Friday, December 12, 2008

Misguided Misgivings 4: Do the math

Here is where I see a big difference between the attractional model and the missional model. An attractional model will not reproduce and multiply, it can only add. Addition growth is not enough because the population of the world is rapidly multiplying and addition will not keep up. We must change to reach this world.

Basic math is absolute. For every equation there are infinite numbers of wrong answers and only one right answer. You cannot use addition formulas and hope to get multiplicative results. The attractional formula is at best an addition strategy. In most cases I do not think it is even addition, but subtraction—taking Christians from other churches.

Adding services or video venue sites is not multiplying. Stop calling it that! Multiplication occurs when the offspring birth offspring that birth offspring. Without multiple generations there is no multiplication, only addition. Don't say you are multiplying until you get to the fourth generation (2 Tim. 2:2).

The more expensive the church is, and the more there is a demand for professional leadership to conduct the ministry, the less likely there will be any multiplication. This has been proven time and again. The evidence is, in fact overwhelming. You can say what you are doing is multiplying, but if the only key you hit on the calculator has a plus sign on it you will only get addition results. You cannot use addition methods to get multiplicative results. You have to stop using addition practices if you want to start using multiplication strategies.

Addition is not bad, it is better than subtraction or division, but it is not multiplication. If you are adding churches, that is not a bad thing, but it is not enough to reach this world. If we are so engulfed in addition methodology that we cannot change we will forfeit our call on this planet. The first commandment God gave to man was to multiply. The last command Jesus gave His disciples carried with it the idea of multiplying. This is not an option, it is our mandate.

Multiplication strategies always start small and always start slow. Momentum picks up as the generations reproduce themselves. Our problem is we get impatient and are easily seduced by the faster addition growth possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Neil, this is good stuff. I read Dan's blog and was rather disappointed. I've also been following your responses to it, as well as Alan's. A local pastor here in Vegas wrote an interesting response to Dan's blog...i was saddened by it. I shared with him the last sentence of this post, which to me seems to sum up the problem we are facing in the American church:

"Multiplication strategies always start small and always start slow. Momentum picks up as the generations reproduce themselves. Our problem is we get impatient and are easily seduced by the faster addition growth possibilities."

This is the issue over and over again. We wanna justify what we're doing by the "good", as if that makes it ok that we aren't pursuing the GREAT. Bummer. Thanks for your wisdom.

David Phillips said...

Neil,

Thank you for this series.

We have adopted a framework of success that includes how many and how much. But real success in ministry is based on investment, obedience, and reproduction.

Otherwise, I know a lot of missionaries, including a few during biblical times, that would be considered failures.

Neil Cole said...

Thanks Aaron.

Neil Cole said...

True, David. We all know Paul was successful, yet when he died he was alone with Luke and Timothy and was rejected by about everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I guess Jesus would have been considered a "ministry failure" as well--from multitudes down to droves leaving him, down to his twelve, who all deserted him except for John the night before he died (not to mention one dude selling him out and another cussin' out others in denial).

Great thoughts and a killer series.

Bruce Gordon said...

Hi Neil, I was really struck by
two sentences: "Without multiple generations there is no multipli-cation, only addition. Don't say
you are multiplying until you get to the fourth generation (2 Tim. 2:2)"

Wow, this is So Simple, but
so powerful.

Thanks for blogging & sharing.

Bruce Gordon