"increase, multiply and fill the earth..."
For those who know me, this is a text I love quoting. It gives us a wonderful inclination of what the Father had in mind in a sinless world. Like a family, when two people discover the wonder of love, marry, have children - we know that is full, rich and delightful increase. However, the very essence of parenting is to raise up the children to leave home, get married, have their own children - that is the power of multiplication. These children and grand children are then empowered on their gospel adventure that will fill the earth and this we celebrate.
When I first started studying what happens to movements in the second and third generations I found that they tended to implode or institutionalize. That was rather depressing, so I asked professors, global leaders and pastors if that was just the way movements are suppose to go. Well their answers were intriguing. But that is for another time.
Our DNA is to multiply - just as it happens in the family, so too we are looking to empower churches to do the same. We all know it is not enough to simply add more folks into our churches. Rather faith tends to explode when we multiply - be it campuses or church planting or global assignments. We have found that our communities want to know that they are part of a global changing story. Simply adding more Life Groups and programs does not ignite great faith.
But the part that excites us most is the multiplication of our sphere. When I look at the life of Jesus, he was fully and passionately committed to multiplication. He did not hand over his 'movement' to one man [even though the Catholics dearly want to motivate that he handed over leadership to Peter, there in insufficient biblical evidence to believe this.]
Rather Jesus prepared 12 men for this global assignment. The great multiplying texts of Matthew 28, Mark 16 and Acts 1 lay the platform for a new way of doing this apostolic journey. Our commitment is not global conquest of one imperialistic mandate - always adding more churches to the mix. Rather, we want to raise up AND release many authentic, indigenous apostolic stories in the countries and contexts in which we minister. When we have achieved this in a country, like Paul says in Romans 15, our task is done and we will move on to the next situation to repeat this assignment.
I have no desire to establish one single growing apostolic story. Rather the passion that grips our hearts is to multiply many apostolic households from this one [Like Terry Virgo has done with NF]. When M and I enter the twilight years, genesis as a family of churches will ride with us. Our prayer and faith is that we would have seen the emergence of many wonderfully unique, context specific, apostolic families, led in collaboration by the Ephesians 4 gifts, proclaiming the gospel, advancing the kingdom and preparing the way for His return. That is a glimpse of true multiplication through our lenses.