Tim Keller on Church Planting & Reproducing

   Great stuff from Tim Keller and other church planters on Acts 1:8, church planting and reproducing.  This video was originally shown at one of our Exponential Conferences a few years ago.  A couple of my favorite lines from Keller are when he says, "Church planting should be a part of every church…and as normal as every other ministry" and then he ends with, "If you can plant a church, you should." 

The Jesus Mission

Reach Restore Reproduce[1]

Over the last 18 months at COMMUNITY we have made strategic moves in order to mobilize all (yes, we mean ALL) our people for mission.  Part of that process has been to clearly articulate in a simple way our mission and how we will carry it out.  The mission is “helping people find thier way back to God” and the way we will accomplish it is throug the 3 R’s. What is below is the script from a voice over I did for a video to explain in a concise way the Jesus mission at COMMUNITY.

MISSION:  At COMMUNITY we have accepted the mission of Jesus and simply say it like this: “helping people find their way back to God.”  This mission is made up of three tasks:

REACH.  First, we must reach people far from God. The Western Church is observing a dramatic shift from a Christian culture to a post-Christian one.  It is now suggested that 60% of the people we want to reach will never enter the doors of our current forms of church.  If that is true, we then need to allow our imaginations to be profoundly shaped by the biblical notion that God is sending us as He sent Himself in Jesus.  Matthew 28 says to “Go!” and we are challenging ourselves to be the church who will reach people who are far from God.

RESTORE.  We must also restore God’s dream for the world. A common perception among pre-Christians is that Christ-followers talk about poverty and justice issues, but that we don’t do much to address those issues.  But Jesus expects us to change that perception.  “He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.”  (Luke 4:17-18) It is our mission to be a people who restore God’s dream for the world.

REPRODUCE.  We must then reproduce the mission in others. If we are called to go to “Jerusalem…Judea…Samaria… and to the ends of the earth,” we have to find a new way of counting that results in rapid reproduction and exponential growth.  This new math counts on you and your friends to start a missional church movement.  Every movement starts with one person.  When you and your friends follow the biblical example to become apprentices of Jesus, (2 Timothy 2:2) the result can be the beginning of a missional church movement.  Through these apprenticeships, we will reproduce the mission in others.

That’s the Jesus Mission. Now go.

Mission, Stephen Colbert & the Power of "Yes!"

YesTime Magazine compiled a list of the 10 best commencement addresses ever. This list included speeches by Winston Churchill (Harrow College, 1941); John F. Kennedy (American University, 1963) and even Steve Jobs (Stanford, 2005). Also on the list was Stephen Colbert (yes, that Stephen Colbert!) and his 2006 commencement address at little Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Colbert, who Knox had just awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, closed his address with a challenge about the power of saying, “Yes”: “When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City, there was really only one rule … When you improvise a scene with no script … you have to accept what the other improviser initiates … Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say yes. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say yes back. Now will saying yes get you in trouble at times? Will saying yes lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. Yes is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.”

You may or may not like Colbert’s politics, but either way if you want to lead your church toward mission, you’d better listen to his words of wisdom and lead with a “Yes!”  The one thing every leader possesses that every follower needs to engage in mission is permission. And permission always comes in the form of a “Yes.” Leaders, if you want to see missional engagement in your churches and ultimately a movement, you must lead with a “Yes” to your people’s creative ideas. If your followers can’t get permission from you, then they may never be engaged in the mission. The great temptation is to respond with questions of how. But questions of how need to wait. If we respond with “How could you do that?” we immediately begin to sow seeds of doubt by responding to the individual’s vision with a question about strategy. If we ask, “How much would that cost?” we are responding to their vision with a question of tactics. The questions about “how” will come later on, but the reflex of an innovative leader needs to be “Yes.”

(This is an excerpt from my new book with Alan Hirsch, On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church.)

For more on “Yes” check out the following:

The Focus of Attention

FocusEver been around someone who has to be the focus of attention? And do you remember what it feels like being around that person? It feels like the person is needy and something is lacking so he/she is grabbing all the attention they can to compensate for something that is lacking.

