There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving, and I will multiply my people and make of them a great and honored nation. (Jeremiah 30:19) 

We all know that the words of Jeremiah came true a few hundred years later. Why, because God said it would! It has always been God’s plan for His people to multiply and reproduce. For the last 20 plus years, I have been directly and indirectly involved in Church Planting. I have been exposed to a variety of concepts and ideas; some have proven successful, some have not. After much prayer, God through His Word gave me the concept of “multi-site church planting.” I also read where God had used other churches with similar approaches of multiplication and reproduction to build His Kingdom.

It has always been God’s plan for us to reproduce ourselves, and certainly, it is His plan for His church to reproduce itself. God gives us the successful model of reproduction in Genesis 1:11 when He says, “The seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.”  Notice the words “from which they came.” All plants and trees reproduce successfully because God has created within them the kind of DNA to ensure proper growth and reproduction of their particular kind of fruit.  This DNA also ensures successful reproduction of that same plant or tree. It is obvious from nature His plan works. This plan for plants and trees is the same plan He has for His church.

Jesus said in John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last…” Again and again, Jesus talks about producing fruit that will last, and He even goes to the extreme and says if we are producing bad fruit, we must cut it off and burn it. (John 15:2) That’s how serious God is about reproducing a lasting product!

The question must be asked,“What are we producing and reproducing?”

In the context of the local church, the Bible is clear that we are to produce committed men and women who serve God. Their lives are to show (bear fruit) that they belong to God and are a product of His grace.  What about the “church at large?” If we as individuals are to produce lasting fruit, then shouldn’t the church reproduce lasting fruit? Of course! The church should reproduce itself to ensure proper growth and production of more Christians, which in turn will produce more churches.

In our attempt to do this, it is my opinion that we have left out one valuable principle: seeds…from which they came. This speaks of healthy DNA that will ensure health and growth. The problem in our church reproduction schemes is that we begin with a seed, and then let the seed develop on its own.  Unfortunately, too many statistics tell us that this results in more failures than successes. The seed doesn’t last! After all the efforts of church planting by the Assemblies of God, the results for 2015 were 326 churches opened, and 278 churches closed, resulting in a net gain of just 48 churches for the entire year. Those churches that survived are doing just that, “struggling to survive.” Seeds of people and money may be sown, but some of the most important parts of the DNA are lost, such as core values, the dynamics of worship, the ongoing teaching and reaching activities, the close fellowship and accountability checks and balances that must accompany any successful endeavor, the ongoing leadership development that will guide the church to accomplish its mission. Financial resources are used up and wise leadership isn’t assisting in major decisions. What we have done is thrown some seeds on the ground, watered it with a few people and sometimes thousands of dollars, and walked away expecting it to grow and reproduce itself. It just doesn’t work!

God’s plan is for the healthy churches to reproduce healthy churches.

In the last ten years, God has taught me there must be an ongoing relationship and connection with the healthy church. The Bible clearly teaches how the churches at Jerusalem and Antioch were in a constant relationship. They were constantly connected with Peter and Paul as they struggled in church issues, praying with them for open doors, and assisting them spiritually and financially. The reason the early church was so successful, to the point that we today can enjoy the fruitfulness of its labors, is because it stayed connected to a healthy church.

I am convinced the Biblical pattern for the local church that is healthy and producing fruit is to reproduce itself in multiple locations. The church world has been slow in catching on to God’s model for reproduction. The business world caught on to this way of reproducing successful businesses years ago; they call it “franchising.” Wal-Mart and Walgreen are examples of reproducing successful models of business. I call it “Multi-Site Campuses.”

This Biblical concept means that we utilize our staff, our people, our resources, and our DNA to duplicate ourselves over and over again.  That means looking beyond the moment and leading with tomorrow and the future in mind. There is no success without sacrifice. Any leader who wants to see the church succeed in its mission must be willing to pay the price to ensure lasting success.  The larger the organization, the larger and deeper the team of leaders needs to be. My prayer is that we will look beyond today and see the possibilities for tomorrow, and develop potential leaders to place a campus in multiple locations.

Written by Jerry Harris, Church Planting Director