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Multiplication - the Theory is Tested

5 May, 2005 9:48 AM

Last night at LivingRoom we met to talk about how we should grow.

Since starting just over 2 years ago we've grown numerically from a group of 7 (including one child) to a group of 25 (including up to 5 children).

The dynamics have obviously changed in this time - we've gone from meeting around a table to meeting around a lounge room. We've gone from an easy to organize meal to something that requires a roster. We've gone from an intimate group where all can quite naturally find a space to be heard to one where some personality types find it more difficult to speak.

These changes are not necessarily bad - they're just different and have led us to go back to rethinking some of the founding values that we started with.

This week I went back through the notes we made when we first started meeting and was interested to discover that we'd actually named 'smallness' as a value.

Ok - it never made it into our three core values - but it was talked about a lot early on.

I shared last night a little of why we initially valued smallness and as a result named right up front that we wanted to grow by multiplication (starting new groups) rather than by growing into a large group:

These things are not impossible in a large church - and they are not guaranteed in a small one. However our theory at the time was that perhaps in a small setting these elements would be a more natural thing. It was an untested theory - but it was something we wanted to test and out of it we made a decision to be a multiplying group.

Nice theory - but is there any truth to it?

Last night we had some good discussion around this question and the general feeling was that as we've grown, these things have become more difficult. Of course as we've grown other wonderful things have happened (there is a sense of momentum, variety, freshness, diversity etc) - however there are some costs to these things also.

So the decision has been made to multiply.

I'll post at some point in the next few days about the dilemma of 'how to multiply'.



May God bless you all as you proceed, and may He give you wisdom as you do. Recently, a home group I attend as part of a larger church decided to split. While I do not doubt the Lord leading my brothers and sisters to lead and disciple others, it can feel like the break up of a family. Have you considered scheduling a periodic large group gathering?


Brad Huston » 5 May, 2005 11:36 AM

Even though I Pastor a larger church, I can truly relate to what you are speaking of in your post. We also just turned 2 years old, and we have gone from a few people sitting around a table to filling up a nice size building. While I do not have a problem with the growth, I like you, also strive to keep things feeling intimate, and that is very hard as we get larger. I look forward to hearing more about your progress and your process, because even though we have diferent make-ups, we have many of the same issues and concerns.

Robert Lyons » 5 May, 2005 12:51 PM

It's so important to recognise where you're at right now and honour both that and the journey. Mulitplication is such an advantageous way to grow. It' the plan for us in Myriad as we jounrey simliarly to the Living Room.

Saint Gaz » 5 May, 2005 3:02 PM

I have only recently become aware of the emergent church dialogue and have been browsing many of the relevant blogs to get the feel of where it's all at. I'm excited and acknowledge it's a great platform in which to step off for the development of wonderful things but over all no one seems too sure in what direction they should be heading. Well what did JC say to us? "Follow Me!"
Practically speaking the journey is an inward one - it's not looking "out there" and intellectually manipulating mechanical systems. It's a journey from our heads to our hearts. Try speaking to one another on the heart level and searching your deepest feelings and expressing these in your own words. It's like learning a new language. That's where you'll connect with the spirit and then who'll be beginning to build the church? You'll speak it into existence.
Love, Brian

Brian Sage » 5 May, 2005 3:58 PM

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