Like my last two posts on this topic, this one is built on the premise of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Blink that introduced the idea that our first intuitions and spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones. This is the third of four questions on a blink test for your church to determine if you currently have movement momentum. Read each one to determine if you’re moving in the right direction. Don’t think too long. Just blink.
BLINK: Is your church content with addition or does it long to see exponential reproduction?
What is your blink about your church’s strategy for growth and sending? Addition is a good thing, but exponential reproduction is the stuff of movements. Addition provides incremental growth, but multiplication produces exponential growth. Addition often relies on the pull of event-based ministry, while multiplication comes through life-on-life apprenticeships at every level: Christ followers, leaders and church planters.
Neil Cole, who has dedicated his whole life to trying to discover the secret of starting spontaneous church multiplication movements, reminds us: “Because addition is faster in the beginning and multiplication takes time, we are often content with growth through addition. We are easily seduced by the more immediate success and instant gratification of addition instead of waiting for the momentum that can build with multiplying. The success promised to addition is hard to turn down. It is so rare to have a church ministry grow at all that one growing fast with addition is desirable enough. It is hard to turn away from the glamour of potentially being labeled the fastest-growing church. It is difficult as well for leaders to turn away from the crowds and invest in the few, but Jesus Himself did exactly that.”
The question of incremental addition versus exponential reproduction applies to everything: new converts, Christ followers, small groups or teams, campuses and churches. If your church has the heart for the long view of exponential reproduction and not the immediacy of addition then movement momentum is coming.
This post is an excerpt from my new book with Alan Hirsch, On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church