‘Our fervent prayer is that we would close the gospel gap by mobilizing Kingdom Force, celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies itself until The Wesleyan Church has a transforming presence in every zip code.’ (Anita Eastlack)
The following descriptions provide a guide for you to assess your church. This is not about the size of a church but about its multiplication culture. From your own view, use the following graph and descriptions of the five levels, to assign a Level for your church.
Level 1: Subtracting
Approximately 80 percent of U.S. churches are subtracting (attendance is decreasing) or have plateaued. These churches live in a survival/ scarcity culture that makes it difficult to even think about multiplication. When there is a sustained period of decline, a church is at level 1.
Level 2: PlateauING
Churches that are plateaued demonstrate some characteristics of both subtraction and addition cultures. Their thinking lies in a state of tension between scarcity and growth. When there is a sustained period of plateau, the church is a level 2.
Level 3: Adding
Some 15 to 20 percent of churches find themselves here. In addition-growth churches, attendance is increasing. Many are often externally focused, making an impact in their surrounding communities, and many have added multi-site venues. For this framework, we intentionally defined churches that have a strong addition-growth culture, yet are not aggressively multiplying, as Level 3 churches. Most of the largest and fastest-growing churches that make our “envy lists” are actually Level 3 churches. A church is a level 3 church when it has sustained growth but without reproduction.
Level 4: Reproducing
At this level, approximately 4 percent of U.S. churches reproduce programmatically as part of their growth. While they may aspire to be a multiplying church and may even be making progress in that direction, too often the tensions and forces pulling them back to Level 3 limit their ability to move more fully to level 5. Because multiplication is not yet strongly embedded in their DNA, it won’t happen spontaneously without programming. A church is a level 4 church when it experiences sustained reproduction.
Level 5: Multiplying
Currently represented by less than 005 percent of U.S. churches, multiplying churches focus more on sending and releasing than catching and accumulating. They plant churches as a regular part of their existence. Level 5 church leaders see their church through a Kingdom lens. Their burden is more for Kingdom capacity than for local church capacity.
As you lead your church into a disciple-making church-multiplying movement, five shifts will occur,
- A shift in the hero story for the primary leader…from being the hero to becoming the mentor who creates heroes that become mentors.
- A shift in expectation for every believer…from being consumers or converts to being disciples who make disciples who make disciples to the fourth generation.
- A shift in opportunity for every disciple…from being a volunteer in a church to becoming a missionary to a mission field waiting to be declared.
- A shift in operation for the system…from the bias of “no” to the bias of “yes.”
- A shift in the scorecard…from counting the number of people in any one church to the percentage of a population changed. From accumulation to transformation.
Todd Wilson, Will Mancini. Dream Big, Plan Smart (Kindle Locations 257-260)
Todd Wilson, Multipliers, Leading Beyond Addition, pp 100-102
Dr. Anita Eastlack is executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church.