At my last congregation in Milwaukee we had reached a critical place in our ministry, it was year six of our ten-year vision plan. As a church, we had reached a point where God had given us an opportunity to do something bold for the kingdom. We had the chance to plant an African immigrant church. Unfortunately, we also ran into four considerable hurdles to clear. In this post, we will look at the four barriers you must navigate to create a church multiplication movement in your congregation.
- The perception of scarcity of resources.
Many churches do not take the leap of faith into church planting because members worry they don’t have sufficient resources to share with a church plant and still meet their current obligations. Though our God is a generous God, we live life much like Hattie Green.
It was 1916, and Hattie Green was dead. Hattie’s life is a sad demonstration of what it is like to be among the living dead. When Hattie died, her estate was valued at over $100 million; yet Hattie lived in poverty. She ate cold oatmeal because it cost money to heat it. When her son’s leg became infected, Hattie wouldn’t get it treated until she could find a clinic that wouldn’t charge her. By then, her son’s leg had to be amputated. Hattie died arguing over the value of drinking skim milk. She had money to meet her every need, but she chose to live as if it didn’t exist. Turning Point, March 1993.
Do you genuinely believe that if we asked God for the resources to carry out the mission He gave to the church, He would deny us? In John 16, Jesus reminds us of God’s generosity. “23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
2) Silo thinking
Silo thinking produces part-time disciples. Part-time disciples are partially committed to the church and God’s mission. Part-time disciples are defined in the Bible in this manner:
- More concerned with what people think. “Am I trying to win over human beings or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I wouldn’t be Christ’s slave. Galatians. 1:10
- More concerned with their public image. “6The influential leaders didn’t add anything to what I was preaching—and whatever they were makes no difference to me, because God doesn’t show favoritism.” Galatians 2:6
- More concerned about bringing people into the church (Jerusalem). While this is not a wrong motive, the mission is larger (Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth) than growing your church attendance. 6 As a result, those who had gathered together asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?” 7 Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8
3) Being too church centric.
In the book “Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow,” by Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im, they warn against having a church-centric mindset. A church-centric mindset is the temptation to focus so much on the needs of the local church that you forget to include space, time and resources for those outside your walls. “We must overcome the church centricity barrier by moving from an ‘inward focus’ to an ‘outward focus.’ So, what does an ‘outward focus’ look like? In our research on transformational churches, churches that met our criteria as a transformational church had 67 percent of members agree that, ‘our church leaders think as missionaries and work to understand the cultural context in our region.’ In addition, 71 percent believed, ‘our leadership senses a call to our local city or community,’ and 77 percent said, ‘Our church leadership understands the context.’”
Imagine have a congregation that understands the mission is outside its walls. What happens far too often is that these numbers are in reverse.
4) We have enough churches attitude.
The final barrier to starting a church planting movement is that most churches believe multiplication is not for their congregation. Many just don’t see the need. Their argument being we have too many churches now, why don’t we just focus on getting our own wayward members back, then we will be just fine. To be fair, many understand the vision behind church planting but just don’t have a personal conviction to participate in a multiplication movement. Leaders need to not only get their people to buy into this vision but often need to be convinced themselves. Which means as a leader you need to share this vision clearly, consistently, and creatively in various forms and fashions. The research shows that “Churches who regularly communicated a commitment to multiplication were more likely to multiply within their first five years than those who don’t.” 
What we communicate most often, most passionately gets done. What are you communicating to your congregation on a regular basis? Of course, we better be communicating Jesus and Him crucified, but how are we communicating His mission?
 “Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow.” E. Stetzer & D. Im, p. 37
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