I've just returned from Exponential, where I was challenged by the statistic that only 4 percent of churches in North America ever reproduce or multiply a new site or church. In the midst of our weekly sermon writing, curriculum planning, volunteer scheduling, it’s easy to get caught up in the internal responsibilities. But does this set us on a path to expand the Kingdom of God? After all, could you imagine if only 4% of couples in America reproduced?
Here’s the good news, Leadership Network just released research telling us that “83% of pastors under age 40 in growing churches have a vision to plant new sites or new churches.” This research tells us that the vast majority of young pastors in growing churches now see success in terms of becoming a reproducing or multiplying church.
Exponential 2018 focused on equipping pastors and church planters to lead a reproducing and multiplying church. The theme of “hero maker” was more than just a catchy slogan; it was a deep-dive in learning how leaders can multiply other leaders. If we are going to be a part of our churches reproducing and multiplying, we must die to the idea of being the hero and instead embrace the idea of being a hero maker.
So this year, the conference shared 5 essential practices of hero making:
1. Multiplication Thinking: A shift from our thinking that ministry happens through our own leadership to think that ministry happens through multiplied leaders.
Take away: There are many things we can choose in ministry, but – like Mary (in the story of Mary & Martha) – we must choose the greater thing. Are you really willing to be a hero maker – because it will cost a lot
2. Permission Giving: A shift from seeing what God can do through our own leadership to seeing what God can do through other leaders.
Take away: The 4 most important letters of the alphabet: I, C, N, U. I see in you! This is the greatest permission giving posture. Who is someone in your circle that you see something in, that you can begin speaking value into his or her life today?
3. Disciple Multiplying: A shift from sharing what we’ve learned to add followers to sharing what we’ve learned in ways that multiply disciples to the fourth generation.
Take away: Teaching information will bring crowds, but teaching obedience will make disciples. Your success may be determined by the crowds and what you did, but your legacy will be determined by your disciples and what they did.
4. Gift Activating: A shift from asking God to bless the use of our own gifts to asking God to bless leaders that we are sending out.
Take away: We aren’t God’s gift to people, Jesus is. Is it a part of your strategy to pour yourself out so much on those following you that they can do more than you ever could?
5. Kingdom Building: A shift from counting the people who show up at “our thing” to counting the leaders who go out and do “God’s thing.”
Take away: We must shift away from asking, “what can I receive” to “what can I release.” Your call is not to build an empire, but to bring the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of the church needs to surrender itself to the Kingdom of God.
It was incredible to be with thousands of other pastors and church planters learning from each other and networking together. We caught a glimpse of work being done all around the world – from congregations meeting in mega-churches to congregations gathering in huts. We can all be hero makers, but it means some changes must take place.
As we seek to start a movement in Central Kentucky helping existing churches thrive and sending out churches through multiplication, we’re doing the work of the Kingdom. We’re being the hands and feet of Jesus. Andy Stanley left me with a truth that has been resonating for weeks. I pray it’s encouraging for you, too. Stanley said, “If you lead by yourself or for yourself, in the end all you will have to show for yourself is yourself. The next time you start to feel like a big shot and people are telling you how great you are, go find some more feet to wash.”
Eric Rice, Executive Director of BCF
Eric and his wife, Molly, live in Lexington with their two children, Henry and Lucy. Eric currently serves as the Children’s Pastor at Journey Church in Versailles, where he ministers to children from birth-5th grade and their families. Previously, he served as a Children’s Pastor at Crossroads Christian Church. A lifelong Lexingtonian, he enjoys rooting on his Wildcats and spending time outside with his family.