Ever been that person who has to have all the attention focused on you? Remember the feeling? You feel empty and selfish. It’s a self-serving experience to make sure you are the focal point.

In the wisdom literature of the Bible it reminds warns us, “Don’t call attention to yourself, let others do that for you.” (Proverbs 27:2) If we live a life that is constantly pointing to others, people will notice and be attracted to us. Who doesn’t want to be around a person that let’s them be the center of attention.

One of the great paradox of life is this: focus your life’s attention on others and the attention of others will be drawn to you.

Are We Just Consuming "Missional"?

Big MouthIf a rediscovery of mission will bring new life to the church in the west; then consumerism may be it’s death. The church, if it goes unchallenged will consume great Bible teaching; it will also consume community, serving experiences and even worship. But now an important question is emerging, “How do we keep churches from consuming mission?”  It is not a ridiculous question!  Who doesn’t like to be a part of a cause greater than themselves?  Don’t most people like to think they are making a difference?  Doesn’t being on a mission appeal to an intrinsic felt-need that is in all of us?  I believe the answer is “yes” to all those questions.  And beware – after mission is consumed, if it stops feeling good, worthwhile and meeting needs, people will quit the mission! So back to our important question:  “How do we keep churches from making mission one more product they consume?”  Two suggestions:

  1. Missionary As Identity – If we want the people in our churches to engage in mission we must make sure they understand that being a missionary is not something you consume, it is your identity.  We must help them do the kind of spiritual formation that understands we worship the Missio Dei, and this missionary God sent His son, and His son sent the Spirit, and the Spirit of God sends us.  If we can help the people in our churches see that we are missionaries, then mission will not simply be another program to consume, it will become their identity.
  2. Missional Practices – To reinforce our identity as missionaries every church needs to teach and hold their people accountable for simple missional practices.  At COMMUNITY, we are teaching our people five simple missional practices that are based on Genesis 12 that “we are blessed to be a blessing.”  These five missional practices are an acronym that make up the word B.L.E.S.S. (more to come on these practices soon).  These missional practices will not only reinforce our missionary identity but also create a missional culture within a church.  

I believe that the church in the west must rediscover it’s mission; but at the same time we must be aware of mission becoming one more product for the church to consume!  What else do we need to do to keep our people from just consuming mission?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

MIssional Practices – Acting Your Way Into A New Way of Behaving

Mission from GodI was talking with Alan Hirsch as we worked together on chapter six of our recent book, On The Verge. That chapter explains the necessary missional practices a church must adopt if they are going to mobiilze their people for mission. It was during that conversation Alan said, “80% of all people act their way into a new way of believing and behaving.”  I asked him to repeat it.  He said, “Yeah, 80% of all people act their way into a new way of believing and behaving.”  

Since that time I have thought about that single statement no less than a thousand times.  Over and over again I’ve mulled what he said and wondered how do I get my people to act their way into a new way of believing and behaving regarding the mission of Jesus?

 After pondering this statement I’ve come to two conclusions:

  • First, I think Alan made up the 80% part. Did you know that 85% of all stats are made up on the spot? 🙂  
  • Secondly, for a shift to happen that mobilizes all people for mission in a church there needs to be a culture so strong in that church that it insists you do mission long before you completely understand the mission or are sure you are even a part of the mission.  And the way that you establish a strong culture like that is through consistent simple missional practices that everyone believes and does.

I have some thougths that I wil share over the next week or so.  But here is my question for you?  What are some simple missional practices that would allow people to act their way into a new way of believing and behaving.  Please leave a comment.  I would love to discuss this with you.

Blink Test for Movementum: Question #4

Eye This is the last of four questions that make up a Blink Test that determines whether your church has movementum or not.  I would encourage you to answer questions #1, #2 and #3 before you answer this one.  This test 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.  Don’t think too long. Just blink.

BLINK:  Is your church holding onto control or are they leading with a harmonious blend of order and chaos?

