As you coach and develop more leaders, your ministry organization grows. This reality often creates challenges for leaders. They quickly find that what they’ve been doing successfully suddenly doesn’t work anymore. The senior leader who has been developing other leaders himself or herself begins running short of time. They’re not able to develop as many leaders as are needed for a growing organization. What works at one stage won’t work at the next stage. We need to continue reorganizing as we move from one developmental stage to the next– and there comes a point when the next stage isn’t just developing more leaders but multiplying the whole organization.
The great commission has never been about just starting one church or one missional community. The goal is to reach all people with the transforming message of the gospel: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Although we are sent to all people groups, near and far, our starting point is wherever we are right now—our own local Jerusalem. Our Jerusalem includes the people who live where we do and who are culturally similar to us. From there, we spread throughout our region: Judea and Samaria. At this point we begin to be stretched a bit. These are all people who live somewhat near us, but some of them are culturally different from us.
The next step from there takes us across massive cultural divides: the ends of the earth. That literally means all people groups. Jesus called us to be his witnesses, locally, regionally, and globally. We start where we are, but we don’t stop there. We are to spread the message of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Crossing those barriers will require the development of new apostolic and prophetic leaders who represent those groups. If we are starting a ministry within a group that is not our own, we need to start with an exit in mind. We’ll need to empower someone else to lead after we’re gone. Cross-cultural missionaries need to see their task as a midwife. The role is not to stay and pastor the church but to phase out once it is established. Taking this approach means that training and empowering local leadership needs to be a primary objective.
Here are some good coaching questions you can ask yourself to help you get started thinking about multiplying movements:
- Think of where you live. Who is in your Jerusalem? Who is in your Judea? Your Samaria?
- How are you mobilizing apostolic leaders?
- How are you sending ministry teams?
- How are you crossing cultural barriers?
- How are you multiplying disciples, groups, and churches?
- How are you starting new movements?
For more thoughts on multiplying movements, check out my latest book The Missional Journey.