With many denominations in Canada in plateau or decline, there is an interesting discussion growing among leaders on where our greatest focus should be placed to reverse these troubling trends. Those working with revitalization approaches make good arguments for reinvigorating static churches by stressing that churches need to be healthy and growing before they can multiply. Other leaders are looking to church multiplication as a way to battle the downward drift of the church in Canada by starting new disciple-making communities in new regions, cities and townships. Both are positive steps in the right direction to turn the trend. So where do we go from here?
I believe we need to be thinking “both/and,” not “either/or.” What would it look like if revitalization and multiplication was viewed as one process instead of two? Since they are so strongly connected, I don’t think we should be viewing revitalization and multiplication as two distinct processes. I would argue that a church isn’t fully revitalized until multiplication happens in some way. It may be multiplying in number of services, sites, or by planting a new self-governing assembly, but in some way, multiplication is happening.
I think there are great benefits to seeing revitalization and multiplication as one process.
- Making one process helps keep the ultimate goal of multiplication in front of churches and leaders more prominently. This way leaders and churches know where the finish line is.
- There is no need for a hand-off to a new process when a healthy church is ready to multiply. There is no lag or disruption in ministry activities. The church just continues with their next steps in the process.
- Leaders who are more experienced in revitalization can then speak into multiplication strategies and vice versa. As part of a joint process, we can cross-pollinate our learning and experience as well.
I definitely recognize that each church will need different strategies employed depending on their current situation. Helping a church that is ready to revitalize will certainly need a different approach to one that is ready to multiply, but the goal remains the same. We must reach Canada; we must reach our world, and the local church, the body of Christ, is God’s plan!
I am so pleased to say that across our nation, both within PAOC and in other denominational circles, concerted efforts are being made to renew a missional and multiplying DNA in the church in Canada again. Great actions are being taken by passionate and practical leaders for churches who need revitalization and also for those churches ready for multiplication. Our district leadership teams are taking great initiative with both revitalization and multiplication efforts.
I’m hearing great stories of revitalization from Abundant Life Worship Centre in Slave Lake, Alberta, with Pastor Danny Brown and Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, with Pastor Vinjelu Muyaba. Both of these rural churches are making an incredible impact on their communities. There are also great stories of multiplication. Pastor Rick Boyes and Gateway Church in London, Ontario, has recently launched a multi-site at Western University, reaching out to the students there. First Assembly in Calgary, Alberta, under the leadership of Pastor Ben Johnson, helped launch a Spanish-speaking church with Pastor Elvis Trujillo, who has recently moved to Calgary from Peru. We are seeing wins in our PAOC family and I believe even more exciting days are ahead!
PAOC has a shared vision for both revitalization and multiplication. We aim to see 350,000 Canadians in our churches and have 1,500 disciple-making communities by the year 2020. God can help us! Not only can He help us, He deeply desires to do so! Wherever you are at as a leader, wherever your church is at as an assembly, the goal is to be a multiplying movement again and we need you. This is our time to lead with Spirit-empowered courage to see Canada once again become a Christian nation!