Tobin Perry wrote a great article entitled Reproduce Your Ministries Through Apprenticing New Leaders. Much of the article is about and quotes Dave Ferguson who is the pastor and co-founder (1989) of Community Christian Church in Napierville, Illinois. This was one of the first churches to move into multiple sites, launching eight new sites in the greater Chicago area and new congregation in Kansas City, New York City, Miami, and beyond.
Two things about the article grabbed my attention. First, the magniture of making “disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and being “his witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Wow, what an awesome task. Ferguson states it plainly, “The only way that can happen is through reproduction.” He “encourages pastors looking to make multiplication a part of their church culture to start on the micro-level, on a leader-by-leader basis.” He uses 2 Timothy 2:2 as an example, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
This begins through apprenticing others. How? Ferguson gives these suggestions:
- look for ministry leaders with the right ministry gifts for the role;
- look for people you can trust and with whom you can build a relationship (key ingredient is life-on-life relationship);
- each leader who is apprenticing someone also has someone coaching him/her; and
- as leaders replicate themselves, eventually the church will reproduce whole ministries…and even take the churches to new sites.
The second thing about the article that grabbed my attention were the following paragraphs:
Ferguson encourages pastors interested in multiplication to dream big. The mindset of multiplication itself will change how a leader looks at his ministry. Ferguson encourages ministry leaders to have big visions and to not be afraid of sharing those visions with their congregations. He notes the simple act of making a vision public will make it real for everyone involved. Once a leader shares a vision for multiplication, it’ll affect every decision he makes….
“We’ve been talking about what it might mean to reach a billion people,” Ferguson said. “That’s an absurdly large number. It makes you want to roll your eyes, but when that becomes the dream, it makes me ask different kinds of questions than I’d ask if I wanted to reach 10,000 people or some lower number. It makes me think about things in a different way. And it makes me pray in a different way.
“When you do that, it makes having 5,000 people in eight locations and 16 affiliates not a big deal,” he said. “And when what you’ve done isn’t a big deal, it makes you willing to take risks.”
What could happen in thirty years if just one class doubled every two years? Consider the following:
* Assumptions: each class would have/develop at least 3 leaders; would grow to 10 in enrollment and 20 in attendance in 12-18 months. In 52 years, enrollment would pass a billion; two years later attendance would pass a billion. What if some of the groups doubled sooner?
So here’s my challenge for the Sunday School: What are you going to do to reach a billion people? What are you going to do to obey our Lord in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8? Instill multiplication into your Sunday School. Begin praying for, selecting, and investing in someone as your apprentice. Begin small. Do it right. Multiply! And do it again. It can start with one class. It can start with you! Be revolutionary!