Healthy families raise their children then send them out to begin families of their own. Healthy churches mature disciples then send them out to begin new faith families and start new churches.

Picture this scenario. A married couple has one child, and that child grows up in a loving, secure home. When the child is grown, he decides to stay with his parents. Eventually the grown child marries and brings his wife to live with his parents as well. Soon they have children, so grandchildren are now living under the same roof. Not really a stretch to imagine so far, right?

But what if these young parents expect the grandparents to raise their children? How about this? Those grandchildren grow up and marry and bring their spouses to all live with them in that same house, and eventually they have children. Not only that, but the grandkids expect their grandparents to raise their kids, too. Now it’s getting ridiculous.

We know the typical scenario is that each new generation of family moves out into their own home, raises their children, then sends them out to begin new families. This is how a society is built. If everyone stayed under one roof expecting the original set of parents to nurture everyone in the home it eventually breaks down and becomes unsustainable.

For starters, space becomes an issue. The house would need to be enlarged to accommodate all those individuals. The utilities and grocery bill will consume more resources. Some of the family contributes toward the expenses, but the more people that come into the household, the more resources that are required to keep everyone supplied and together. Not only that, but the original parents begin to see the need to hire some help to manage the household.

This bizarre family arrangement is uncomfortably similar to how many churches function. Members are happy to help grow the attendance, yet they expect the existing leadership to nurture the new people that come in. The more people that come in, the more resources that are required to sustain them and the more space that is needed to accommodate them. Members have the expectation that leadership will take care of all the people’s ministry needs, so it becomes necessary to hire additional ministry professionals. I am not entirely convinced this is what Jesus had in mind concerning healthy church growth.

The home (both birth home and church home) is an incubator for mission. It is where passion for Jesus and the gospel is sparked. It is where training occurs. It is where the vision for discipling others into the ways of Jesus takes shape and gets launched. Our call is not to grow a church as large as we can, it is to make disciples who will make disciples. A large church may result, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is not, however, the ultimate goal of disciple-making.

So how do we correct, or better yet, prevent a scenario such as the one above from developing? Multiplication, rather than addition, is the goal. Missional communities is the strategy. Healthy disciples result in healthy leaders, which can lead to healthy missional communities. Healthy and reproducing missional communities can then result in healthy new churches.

Missional communities are one of the most effective environments for multiplication to happen, but we have to be intentional about that task. The discipleship environments of life with God, life on life, life in community, and life on mission are essential to foster healthy multiplication. As individuals grow in their love of Jesus and their understanding of the gospel, more people begin to follow Jesus. Then, new leaders emerge to equip others in sharing the good news with another generation.

As leaders are developed, new missional communities can form and be sent out to continue the mission in new geographic areas. The responsibilities of shepherding, leading, and equipping is then shared rather than depending on a single individual or team of individuals to do all the work of ministry and mission. The potential exists to reach even more new people in new locations. Multiplication through missional communities resolves the issues of space, resources, and lack of adequate leadership.

Healthy families raise their children then send them out to begin families of their own. Healthy churches mature disciples then send them out to begin new faith families and start new churches.

How might your missional community embrace the call of multiplication this year?

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