Church Multiplication Associates having figured out the content represented in this article so far, has attempted to live by these principles. We remain vibrant and alive because we choose to not maintain our life. In fact, as an organization goes, we have consistently made suicidal corporate decisions. Well, perhaps suicidal is too strong a word, we simply haven't fought to stay alive or preserve our organizational life.
We have many resources we have spent money, time and energy producing that end up not reproducing in multiple contexts and are now collecting dust on a shelf. We call it the Shelf of Shame. Many of the resources on this shelf produce excellent addition results (church growth) in a specific cultural context, but will not work overseas or will not produce exponential results (church multiplication). We could make a profit by making these tools available to the church growth market. Even though we have a vested interest in the success of these resources, we chose instead to not make them available to others.
I have found that good is often the enemy of the best, so we shelve anything that is less than fruitful in multiplicative results on an international scale. I believe any healthy ministry should have a shelf of shame where they are willing to put aside valuable resources that no longer are contributing to the overall purpose of the organization. This is an expression of dying to oneself and the life that comes from it is found in the vital resources that have passed the scrutiny of the shelf of shame. Because we were willing to allow good ministry tools to die better ones emerged in their place, thus proving the concept that if we die for Christ’s sake we will find life.
For three years in a row we have lost thousands of dollars hosting a conference for our leaders. A business could never survive with such decisions, but we are not a business. We believe that God wanted us to host the conference and that if that were so He would provide, and He has. I have to wonder if God is more gracious in provision because we are generous in this way. If we did not sense God leading us to do the conference than we would not have done it.
The Greenhouse Organic Church training is by far a key factor in our success as a movement. It has nearly doubled in people being trained every year. If we had a self-preservationist mentality we would consider the Greenhouse our bread and butter staple and protect it, but we do not. We decided to give it away to any faithful practitioner who asks for it. We will give them the complete powerpoint, sample film clips and workbook masters to anyone who asks as long as they have started three to five organic churches after they went through the training. By not protecting our bread and butter but giving it away we have doubled and then tripled the number of proven trainers and our movement has longer legs because of it. Again, life was the result of dying to self.
These are just a few of the examples of how we have chosen to not sustain ourselves in conventional ways so that God Himself can be our source of provision and life. It is our hope that as long as we cling with white knuckles to Jesus for our sustenance and hold loosely to all else we will continue to have a vibrant expression of life and delay the decay of institutionalization. That is our theory and it has been proven right so far. Who knows how long our movement can live if we are unwilling to keep it alive?