I have been reading a new book called Exponential: how you and your friends can start a missional church movement by Dave and Jon Ferguson and published by Zondervan © 2010. I was intrigued with the title before I ever read the book. Since I am presently considering how to plant more churches I wondered if the Lord had anything in store for me within its pages.
Can you imagine me feelings when the first words of the first line of the first chapter were “You can do it!” Conflicted would be the best description. On one side hope popped up her head and grinned. On the other side past experience frowned and lightly shook his head. Who to believe? So I read on.
Dave and Jon were telling me how they started with four of them at a restaurant dreaming about how to reach the 8 million people of the Chicago metro area. Dave drew his plan on a napkin. It consisted of circles, circles of influence. This dream sat in the back of mind for several years. Then, with the prodding of a friend, he started to take his dream seriously. The Lord brought Acts 1:8 strongly to his mind. It reads: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (NIV). So then he decided that his dream was consistent with Jesus’ purpose and was granted the power of the Holy Spirit to do the impossible. By the help of the Holy Spirit they would “help people find their way back to God”. This became their mission statement.
They decided that the best way they could do this was to begin a church that had a high impact on the community it was in. This was to be accomplished by not only planting a church, but they wanted to plant many churches and then have a movement of reproducing churches.
The foundation of this potentially exponential reproduction was that everyone was to have an apprentice. If everyone was reproducing their ministry in someone else, then the expansion would not be limited due to a lack of leaders, artists, or helpers. There would be no lack.
All the growth necessary to build large community impacting churches is built upon the principle of this simple reproduction. Each person who had any responsibility was to have an apprentice – someone they could impart to who would either someday replace them or do the same thing somewhere else. The main thing that was to be reproduced in your apprentice was to hear God and do what he says. At this point Hope sat up straight in her chair next to me and smiled.
The rest of the book takes you on a journey through their structure for reproduction. It involved teaching everyone to ask God how they were to go into the world and find a way to help those they find find their way back to God. They taught people to go into the world and not just to only bring people to some meeting. They commissioned everyone to think about how they could start a church or small group. This led to the kind of growth which led to more churches which led to a movement of churches which led to spinning of other movements of churches. They really believe that “you can do this”!
As I tried to hear what God might be telling me through this book, I wondered. How did these guys find so many potential leaders? Did they just attract them by their personality? Did God just give them to them? Is it a matter of call alone? After all, does God really call each of us to start churches as the Fergusons state? I have a lot to think about. That is why I am tardy in getting this review posted on my blog. There is a lot to think about.