addiction to addition can be one of the greatest factors that limit a church’s expanding influence in the community and world.
Consider these passages from Acts 2-19, • “and that day 3000 were added to their number” • “the Lord added to their number daily” • “and believers were increasingly being added to their numbers” • “the number of disciples grew greatly in Jerusalem” • “They increased in number daily.” There's no doubt it's exciting to be a part of a growing environment. We love it when our small group spills over from the living room into the dining room. It's thrilling to see the ushers putting out more seats in the auditorium because so many people have arrived for the 11:00 service. We celebrate when our annual church-wide serve event grows from 48 percent to 51 percent of our members coming out to serve the community. These are all good things and good signs of addition. But when you look underneath the surface of Luke's record of the early church, it's not a book about addition, it's the story of multiplication. The disciples could've easily become addicted to the rapid addition to their numbers in Jerusalem. They could've settled in and made plans for bigger buildings, more seats and increased capacity. These are all good things. But the disciple’s obsession was not with addition, they recognized it was a movement that called for multiplication. The early church leaders began to move the gospel out, reproduce leaders and start a multiplication movement. Somehow, as tempting as it must’ve been, they avoided the allure of addition.
But when you look underneath the surface of Luke's record of the early church, it's not a book about addition, it's the story of multiplication.

What are the signs we’ve become addicted to addition?

• We're more concerned with expanding seating capacity, rather than expanding our sending capacity. • We’re more concerned with how many people are in groups, rather than how many people are leading and multiplying groups. • We’re more concerned about how many show up to serve together at a one-time event, rather than how many we can empower to serve 24/7. • We're more concerned about how many people are “following me”, rather than how many people are “leaving me” to go to lead a movement of their own • We’re concerned only about our community, or our sphere of influence, rather than our city and the nations. • We’re more concerned about seeing our church grow rather than seeing our church reproduce. One of the biggest temptations pastors face is becoming addicted to addition. Don't get me wrong addition is good. But it’s only through multiplication we can make an exponential impact on the growing lostness of North America.
"What we’re a part of is not about growing our church, it’s about expanding His Kingdom. You cannot reach a city by planting one church." - Vance Pitman
My friend Vance Pitman, pastor at Hope Church in Las Vegas, recently talked to a group of young church planters and explained why his church is committed to multiplication rather than addition. He said, “What we’re a part of is not about growing our church, it’s about expanding His Kingdom. You cannot reach a city by planting one church. Our church, from an outsider’s perspective, has experienced a lot of favor. If we continue to grow at our current growth rate by the year 2040 we would have 25,000-30,000 people in attendance. People would say, 'Wow, that’s a huge success story.' But if we grew to 30,000 people, we would not have penetrated the lostness of our city by even 1 percent. Our city is 95 percent lost. But if in the same 25 year period, we plant and multiply five churches every five years, that multiply five churches every five years, and those churches simply grow to 200 people, we could plant over 10,000 churches and reach over 3 million people with the gospel. Now you’ve penetrated lostness, now you’re impacting culture, now you’re not just making a name for yourself and being invited to speak at conferences, you’re expanding the kingdom and seeing darkness retreat.”' This is why it's essential we make the shift from a mindset of addition to a mindset of multiplication. And that is why multiplication is one of the core values that drive the SEND Network!