A few thoughts on multiplying churches

iStock_000001921014XSmallFollowing up on the list of top 25 multiplying churches in the US, here a few observations. . . It helps if you're not too old Older churches (pre-1970) did poorly when it came to multiplying. Only one multiplying church in the top 25 was started in the 1920s. Two each from the 50s and 60s. Conclusion? It's going to be tough, but not impossible if you're from a church with a long and respectable history and you're in big trouble if the churches in your denomination are mostly pre-1970s.

The spread is pretty even after 1970. Six churches founded in the 70s made the list. Five churches in the 80s. Six churches in the 90s.

We don't have all the figures for the 2000-2009. Stetzer is good but he's not that good. What is interesting is that three churches made the list from this decade. One of them, Summit Church (founded 2003), has grown to 1,000 members and has helped start seven new churches in four years.

That means you don't have to wait too long before you start multiplying churches. In fact, if you do wait, you may never get around to it.

Size is not the issue

I bet you've never heard of Set Free church in Yucaipa, California. Why would you? It's “just” a church of 350 in world that measures church success by church size. This church of 350 has planted 70 churches and 75% of those 70 churches have also planted a church. They give away 30% of their budget to church planting. Those guys are in my hall of fame.

Then there's the First Southwest Baptist Church of Alief, Texas. You haven't heard of them either. They have “only” 120 people. The same number gathered at Pentecost. They also give 30% of their budget to church planting and they have started 68 new churches.

Give a little or give a lot

Top multiplying churches give between 2-30% of their budget to church planting. The average is 11%—close to a tithe. So next time you teach on tithing don't forget to apply it to giving away money and people to church planting.

The 80/20 rule

80% of new churches will come from 20% of the existing churches. Three churches on the list—Redeemer Presbyterian Church (No. 1), Mars Hill Church Seattle (No. 2), and CrossPointe Church in Orlando, Fla. (No. 21)—were sponsored by Presbyterian congregation Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Fla. (No. 5). Only Redeemer is of the same denomination as Spanish River.

In fact the ratio may be closer to 90/10. Please prove me wrong.

Leadership, leadership, leadership

I don't know most of the leaders of these top multiplying churches. The ones do know champion a compelling vision for church planting movements. Some of them lead large churches, but they view the world through missionary eyes. They aren't content with a full auditorium. Like John Wesley, the world is their parish.