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Global Impact FEATURE

30 Multiplication VERSUS Non-Multiplication Dynamics

There are no pure multiplication cultures in church life – every regional and denominational culture has aspects of both. To the degree that the culture aligns more with the first part of the statement below, we can say that there exists a “culture of multiplication” within that system.

Here are 30 points of comparison that were a part of the thinking behind the Readiness 360.

  1. Extremely simple local church organization and focus (often worship, small group and outreach) VERSUS Lots of committees and complicated decision making. Church involved in major issues and projects beyond the minimum core of focus.
  2. Minimum of centralized activity. Groups lead, initiate new things. VERSUS Most ministry is staff-led or planned by a central committee.
  3. Trust of leaders at every level; Sacraments are given to the people. VERSUS High value for uniformity, managing down and central control.
  4. No one seems harried or rushed. VERSUS Staff are over-worked and exhausted, at capacity.
  5. Theology is indigenous to the culture so that unattached laity can easily jump onboard. VERSUS Theology is a priestly task with seminary education required for any perceived competency.
  6. There is a high view of Bible and it is used easily and freely in every type of gathering. Laity trusted. VERSUS The Bible is problematic and tricky. Most are illiterate – with many hostile, others protective.
  7. Within the shared theological Context, pastor’s major role is to teach Bible in large venue worship times and to pastor the leaders. VERSUS Pastor is the CEO, theologian in residence, shepherd for as many people as s/he can manage. Doing too much.
  8. Pastors are gifted as strong communicators and visionaries. VERSUS Pastors responsible for a wide array of concerns. They may be weak in the most critical areas.
  9. Anyone can lead a small group, and the group works well enough to nurture a dozen other folks. Groups regularly recognize when a group member is ready to be leading out on their own. VERSUS Training is required. Possibly uniform curriculum. Anxiety about theology being propagated in the group. Few are deemed trustworthy to lead.
  10. To belong is to serve. Everyone pitches in. VERSUS Church is service that we pay others to do for us.
  11. Pastors come together to lead. Prayer/deliberation lead to consensus. No one ever votes. VERSUS Democratic process surrounds many decisions at multiple levels of church.
  12. Church may often choose to avoid position statements on sticky issues, leave it to conscience of diverse membership. Pastors will still teach a position, but social statements are downplayed. VERSUS Social principles, denominational position papers, politically charged environment.
  13. No creed, no membership. VERSUS Confirmation, learning information, affirming creed.
  14. Theological agreement on a short list of principles by pastors and staff, but a very simple process of pastoral certification. VERSUS Cumbersome, lengthy process of theological formation with prospective pastors.
  15. Plain, functional (often leased) meeting space. Not expensive. VERSUS Elaborate facilities. High overhead costs.
  16. Evangelization is about finding the next leaders, the people who have the gifts and or passion. It is everyone’s concern. VERSUS Evangelization is about finding paying customers. Management’s problem.
  17. They pray about everything. Prayer is the main strategy. Prayer is central. VERSUS Prayer is perfunctory, often a ritual performed only by a “professional.”
  18. Widespread consensus on the relationship between the gospel and God’s plan for human beings. Common, simple theological language and framework. VERSUS Soteriological confusion. Disconnect about what difference the gospel makes for the world.
  19. Sometimes a franchise framework for like groups who wish to hop on board the network. VERSUS Distrust of anything our management team did not initiate.
  20. Sweet spot between grace and order. A lot of leaders fit here because there is grace to give them a chance here (without seminary, after divorce, after jail, etc.). VERSUS Though we may pride ourselves on grace, there is a culture of works and control operative on many levels. Snob factor.
  21. Small groups can feel like a marriage improvement cult. Groups will definitely form around the agendas of average people. VERSUS Small groups are not given freedom to become marriage cults (or other kinds of special interest groups). Staff picks the agenda.
  22. You pastor those entrusted to you, be it a group or a group of leaders. Very rare meetings for administration or fellowship. VERSUS Lots of leader meetings.
  23. Church on “the cheap.” The value of “Good Enough.” VERSUS Expensive church. The value of “Excellence in all things.”
  24. Innovation at the local level. Pastor held accountable for fruit. VERSUS Uniformity anxiety by the area management. Conference-wide initiatives mandated for all.
  25. Pastors have no tenure. They hold each other accountable. They are terminated from within their ranks. VERSUS Strong clergy union with no easy exit strategy when effectiveness ceases.
  26. New initiatives originate locally – churches plant churches. VERSUS Planting is centralized.
  27. Everybody, every group every church is expected to reproduce. Multiplication at all levels. VERSUS We add new members, classes, and churches, one by one.
  28. All shapes and sizes of church affirmed, the simpler the better. VERSUS Churches should be big enough to have “critical mass” and pay full-time pastor plus denominational dues.
  29. Reproduction is rapid and possible within weeks or months. VERSUS Reproduction takes years.
  30. Church health rooted in spiritual depth and outward focus. VERSUS Church health measured in people in pews and dollars in plates.

What would you add? What would you challenge?

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