Most American churches are doing lots of addition, subtraction and division. Few are doing multiplication.
+ It’s easy to settle for addition. At least it is positive growth. Addition is safe. Addition is comfortable. But addition is often the result of a lack of mission and vision. Church leaders get bogged down in caring for the urgent and the existing members are happy because the attention is all on them. Sometimes people move into the area and just naturally look for a church. Put out a sign and we can probably grow through addition.
– However, addition is just a step away from subtraction. People start to withdraw from the church when the church has no purpose. I bet more people leave the church out of boredom than from being asked to step up and pursue the Great Commission.
÷ We don’t even want to talk about division. No church wants division. When a church has no unifying mission for their church, people divide over the stupidest stuff. Division is the opposite of multiplication. The lack of multiplication (of disciples, small groups, leaders, churches) leads to division.
x Multiplication is hard. Multiplication requires vision and leadership. Multiplication requires sacrifice and commitment. Multiplication is what disciples of Jesus thrive on. Multiplication takes much prayer and a lot of hard work. Multiplication requires evangelism and a passion for making disciples. Bill Hull says,
If the church fails to make disciples, it fails to multiply. If the church fails to multiply, it fails.
We all know that division is failure, but so is subtraction and addition. Multiplication brings glory to God. It is what we are commissioned to do. If a church is dividing, subtracting, or merely adding it’s not enough. Only multiplication will do if we are truly pursuing Jesus’ mission. Only multiplication can be attributed to the power of God at work through His people.
My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples. (John 15:8)