It’s an exciting time to be part of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches! That’s because now more than ever, people are catching our vision of establishing reproducing churches worldwide—and it shows. Every year, we’re adding new churches to our fellowship across the United States, as well as engaging unreached people groups for the Gospel around the world, and it’s happening in record numbers.
In fact, you could say church multiplication is part of our DNA. Scott Wagoner, National Church Planting Director, explains. “A key part of our multiplication strategy is to plant churches that will, in turn, plant churches. It’s an important shift in thinking that focuses on intentionality.” In the past, as Scott explains, FEC planted churches in response to people from our denomination moving to new places and wanting a place of worship that was FEC-affiliated. But that was the end goal—to expand as people moved.
Today, however, our church plants have the mindset from day one that they will plant more churches. “It’s a subtle difference,” says Scott, “but a significant one. Most people are familiar with the idea that we are called to multiply personally as we share our faith and make disciples. But we’re supposed to do that as churches, too, multiplying ourselves as congregations.”
According to Scott, effective multiplication involves paying attention to the people God is bringing to the church and staying alert for future opportunities. Where can we establish a new, fresh expression of the Gospel? Where is God at work, and how could a new church help advance that work? “Even more important,” says Scott, “is discovering how we can send the message loud and clear, that we’re here for the people who don’t think they belong here. Those are the very people we want to reach.”
Intentional multiplication is something we plan for—and staff for. And don’t forget that FEC is here to help churches with back office support, oversight, and training new leaders through residency programs. We’ve seen the vision for multiplication grow through church-planting co-ops, where smaller churches band together to launch new churches in key areas in the region. However it happens, FEC churches are realizing that they need to get on board and keep planting churches that plant churches.
On the international front, the idea is much the same. Whether churches (or “communities of Christ followers,” as we call them) are meeting in a 3,000-person building, in someone’s hut, or under a tree, FEC is intentionally pursuing our mission statement by obeying the Great Commission and fulfilling the Great Commandment. These two goals form the Biblical foundation for everything we do. “Specifically,” says Hal Lehman, International Church Planting Director, “our goal is to reach unreached people groups, not just neighborhoods or regions.”
According to Hal, this kind of multiplication implies a movement, not just a plan to plant individual churches. Referring to David Garrison, author of Church Planting Movements, this new approach focuses on rapidly multiplying indigenous churches that plant churches that sweep across a people group or population segment. Hal explains, “A rapid increase means that within 10-15 years, everyone within an entire people group would have the potential to hear—and respond—to the Gospel.” Here, too, multiplying is an essential part of the plan. “Whatever strategy we use has to have the potential for multiplication, where two become four, and four become 16, and so on.”
But that’s not all. On the international front, the word “indigenous” is key. In the case of unreached people groups, of course, the movement starts with a missionary, but the goal is to transfer that momentum as rapidly as possible to the new believers. “We help with funds and training,” says Hal, “but we want to remove ourselves as soon as possible. We have to make it work within their culture, and there’s no one better equipped to do that than the indigenous believers. The reproduction comes from within.”
The bottom line is this: If we as a fellowship are to be found faithful with the task God has set before us—to obey the Great Commandment and fulfill the Great Commission—then multiplication must be part of our DNA.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help us establish rapidly multiplying groups of Christ followers, please give us a call or send us an email. We’d love to get you and your fellow Christ followers on board!