It’s now been 21 years since my last formal education experience. When I graduated from Northwest Bible College (now Vanguard College) and started my first ministry assignment, I remember thinking that my learning was now complete. That thought could not have been further from the truth! I’m grateful today that I’ve learned new things in every season of life and ministry. Life-long learning is something I want to always be striving for, and I think you do too.
Since I started this role as the national Church Multiplication Co-ordinator in October 2017, my learning curve has seemed less like a curve and more like a right angle. I hit the road early and often finding my way across Canada, meeting incredible leaders and seeing churches who are having a great impact on their communities. District Superintendents have also given me opportunities to join their leadership team meetings so I could hear their ideas and strategies for church multiplication. After meeting with district leadership, pastors, planters and future multipliers, some similar needs seemed to present themselves right across Canada.
Here are the three biggest needs for church multiplication in the PAOC as I have observed since I have started this new role. This list is not exhaustive nor is it going to surprise anyone with concepts they have never heard before. Nonetheless, we need them back on our radar screens and hopefully we can stay reminded of what we need to be building together.
The first and most pressing thing is the need for what I would like to call a “Leadership Pipeline.” We can have money, locations, technology, and buildings, but if we don’t have leaders, then obviously, we don’t have a church. In March 2017 our Fellowship stats showed us that 65% of our credential holders are over the age of 50. This is a troubling stat, because we will be seeing significant increases in retirements in the next decade or so, but we won’t have enough leaders to fill those existing churches. This also creates complexity when it comes to starting new disciple-making communities. This is something we all need to be working on together. I’m very thankful for the good work and leaders that our Bible colleges are producing, but by themselves, they won’t be able to train enough leaders to meet the need. So first of all, we need to get intentional about raising up leaders for ministry in our local churches.
Secondly, we need to be looking at leaders who have shown aptitude for leadership but who may not have had formal pastoral training. Perhaps we should also consider second-career people who have had an early retirement or find leaders who can pastor bi-vocationally.
Thirdly, we must find new and creative ways to train these leaders to pastor and plant churches. We need be thinking about this more as a Fellowship and start implementing new ways to expand our Leadership Pipeline.
I think many of us would agree that healthy churches should multiply. We are seeing churches across Canada pioneer successful multiplication efforts from their local assemblies. Whether it is by starting a campus, satellite or an entrepreneurial plant, multi-sites are making an impact in many new communities. Other churches in our PAOC family are taking strong steps to get healthy enough to multiply in the future, and those efforts are worth celebrating as well. While we have new church plants to cheer on, if we are serious about reaching Canada we need a much higher participation rate from our close to 1,100 self-governing churches. Unfortunately, we don’t have stats yet on how many churches have engaged in church multiplication throughout our Fellowship, but I can safely say that the majority of our churches have not started a new disciple-making community in the last 10 years. Our General Superintendent and the General Executive Committee have called our PAOC family to be a multiplying movement again. We need our pastors, leaders and churches to catch the heartbeat of church multiplication to see our nation reached. There is a courageous call in front of us to plant, partner or provide for church multiplication in Canada and every church is encouraged to participate!
Systems and Processes
As I have spent some time with national leaders of networks, denominations and thinktanks, the recurring theme of having the right systems and processes in place seems to be like a record on repeat. Mechanisms like recruitment, assessment, training, coaching and fundraising are crucial to the success of our becoming a church multiplication movement. We are thankful for partner networks like C2C, New Leaf Network and ARC (Association of Related Churches) that help with some of these much-needed systems. They have been gracious in sharing their learning and resources. But there has been a call among our PAOC leaders to have some systems in place nationally that can augment what the districts are providing. Identifying what those systems are will be important next steps that will happen in consultation with our districts.
We have felt a strong call to launch our very own PAOC church multiplication engine called the Multiply Network, and so we did just that at General Conference in May. Our goal again is two-fold. Firstly, we desire to invigorate the PAOC to be a multiplying movement again through championing church multiplication throughout our Fellowship. Secondly, we aspire to take the guesswork out of multiplication for our PAOC leaders and churches. We want to come alongside the dreams and passions of our leaders and churches as it relates to starting new disciple-making communities.
These three things are on the forefront of our thinking and we need your help. If you have any thoughts about any of these areas or if you have questions about the Multiply Network, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are better together!
Church Multiplication Co-ordinator