Archives For Reproduction

Sending vs. Multiplying

Charles Kiser —  October 6, 2008 — 6 Comments

We experienced our first house church sending ceremony last night. It was wonderful. Thanks to all of you who are praying for Storyline in this significant transition.

The basic movement of our gathering was: 1) celebrate God’s work in the first house church; 2) reflect on the way God calls the church to be a sending body; and 3) pray and anoint leaders to go and start a new house church.

The foundational text for our gathering was Acts 12:25–13:3:

When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark. Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

In the same way Jesus sent out his disciples, in the same way the early church followed God’s leading to send teams out in mission, we sought to send some out. Our house church commissioned Julie and I and the Cones to start a new house church.

The sending of the Twelve by Duccio di Buoninsegna

The Sending of the Twelve by Duccio di Buoninsegna (14th Century)

The approach we took was decidedly different than the traditional small group multiplication model where the group splits in half and goes in two different directions.

Our model—influenced by the insights of Jared Looney, Kent Smith and John White at the Abilene Summit just a couple weeks ago—looks more like the traditional church planting model: a church sends out a team of church planters to plant a new church.

Such an approach preserves the fabric of community in the sending house church and sends those who are called by God to go.

I have not had stellar experiences with the multiplication approach in the few times I’ve tried it. People are resistant and even resentful when they’re asked to abandon relationships they had come to cherish.

John White mentioned that in his experiences, after the third or fourth round of multiplication, participants refused to invite new people to their gatherings because they were so exhausted by constantly investing themselves in new people (only to be dragged away from them later).

The sending approach seems like a much healthier alternative and was affirmed by coaches, mentors and Storyline participants. Many of our Storyline people told us in one way or another: “I feel good about this.”

That kind of feedback is important. Sending shouldn’t be ominous, painful or scary. It should be inspiring, exciting and invigorating—because it is!

I think it is significant, too, the way this experience points to our value for adaptability. We were expecting up until just a couple weeks ago that we would be facilitating a multiplication ceremony and not a sending ceremony.

But after listening to Looney, Smith and White in Abilene (all of whom are experimenting in mission in ways similar to us) — the one class I attended while I was there, by the way — I began to sense God was leading us to do something different. So we processed, discerned and adjusted accordingly. God has his ways of getting our attention.

So, starting next Sunday, the Kisers and the Cones will begin to gather with new friends in hopes that God will bring another church to life in the midst of them.

God has done it before. He will do it again…

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.