If groups only multiply in the first 4 years, then

Many involved in group multiplication have told me most groups have a limited lifespan for multiplying new groups.

If one group is going to help start another group, it usually happens in the first 1 to 2 years, with steadily decreasing odds of multiplication in years 3 and 4.

This is testable by collecting data on your groups: when was each group formed? What groups formed out of them? When? Then compare the dates.

If it is broadly true (and it is holding up true so far in big movements and small), it would leads to two theories about what we should do:

1. Allowing, endorsing, supporting, enabling, persuading early group multiplication is critical. If you make people go through a 4 year course before allowing their groups to multiply, odds are they won’t. You could be killing a movement before it even starts.

2. If the movement is stalled, going to existing people and asking them to multiply may not work at all. The emphasis should rather be on seeding brand new groups (or starting a brand new planting). You need people with an apostolic gifting to do this.

Quantity of workers is a vanity metric

There are a huge number of peoples and places that are unengaged by the Gospel.

The answer is often cited as “Pray for workers for the harvest.” And this is right – we should pray this prayer. We are commanded to (Luke 9).

However, the idea that sending “enough workers” to take in the harvest can be a mistake. “Enough workers” is often measured as, for example, “1 worker for every church” or “1 team for every people” or “1 team for every place” or some such.

The reality is, the number of workers we can send is limited by (1) the pool of workers and the available money but also (2) by the fact that some places we can’t send workers to.

There are some places within the unreached world that we simply can’t get workers to.

We’ve heard Brother Andrew’s famous quote: “There’s no country you can get into if you don’t care about getting out.” (Or maybe this was Greg Livingstone? It’s passed into missions lore.)

In a sense, it’s true. But methodologically it’s flawed. Some places you, as an expat, cannot physically get to – you will be stopped on your way there. Some places are so dangerous that you will likely be killed. The point isn’t getting the worker in, like a game of “capture the flag.” The point is getting the Gospel there on a sustainable basis. If the worker cannot stay (or go in multiple times, perhaps), it’s pointless. Any ant can get into a house. But as soon as he’s seen, he may very well be squished.

Further, if we were to flood a lot of expatriate workers into the 10/40 Window, what would be the result? People would notice. It’s not just white Westerners, either; Koreans got in trouble with mission efforts in Afghanistan, such that governments got involved.

The answer isn’t the number of workers we send – that’s a “vanity metric,” something we measure for pride.

The answer is to send “enough workers” with a workable strategy that starts a Gospel movement in one place, and from that place seeps (via local workers) into the places the outsiders can’t get to.

Exit ramps and extinction events

Small groups and Bible studies in Western churches tend to offer easy entry and exit points.

Limited-run Bible studies (think Beth Moore studies), or 8-to-12 week study groups around a particular topic.

These kinds of things are good for what they do–but what is the long term effect?

If I don’t like the people in this group, it’s easy for me to leave them in a few weeks.

Within a few on/off cycles, I find the people who are most like me, who I click with, and then I just stick with them.

I avoid the messiness of life on life discipleship, and rarely encounter viewpoints different from mine, or things I don’t like.

The other challenge: limited-run Bible studies are less conducive to movements, because they have extinction built into their DNA.

If we want movements that scale to the whole of an area, we may have to make our groups easy to enter but harder to leave.