Be Fruitful and Multiply

Charles Kiser —  September 15, 2008 — 9 Comments

Starting a new church is certainly full of challenge and struggle. In the words of Earl Creps: “Church planting is the art of surviving disappointment.” I’ve lived that statement on more than one occasion.

At the same time, new churches also provide times of intense joy and excitement. Just as we marveled when Ryan was born, so we find ourselves marveling at the way God is bringing Storyline to life.

Most recently we’ve been excited to anticipate and plan for our first house church multiplication. It’s been our dream from the beginning that Storyline would develop into a network of house churches: the first house church would start another, those would start others, and those would start others and so on.

Healthy things reproduce. Healthy plants bear seed that produce new plants. Healthy animals give birth to new animals. Healthy humans conceive new children. It’s the same in the kingdom of God – healthy disciples help to make new disciples and healthy churches start new churches.

Our first house church gathering has started to gain some traction in our community. New relationships have been formed. Unchurched and dechurched friends have started participating in the life of our church. New leaders are stepping up to the plate. This little community is already embodying in significant ways our values for dependence on God, mission, life change and genuine relationships.

So within the next few weeks we’ll branch out and start the second house church. We’ll have a special gathering where we reminisce about how God has been at work, commission the next generation of house church leaders and discern which house church God is calling each person to join in the future.

We’re also excited that later this fall we’ll start a monthly worship gathering that will draw our house churches together for times of worship, storytelling and vision casting. Larger worship gatherings will help to create a sense of synergy among house churches by helping them see that they are part of something bigger than themselves. These gatherings will also give us an opportunity for broader exposure in the surrounding communities of Uptown, Downtown and Oak Lawn.

We do not, however, envision that these larger worship gatherings will occur more than monthly, at least in the early stages of the church’s life. This is a strategic decision because to us the majority of church life and mission takes place in the context of smaller communities of faith. We don’t want our limited people resources to be wrapped up in planning for weekly worship gatherings such that we neglect to put most of our energies into developing house church life and mission.

Rejoice with us for the way God is at work in our midst. Pray for us as we seek to do the hard but rewarding work of multiplying.

Charles Kiser

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Dallas, TX. Church Planter with Storyline Christian Community. Equipper and Coach with Mission Alive.

9 responses to Be Fruitful and Multiply

  1. 

    That’s great news! We have recently undergone a multiplication of our own at CJ. I remember the first couple times our groups multiplied. It was hard to see it for what it was, the advancement of His Kingdom. The first thought was what we would be losing. We would lose our group that was just growing close and we would have to figure out how to schedule in our new time and go through the process of “growing together” that can take some time and effort.

    It’s funny how when we concentrate on what we do or don’t get out of certain things in life, we tend to miss the ways in which God is working right before our eyes.

    It’s easy for me to recognize that as I look back, it’s more difficult to remember that when I need to the most.

    Your community of faith and the community it serves are in our thoughts and prayers. What an exciting time!

    PS. You can expect the Elder family at one of your monthly gatherings before years end.

  2. 

    Awesome, Awesome! We can’t wait to be a part of one of your monthly gatherings…count us in! Maybe we can come the same week the Elder’s do….Love ya’ll!

  3. 

    It brings me great, great joy to read this post.

  4. 

    Wonderful news. Prayers continue. . .

  5. 

    My the grace and might of God continue to bless your efforts in Him.

    Question: How is the multiplication determined? Is it by numbers? (example: OK, we have 10 people here now, time to start another…)

  6. 

    Good question, Jr.

    Numbers is part of the determination. You sacrifice relationships if the house church size gets too big. So when the group grows to about 20 people regularly, we have one indicator of readiness.

    The other (larger) part is purpose: is the house church embodying the values of the kingdom? The particular manifestation of those values in the Storyline community is dependence on God, mission, life change and genuine relationships.

    To translate those values into questions:
    1) Are people growing in their relationships with God? (dependence)
    2) Is the community serving, loving and participating in the work of justice? (mission)
    3) Are non-Christians becoming Christians in the house church, or at least joining the life of the group to explore further? (mission)
    4) Are people being spiritually formed? Is transformation occurring? (life change)
    5) Are people experiencing deep relationships with other people in the house church? (genuine relationships)

    These questions are much harder to quantify than numbers alone, but they are the right questions, I believe. Essentially we’re changing the scorecard when we add questions like the above–to win is no longer to grow bigger (necessarily) but to embody the life of the kingdom.

    If answers to these questions are no, then a house church is not ready to multiply. It may be big enough, but it is not embodying the life of the kingdom. It begs the question: what is attracting people to this house church if it’s not the kingdom of God? Such a scenario might require that the house church disband and roll into other more healthy house churches.

  7. 

    Hi Charles,

    This was my first visit to your blog (Scott Lambert put me onto it). I perused over some of your past posts — good stuff. I’m currently preaching a series I’m calling “Jesus for President” (original, huh?) that is about faith & politics. We’re reading the same stuff.

    May God bless your ministry and family.

    In Christ,

    Andy Wall (Ben’s brother, Jon Reed’s friend)

  8. 

    Charles, it is great to hear about you multiplying. And yes, weekly worship takes up a lot of resources. I’m glad that you guys are remaining focused on mission!

  9. 

    crkiser,
    interesting you should post his too…
    something that lead me to these thoughts last week was that i was at one of those days when i needed to “go to the well”. one of the places i go to remind me of who i am and who He is is john 15. as i thought about fruitfulness and how i could be more fruitful… so the first 17 verses were just supposed to remind me that i can do nothing appart from him. but i got something else as i was quickly perusing through 1-4 till i got to the real verse, you know, #5.

    1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

    verse five is pure gold.
    but what got me on this umpteenth time of praying and reading this that i can do nothing to do nothing. there’s nothing i can do to “do nothing”. what God required of me is to acknowledgement of my connectedness to Him. for me to draw my life from Him. if that flows through me… it doesn’t matter where i’m at or what i’m doing ministry wise, setting, congregation, or whatever.
    what matters about fruitfulness is the connection to the vine. not even the correct process or training can bare fruit. only our connection to Him will bring fruit. a free connection, not earned by even timing, process, or numbers.
    He uses us … love to the brokenhearted, hope to the hopeless, even food for the hungry. that’s not fruit we produce, that fruit His life brings.

    anyways… that’s my well, and you may think my well is full of it… but i still love you bro…
    may God’s love flow through you guys, and His life in you produce fruit of relationships and friendships that see the Gardners beautiful vine. may their lives crave the vine life as they taste what God is producing in you and through you.

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