Addition Before Multiplication

There are some pretty simple rules when it comes to math, maybe that’s why I like math, unlike English or other “flowable”subjects, math is constant. When you apply the rules, you always get the right answer. 2+2 will always equal 4…always!

This is why I like Jesus’ model of church planting. We have already established that real church growth, the kind the Jesus is interested in, is about making disciples. You just cant’ get away from that…that’s the rule and if you apply it you will always “get the right answer” in our case, be fruitful.

I have read just about every church growth book there is, ok maybe not every one, but I have read a lot. There is a common them in these books, namely, how to make your church bigger. Not a whole lot talking about discipleship, slow growth, learn to add before trying to multiply…until recently.

There seems to be a shift in our thinking about church planting and what makes a fruitful church. People are not as interested in the big top show, the smoke machine, or the laser light show as they once were.  What we are discovering is that people just want genuine relationships! Just be real. It [Sunday Morning] doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it real. That’s what people are looking for.

As a pastor I have some confessions to make. When we came to Colorado, it was under the premise of starting a “Big Top” style church. Big auditorium, big children’s ministry, big worship, just go big! I have wrestled with the concepts like “missional, house church, and incarnational. Honestly, some of these terms meant nothing to me, or they offered a negative connotation. I have constantly suppressed the desire to legitimize our existence here. By that I mean going and renting a building, doing a huge marketing campaign, and raising lots of money...that isn’t our course. 

At KeyStone Church, we are learning Acts 2:42 first. In verse 47 it says…”the Lord added…” Isn’t it interesting that God adds before he multiplies? I believe there is a concept that we need to learn here. Addition is simple, once you know the rules, a kindergartener can learn to add. Ask a three year old what their age is and they will proudly display 3 fingers. I think Jesus is trying to get something through to us. Get simple, learn to add before trying to multiply. It’s also important to note that God did the adding. The church really just did what they loved to do! They lived life together! 

In the book of Acts, multiplication doesn’t happen until chapter 6, and then they realized that they could have had serious problems, but because they learned addition first; the problem was averted, and they had men they could trust to handle the situation.

What have we missed because we want to multiply before we learn to add? In addition there is strong relationship birthed and sustained. In addition, there is strong leadership developed. In addition there is the foundation laid to handle multiplication. 

If you’re a church planter and are struggling to grow…just stop! go back to the basics, let God teach you addition. Let him add to your fellowship. Then you’ll appreciate and understand the responsibility of multiplication. I believe God wants to grow his church. But let’s let him do it, he’s much better at it than we are. Our responsibility is to make disciples, start there. Seriously, practice Acts 2:42, it’ll blow your mind to see what God does!

We are growing at KeyStone Church, we can’t help it. We are not really trying to promote our Sunday celebration, God is just adding to our fellowship. Honestly…we can’t handle multiplication right now, we are still working on addition and getting those rules right.

Because we are learning addition, I don’t have to beg people to start things…i.e. Ladies Bible studies, or men’s groups, or teen prayer. These things are happening out of the desire of the people who God is sending. My job as a pastor is to make sure they fulfill their God-given talent, and give them the platform they need to be fruitful! I don’t try to control or manipulate, or make people feel guilty for not serving. I know it will come, God will send the people he wants to grow his church. It’s a great way to live, I gotta be honest. I pray for God to send to us the people we need to see his church be fruitful…he is always faithful.

I am learning the church may look completely different then what I thought it was. I am confessing my weaknesses in knowing that I want to make the church look like I want it to. I am always challenged by this, and yet there is always grace to screw it up and let God make the adjustments. 

Add first…multiplication will come…

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