The Three Things You Can Do to Reproduce More by Patrick O’Connell

Why don’t more churches multiply (reproduce)? According to Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird in their book Viral Churches:

“The quick answers are: their leaders haven’t thought about it, they don’t know how to do it, and it seems difficult. Ultimately it’s because they don’t understand the importance of doing so.”
— Viral Churches (pg. 41)

I like their answer, but here’s how I would have put it:

  • They are not intentional about reproducing.

  • They don’t know how to reproduce.

  • They don’t think it’s mission critical (hint, it is!).

For NewThing the value of reproducing is a radical minimum essential in every one of our churches. 

Converted into a Culture of Reproducing

I didn’t grow up a Christian. Last thing I ever thought was that I’d become a Jesus follower. My life changed when I eventually found my way back to God at a NewThing church that had a strong culture of reproducing. This culture gave me a vision, plans, and held me accountable to the Jesus Mission…my part of the Jesus Mission. 

Certainly I never thought I’d plant a church! And if you want proof that God’s got a sense of humor, it’s that I’m now director of NewThing, a church planting organization! 

New Campus Commissioning at Restore Community Church in Kansas City, MO

New Campus Commissioning at Restore Community Church in Kansas City, MO

Here’s What the Bible Says About Reproducing

Reproducing is MISSION CRITICAL. Don’t believe me? Jesus in His Great Commission commands us to GO and make disciples. Robert Coleman wrote this about reproduction:

Jesus intended for the disciples to produce his likeness in and through the church being gathered out of the world. Thus his ministry in the Spirit would be duplicated manyfold by his ministry in the lives of his disciples. Through them and others like them it would continue to expand in an ever-enlarging circumference until the multitudes might know in a similar way the opportunity that they had known with the Master. By this strategy, the conquest of the world was only a matter of time and their faithfulness to his plan.

A further review of the Gospels reveals that reproducing is the single best way for Jesus’ followers to:

  • be in the world (Matthew 5:13-16)

  • demonstrate practical love (Matthews 22:34-40)

  • make Disciples (Matthew 28:19-20)

All of this is with the goal to teach and baptize into the Kingdom (Matthew 28)!

Reproducing and evangelism are correlated. Therefore, reproducing is the best way to evangelize new people, and the ONLY way we will achieve the Jesus Mission worldwide. We make disciples when we equip and empower people for the Jesus mission…when we reproduce.

So what is Reproducing?

Remember that Stetzer and Bird said many leaders don’t reproduce because they don’t understand it. So, what is reproducing?

One answer from Paul comes from 2 Tim 2:3-7:

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
— 2 Timothy 2:3-7

Reproducing is focusing on the Kingdom goals…first. Paul is clear. Reproduce the Jesus mission in others. Is this too obvious, or do we miss this sometimes? 

Reproducing is about investing in people. When you think of reproducing you must THINK OF PEOPLE – about creating a culture that helps you reproduce the Jesus mission in people at any level. Reproducing is BOTH macro and micro:

  • Micro: disciple making in the context of reproducing at inter-church level (examples of this are apprenticeship, leaders, small groups, ministry teams).

  • Macro: lots of disciples starting something new (examples of this are churches, locations, campuses, networks, movements).

As leaders we must pay attention to both.

A gathering of network and movement leaders at the NewThing North American Retreat

A gathering of network and movement leaders at the NewThing North American Retreat

You Leading a Reproducing Church

Think about your role as a leader or church planter. Your mandate is to reproduce at every level. How do you do that? At NewThing, we developed a simple tool called the My Reproducing Plan that our churches commit to writing to actualize reproducing. The document is one of the ways we endeavor to live out this value at every level. 

Whether your church is partnered with NewThing or not, here are three things you can do to reproduce more leaders, artists, churches, networks, and movements:

  1. Cast a Vision to Reproduce at EVERY LEVEL. A vision starts when you and your team actually ask God for His vision for your church or community etc. It’s a SPECIFIC STATEMENT that is clear and compelling.

  2. Develop SPECIFIC PLANS to REPRODUCE. You will need to develop a compelling plan(s) to achieve your reproducing vision. Plans require you to address the details, the more SPECIFIC the goals, the better. 

  3. Remain Accountable to Reproducing. In order to achieve our goals we need to get comfortable with accountability. In the Army we had PT tests. Fail my PT test and I was in a world of hurt. In business I had sales quotas. In the church we need to get comfortable and clear about accountability if we’re going to create a culture of reproducing. Accountability simply means you have the measures in place to help you do what you say you’re going to do.

The Kingdom of God will only be seen when we take seriously the mission of reproducing. God’s dream is for everyone to be in relationship with him and churches are the best way for that to happen. 

But if the church doesn’t reproduce, who will?

More about the author, Patrick O’Connell

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