What is Church Multiplication Ministry

Tim O’Neill, Exec. Chair
Exponential Australia.

What the Heck is Multiplication Ministry?

Would you prefer that someone gave you one million dollars now, or one dollar?
Naturally you’d probably be very quick to say “I’ll take the one million dollars please!”
But what if instead of just giving you one dollar this week, next week they gave you two dollars and the following week four dollars and the week after eight dollars with this pattern repeating itself every week for a year?
Now, I’ll ask the question again, would you prefer one million dollars now or one dollar now with the amount you have doubling every week for a year?

If you chose the one million dollars now, that’s exactly what you’d get. 
But if you chose the other option, after 52 weeks you’d have a mind-blowing $2,251,799,813,685,250!

To put it another way, that’s $2,251 trillion and it would make even the richest people in the world seem like paupers in comparison with your wealth now being about 10,000 times more than theirs.

Are you starting to catch a glimpse of the power of multiplication?
Now let’s shift the goal posts a little, or quite a lot actually!

If Jesus said to all who would follow Him, that He makes us all fishers of people, the result would be extraordinary! In fact if every person who became a follower of Jesus led just one person to faith a year, and if each of the new followers of Jesus led one more person to become a follower of Jesus each year, within 10 years there would be more than 500 new followers of Jesus!
That’s multiplication ministry.

Jesus said it many times in different ways.
If we are to be a disciple, we are to go and make disciples.
If we are new creations, we are to be His ambassadors.
If we are to receive the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, we are to be His witnesses.
Christianity is meant to be a multiplication ministry. But all too often it becomes like a farm dam rather than a river flowing through the countryside irrigating vast tracts of land.

Multiplication was always God’s intent. We just need to look at the dominion mandates expressed in Genesis 1 and 9 to see this. His command to mankind was to “… be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” ((Genesis 9:7))

But what about churches? Should they be a multiplication ministry?
Let me tell you about Ralph Moore. Ralph is 78 now and still passionate about raising leaders who will multiply churches. Over the years, Ralph planted 8 churches in the USA. That’s not bad. Ralph was a serial church planter!
But there’s more to the story. Ralph’s churches had a DNA of multiplication instilled in them so that they planted more churches, and the new churches planted even more churches. At last count there are over 2,600 churches that have been planted from the original 8 churches!

Some of these churches remained small. Others grew to be thousands in size.
At one stage Ralph moved to Hawaii to plant a church. Ralph recounts what happened:
“ When we moved to Hawaii, our team was instructed (by the Spirit) to plant and help others plant enough churches in ten years that we would have converted one percent of the state. At that time, only four percent of the population called themselves believers. It took 11 years but touched off a movement showing 67 percent calling themselves Christ-followers just 23 years later.” (12 Things They Should have Told Me Before I Planted a Church, p 18)

That’s the fruit of a ministry that truly embraces multiplication. It’s the kind of movement God can and will use to see the good news of Jesus spread with disciples who make disciples, leaders who raise leaders and churches that plant churches.
And it’s not just happening in Ralph’s multiplying ministry. Steve Addison who recently released his great book “Acts and the Movement of God” described in this book how the number of multiplying movements around the world is exploding.
“A decade ago, researcher Justin Long thought there were around a hundred multiplying movements of disciples and churches around the world. By 2017, he’d documented six hundred movements. By 2020, he was tracking 1,369 movements, with at least seventy-seven million disciples in 4.8 million churches; that’s 1 percent of the world’s population.”
The question on the lips of many Australian ministry leaders is “what would it take to see multiplication take off across the Australian Church?”

Earlier this year Bishop Ric Thorpe from the UK gave some simple advice when he spoke at the Exponential Australia Regional Events. Ric spoke of four simple practices that will stimulate multiplication in any ministry.

  1. When you disciple someone, ask the person you are discipling who they are discipling.
  2. Ensure that all leaders, whether a ministry leader or the leader of a small group has an apprentice leader who they can raise to take their place or go to another ministry.
  3. When you train a church planter, don’t just train the church plant leader but the whole team!
  4. And when you plant a church, plant pregnant with the future leader of the next church plant assisting as the associate leader of the church plant.

If we are to see the seeds of multiplication sewn in ministries across this nation, and in particular in church planting, we need to see our thinking shifted to see multiplication embraced.

Going back to the first question I asked at the beginning of this article, what would give the greatest return; one million dollars today of one dollar doubling every week for a year. And what would have the greater impact for Christianity in our nation; planting a large church or planting a church that planted churches that planted churches?

Tim O’Neill
Exec. Chair
Exponential Australia.