initiative to intentionally reproduce themselves. They must see
that church multiplication is not just the latest ministry fad; it
is deeply rooted in Scripture. It’s God’s idea.
From the beginning, the Creator designed all healthy organisms with the capacity and desire to reproduce. God’s purpose
for all living creatures was clear: “Be fruitful and multiply”
(Gen. 1: 22, 28). Multiplication was the sign and substance of
God’s blessing. Each group—plants, animals, people—was
commanded to “bring forth” (reproduce) “according to its
kind.” Since the church is a living organism, God’s creative
plan requires that it, too, continually reproduce itself. Just as
we are to multiply physically, we’re intended to multiply spiritually. Thus, church parenting should be viewed as natural.
The Great Commission strategy of Christ is actually a
spiritual multiplication mandate. He expects His followers to
make and multiply disciples (Matt. 28: 19, 20). His method for
accomplishing this objective is evangelism, baptism, catechism,
and congregationalism. Christ’s disciple-making plan is to
be carried out through the agency of the local church. Thus,
to obey His mandate, if there is no congregation in a nearby
community, we must start one. That is the story of the book of
Acts: when people were saved, they were added to the church
(2: 42–47). Christ’s call is for both individual and corporate reproduction. So church parenting should be viewed as
The book of Acts shows that church multiplication was in
the DNA of the early church, part of God’s plan from the
start. How did the apostles and first Christians carry out the
last command of Christ? The historical record shows they
reached their world through intentional church multiplication.
Three things are said to have “multiplied” when God’s people
obeyed their marching orders: the Word of God (Acts 6: 7;
12: 24), the number of disciples (6:1, 7), and the number of
churches regionally (9: 31).
At each of these summary marker points in Acts, multiplication is the end result of the obedience of God’s people.
The same Greek word, plēthunō, is used for “multiply” in each
of these references. This word speaks not just of adding to
the church (Acts 2: 47) but of exponential increase. It is a
mark of the work of the Spirit of God. Luke shows how the
church started by Jesus continued to expand as the Holy Spirit
worked through the disciples. This expansion was geographic,
but growth was quantitative, qualitative, and organic. Luke was
recording for believers of every age what the church should
In the apostle Paul’s ministry in particular, we see this
focused evangelistic strategy: he planted new churches that in
turn planted new churches! The goal was never just to plant a
single church. Paul’s passion and plan was always to evangelize
and plant where Christ had not yet been named and known
(Rom. 15:20, 21).
Throughout Acts, the spread of the gospel and the
Dispelling Fears about Birthing
a Daughter Church
Many churches seem reluctant to reproduce themselves in the form
of new churches. This is unfortunate and unnatural.
Somewhere along the way, church reproduction and multiplication
became unusual in North America. Usually it’s because the pastor and
leaders have developed misconceptions conditioned by common fears
about parenting. Before moving forward into a church parenting project,
these fears and concerns need to be dealt with.
Here are six of the most common concerns and myths, with suggested responses.
1. “We’re too small”
Few churches believe they’re large enough to reproduce. This raises
the question, How big does a church need to be to start another? In
practice, most congregations believe the answer is always just a little
larger than they are. The reality is that 80 percent of North American
churches are started by healthy, small- and medium-size churches.
Reproduction has more to do with your value system than your size.
It is more an issue of your commitment to the Great Commission than
the size of your membership or budget. We must remember that God
has promised to do immeasurably more than we can imagine (Eph.
3:20). He often uses small things to confound the wise.
2. “It will cost too much”
Many average-size churches fear that parenting will be too expensive. They know sending seed families often means giving away tithers
and committed givers. God, however, honors the Great Commission
commitment of parenting churches. Studies show that normally within
six months, a sponsoring church replaces its people sent to the new
church. The same holds true of the finances. Prospective parents need
to believe the Lord: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts
20: 35). We can never outgive the Lord!
Church planting should not be confused with constructing a building.
It’s a faith venture, where people are brought together in relationships
of fellowship and worship. Parenting doesn’t need tons of cash; it’s a
people program, not a construction project. We don’t need to start with
an elaborate facility. There are many avenues for funding, and God will
always bless a sacrificial church.
The truth is, in terms of actual dollars, planting a new church can be
the most effective method of evangelization a church can invest in.
3. “We’ll forfeit precious church fellowship”
Many fear parenting will destroy church unity and result in a loss of
too many dear friends. True, there is pain in childbirth. Seeing devoted
members of the church family move to the new church hurts. Parenting always involves sacrifices, but as in a human family, it’s worth the
Church parenting is a Biblical exercise of giving rather than getting
or having. Typically in such selfless giving, the church receives a new
rallying point and unites around a new challenge. The mother church