Whenever I engage in any new study, I go back to the garden. The first three chapters of Genesis are a wondrous wonderland of truth that reveals the original divine intention. It gives us these great kodak moments that show us what God desired before the fall. The great "before the beginning" trinitarian dance of full unity yet celebrating diversity, opens our eyes to many deep conversations, especially when the topic of conversation is ecclesiological entrepreneurialship.
The revelation of this text is the heart of God in a perfect world is fully apostolic. The garden was never a destination but a point of departure. That was where 'increase' would start, but from which the "earth was to be filled".
"Increase" happens when we get married and have kids. "Multiplication" happens when our kids leave home, get married and have kids. "Fill the earth" is when we deposit into our kids a massive apostolic story, whereby they believe they can play a role in changing the world, giving themselves to a journey that traverses the nations.
"Increase" happens when we grow our churches, one person at a time. "Multiplication" happens when we church plant or multi-site. "Fill the earth" occurs when we embrace the apostolic heart of God and present to the church a large apostolic story that they feel they can impact the world by being part of a larger story than simply their community.
When one traces the redemption story through the scriptures, there is a quiet traveling companion that reflects these three ingredients. The progression of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob then the boys, reveal a similar story. Looking at Jesus and the eleven, again these three ingredients are passionately revealed after three years - Jesus "increases" his ministry to the eleven [not to one], they in turn "multiply" their ministry and through this call, they "fill the earth" - not through one movement or organization, but through many.
What heart of man, brings God's heart much joy in this multi-siting conversation? May I be as bold as to suggest:
- Creative Entrepreneur - God is introduced as a creator. I suspect he loves entrepreneurs who explore and expand the boundaries of kingdom activities. It requires risk and risk requires faith. This delights him,
- Apostolic Leader - the garden always reminds us that God's intention was to "fill the earth". A leader who engages in this big picture brings a smile to heaven,
- Gospel Exploration - when the gospel truly captures our heart, we simply cannot keep it to ourselves. There is something inside of us that demands retelling, to ever new contexts and spaces,
- Leadership Gifting - ministry has a very real possibility to take the person with a leadership gift and make a manager out of them, sucking life out of them. We cannot "hide our light under a bushel,"losing that Spirit empowered grace manifestation with the deathly repetition of daily ritual. The gift of leadership is a grace from the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, and we must find ways to express it,
- City Transformation - in our journey, we became so comfortable with the 'disciple the nations' priority that we forgot our Jerusalem. Multi-siting has been an act of divine mercy to remind us that the city we minister in is still uppermost in his mind. Not that we are to go it alone, but we are to give it much greater attention,
- Cultural Reality - in Acts 2, we are told that: "we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God" vs 11. Whist this does talk of tongues, it also tells us that everyone has the right to hear the gospel in their own tongue. This architecture now empowers us toward that goal,
- Ecclesiological Flexibility - the notion that there is one model or pattern may be ecclesiological arrogance or ignorance. The village in Africa will never have the same shape and form that the kingdom community has in Manhattan. That is also true in our cities when we wrestle with demography, economics, travel distances and other cultural / contextual realities. We simply cannot do everything at one place, at one time, in one language...
- Empowered Priesthood - a healthy church will grow. The larger the church, often the more unhealthy she becomes. By percentage, fewer people are active in ministry relying more and more on the few stud celebrities. Multi-siting mobilizes the priesthood without losing the momentum of growth that a healthy church produces.
I believe in multi-siting. It may just require some weighty and deep conversations before the journey is embarked upon. We will go back to the future tomorrow.