The Send Network Church Planting Blog

Start Something Worth Reproducing

August 6, 2012 by Jeff Christopherson
“Jesus said, 'What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden'..." (Luke 13:18-19). A common sentiment echoed among missionaries worldwide is, “If it is not working at home, please don’t export it!” What is it that they are saying? Could it be something like, “Why reproduce something in a new context if it no longer is effective in the context in which it originated?” That’s an idea worth thinking about. Reproduction and community transformation are two concepts abounding in Jesus’ teachings. Yet they are foreign to what we have been educated in through the shadowy school of church growth. Both terms are significant. If we have “reproduction” without “community transformation,” we compound the problem by reaffirming the bias that our culture already owns—that is, the church exists for its own membership. If we have “community transformation” without “reproduction,” we condemn communities not adjacent to us from experiencing the transforming power of the gospel. In essence we say, “Too bad you don’t live here!”
Reproduction and community transformation are two concepts abounding in Jesus’ teachings. Yet they are foreign to what we have been educated in through the shadowy school of church growth. Both terms are significant.
What if every new church understood its fitting place in the kingdom of God? What if its leaders were committed to making a difference in the community where it is planted? What if they were willing to pay whatever price needed to be paid so as not to become a dead-end link on the Great Commission chain? A church planter armed with a strategic plan to carry out community transformation and reproduction has the potential to plant a church that will make a tremendous kingdom impact.

What are the benefits of planting this kind of church?

Some might say that it seems counterintuitive to “give yourself away” to your community—to other communities—while still trying to establish a “base of operations.” That is true, if the base is your goal. If the base is your goal, then the school of church growth has exactly the right plan for you—you save yourself at all costs! If what the church does is the goal, then look to the Gospels for the plan. (Jesus gave us a hint on how to prepare for the final exam—see Matthew 25:31-46.) The following six statements are just a sampling of the benefits you will experience when you walk with your church along this path:  
  1. Invites cooperation with the lost. I am constantly surprised how lost people value the things of the kingdom. Walk this road and watch your lost friends and neighbors join in. 
  1. Gives opportunity to naturally share your hope (1 Peter 3:15). Your lost friends become impressed with the authenticity of your faith. Questions are asked. 
  1. Opens the door for a far bigger “buy-in” from new believers. When the goal is not the Sunday morning activities—but the world, spiritual imaginations begin to ramp up. 
  1. Provides a path for the radical transformation of new believers. When spiritual imaginations grow, so grows the price believers are willing to pay. Commitment issues diminish. 
  1. Gives your people a heart for the world. When multiplication is seen as a core value, believers become genuinely interested in the process. 
  1. Experience God’s provision from the most surprising sources. It is often said that “the resources are in the harvest.” We have been experiencing that “the resources are in the PRE-harvest.”  It is an incredible joy to see all the accounts that Gouses to fund His kingdom agenda.
So, why not start a church that is worth reproducing. You might be surprised at the cooperation that follows. Jeff Christopherson is the North American Mission Board's Regional Vice President for Canada and the Northeast . He and his wife, Laura, live in Oakville, Ontario.

More in this Series