"You can't plant churches any more."

You might expect that statement from a persecutor.
In this particular case, it was a ministry leader speaking to a large number of church planters.

A key movement trainer frequently tells this story; I heard it again just today.
The problem: many churches were being planted – but not enough.
Continuing to plant churches one-by-one meant not reaching the current generation (or, really, future generations). Multiplication was required.
So, the leadership of the ministry told the church planters in their network: “You can’t plant churches any more.”
“You have to help your people – the ones in the churches you have started – to go out and start new groups themselves.”
About half of the leaders in this particular network ended up saying – “No. We plant churches. That’s what we’re called to do.” They left.
The ones that remained began working on the task, and today there is a vast, multiplying movement as a result.
The question articulated is “not what I can do” but “what needs to be done.” As evidenced by the situation, it’s a challenging question to answer. Not everyone will say “yes” to the vision. It’s not always what God has called them to. But sometimes–perhaps often–the hard task of stopping something, and helping someone else do what we have done, and perhaps do it better – for them to increase, and us to decrease – is the challenge we must meet.


  1. Jens Bernhard says:

    Instead of an either or approach, why not both? Lead by example and take an apprentice with you while multiplying fellowships? Did Paul stop doing what he was doing? No, he took others with him, he multiplied himself and he continued ‘planting churches’.
    The rub comes when Westerners tell locals what to do (“Don’t plant churches.”) Because the Westerner can not plant churches, as Strategy coordinators rarely do. Now there are a bunch of outsiders telling others what they themselves can not do. But the multiplication vision is great, nothing against it. Then why do we constantly operate out of fear mindset or a “can not do” mindset? Like: “I fear losing control therefore I don’t let others multiply.” or “I think it is impossible or a waste of time for me to do the planting so I only operate through the local church.”
    We just don’t have a NT model for leading without example. Nowadays it is so bad that hardly anyone who is a “missionary” is operating outside the local church. Which missionary is able to hold a spiritual conversation with a Hindu or a Muslim or a Buddhist without the others getting lost in translation? Why limit ourselves?

    • Justin Long says:

      Just a side note. The leader was a local not a westerner. This was entirely e-3. We don’t believe in the westerner telling the local what to do, ever. 🙂

Comments are closed.