Over the last two years, The Church Multiplication Collective of The Wesleyan Church has partnered with Exponential to bring more than 50 Wesleyan leaders through multiplication cohorts, providing inspiration and practical understanding of church multiplication.
Each Wesleyan cohort is made up of a group of about 25 leaders who are committed to The Wesleyan Church’s mission to close the Gospel gap by multiplying disciples and churches until there is a transforming presence in every ZIP code.
Four specially-designed cohorts have been developed for 2020 by the Church Multiplication Collective for multiethnic ministries, emerging leaders, district superintendents and pastors of larger church congregations.
Ed Love, director of Multiplication for The Wesleyan Church, is passionate about helping leaders grow in their understanding of church multiplication.
Love said, “Multiplication is a whole philosophical shift because most people have been so inundated with the church growth thinking of the last 20 years. ‘How to grow your church’ has become the primary conference conversation, and ‘how to make your ministry better and bigger’ is what consumes leaders attention. For many, thinking about how to reproduce, multiply, and send out workers for the Lord’s harvest is a new paradigm of leadership development.”
Michael Rogalski, senior pastor of LifePoint Wesleyan Church in Maryland, has participated in a Wesleyan cohort in the last year. He noted that in a five-mile radius of the church he pastors, 60,000 people do not know Jesus, and a building will never be built to satisfy that need.
“The discipleship strategy can’t simply be ‘come here on the weekend.’ It has to be ‘come and see and then go and be.’ The cohort really helped me refine what that looks like. We will never multiply at a macro level unless we multiply disciples at a micro level,” Rogalski said. “So, we were okay at the growing thing. A lot of us get excited about numbers and attendance, to double in size in a couple of years is exciting, but we really have a lot of work to do at discipling and multiplying.”
But the number of multiplying churches in the United States is very small, a factor Love hopes to change in The Wesleyan Church through the Exponential cohort process.
Love said, “Jesus had just 12 disciples that he poured his life into, but he knew those 12 were going to reach a lot more people. He told them, ‘You’re going to go and do greater things than I did.’ So it’s that multiplication mentality that we’re trying to help leaders get. We’ll see more kingdom fruit happen through multiplication than we ever could with just addition thinking. This gets people out of a box that starts thinking outside of their specific community; they start thinking about a region.”
Luis Torres, who launched The Mix in 2018, was a member of one of the first Wesleyan cohorts. Torres echoed Love’s position on how the cohorts work to shift leaders’ understanding of church growth and development, forcing leaders to reconsider the models their churches have followed for generations.
“What the cohorts do is they make you think critically about models, about how your mind is shaped to follow certain models. They make you think about what the early church was trying to do and how far we’ve strayed,” Torres said. “The early church was reproducing at a much faster rate than what we are currently producing churches. And it’s not so much about producing churches – to me, it’s been an issue of discipleship. The American church has not done a very good job of discipling.”
The cohorts are a seven-month commitment which walk leaders through a discipleship phase, a leadership-development phase and a multiplication strategy phase. And though the general cohort set-up looks similar, Exponential avoids prescriptive teaching methods, ensuring each individual church need can be met with individual solutions.
“It is not prescriptive. No one is telling you, ‘Here’s what it needs to look like for you.’ So, we would celebrate every model. Everybody has a different perspective or philosophy of what they want to see unfold,” said Love.
Love has found that this celebration of different models has lessened the sense of competition within The Wesleyan Church.
“We just want to encourage, support, help each other, pray for each other. It is super cool to see all that happening. It is churches saying, ‘We need everybody going at it. We need to all lock arms and help each other win because it is about the Kingdom winning,’” Love said.
Learn more about The Wesleyan Church’s position on multiplication, or consider joining Exponential Conference 2020 for more information on cohorts. If you have further questions regarding church multiplication or cohorts, contact Ed Love: firstname.lastname@example.org.