Controlling or an intermingling orderly chaos—what’s your blink?  As a church invests in people and sends them out on mission over and over again with the dream of an exponential movement things will get out of control. The question is not if it is out of control, but what is the reflex of the church? Will they have done the hard work of people development and then embrace them with trust because of what they have invested in them or will they fall back on policy-making and pull in the reigns? Control is an illusion; it’s never something you grab, it can only be granted to you by others. This does not mean the leadership of a church should surrender to anarchy. Not at all. Rather than trying to lead by grasping at control, they must move forward with shared values that align people and communities of great diversity to bring about catalytic movements. If your church is courageous enough to not try to control, but to trust and nurture what they have given life to, then movementum is the reward.

This post is an excerpt from my new book with Alan Hirsch, On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church

Growing Missional Leaders – Practical & Helpful!

Growing Missional Leaders My friend Matthew Smith has written a very practical and helpful guide for Growing Missional Leaders.  As the church in North America awakens to original intention to be a missional church there is more and more being written on this topic.  One of those books that you may not have heard about is Growing Missional Leaders.  Within this three-word title Smith has identified the most important challenge for the North American church in the twenty-first century.


The Kingdom of God is meant to grow.  Like a mustard seed it may start out small, but in time will grow into a large shrub that will reproduce and can overtake a whole countryside. Growing Missional Leaders is a book designed to help grow the Kingdom.  The real-life stories will motivate you to grow as a follower of Jesus.  The discussion questions will challenge you and your leadership team with introspection and application encouraging you to take the next step.


Missional is more than the latest buzzword in Christian leadership circles. Mission is what motivated God to send His people to be a blessing to the rest of the world.  Mission is what caused the Father to send his Son to a lost and dying world.  In the pages of this book you will feel Matthew Smith’s passion for mission.  He understands that every person’s eternity is at stake and the dream of God for all mankind is in jeopardy unless we accomplish the mission of Jesus.


Leadership is the key leverage point for initiating any kind of significant change.  If we can change leaders than we know that same change will take place in the people who are influenced by and follow that leader.  This is book is dedicated to the task of bringing about change and it has identified the most effective way is to start with leaders.

Blink Test for Movementum: Question #3

Blink eye 2 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

Blink Test for Movementum: Question #2

Blink 2a In my last post I reminded you how Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Blink introduced us to a psychologist who almost intuitively knew whether a marriage would last after being with a couple a few minutes and a tennis coach who could accurately predict a double-fault before the racket even made contact with the ball. His point is that often our first intuitions and spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones. This is the second 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 #2: Is your church as passionate about sending people out as bringing people in?

“Now that was church!” was my friend’s reaction as we got back into the car around noon on Sunday and headed back home together. Where had we been? 329 North Dearborn in Chicago; home of the House of Blues. I wasn’t teaching that weekend, so we went to one of our Saturday night services and then on Sunday morning headed to the House of Blues for their Gospel Brunch. It was an amazing experience! They had a buffet that included a place to create your own omelet, fresh made-to-order waffles, a salad station, seafood station and a carving station with every kind of meat. In addition, they brought in the best gospel music in the entire city. They even had a quick devotional that mentioned Jesus. And all of it was in a world-class venue with great lighting and sound. We got all that for $37.50 per person—far less than a tithe! And my friend half-joked, “Now that was church!”

If you want to create a great place to bring people to, then the House of Blues Gospel Brunch is the best model! That is what they do. They provide the best music, best entertainment and best food in a world-class venue. Why? Simple: to attract you and your money. Yes, they did mention Jesus, and they challenged us to be a friend to somebody today; but that was only to make the experience more authentic. There was no interest in mobilizing people for mission in the neighborhoods that surround North Dearborn.

If the blink on your church is that they are only interested in creating a place to bring people and are not equally passionate about sending people then there is no movementum. If the communal conversation is all about nickels and noses (offering and attendance) there is not movementum. But if the blink is that you see a growing interest in church planting, reproducing new outwardly focused groups and teams, the birth of missional communities, causes of restorative justice and citywide transformation then you have movementum.

This post is an excerpt from my new book with Alan Hirsch, On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church

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