Movements = Growth
“Startup=Growth,” by Paul Graham, is an excellent examination of the growth orientation of startups. Graham is a venture capitalist and a partner of Y-Combinator, one of the premiere startup investors.
Church planting movements (CPM,DMM), like startups, are also designed to grow–and not just to grow, but to grow fast.
Being a church plant does not make you a church planting movement. To be a “disciple making movement” means that you are “making disciples” and you are a “movement” – and a movement grows fast, so the number of disciples made should likewise grow fast.
Those who want to see a massive movements to Christ must, like startups, understand and commit to this basic point: whenever a choice is to be made, movements must make the choice that tends toward sustained rapid growth in disciples made.
Many churches get started every year. A very small fraction intend to be DMMs.
Some are what I term “parish churches” – churches that have as their outlook all of the people within the geographic region they are planted in. Most, by far, are “service churches” – churches designed from the outset to serve the members who attend. They are, in effect, clubs.
“Service churches” aim for growth mostly through audience participation. They exist to care for their members. They are hard for new people to “break into,” and rarely care much about seeking out new members. Their primary form of growth is demographic (but in most service churches, such growth is usually rare; young people often leave, especially when they go off to college).
“Parish churches” aim for growth partially in audience participation, but are oriented more outward toward the people of their area. They aim for growth both through demography (keeping young people involved) and through conversion. Most megachurches lean toward the Parish Church idea.
However, the brutal truth is that both a service church (more) and a parish church (less) tend to think about the individual instance of the congregation as “church” rather than the “Church” in an area.
While Parish Churches might “lean” in some ways toward ideas that seem amenable to DMM (small groups, for example), in most instances thinking about the individual instance of the congregation vs the totality of the area as 100% Christian can effectively neutralize any DMM possibility, because the Parish Church is thinking about growth to the maximum of its existing capacity to serve.
A DMM, on the other hand, is designed as a Catalyst to see the “Church” (big-C) scale to “all” of an area. Whereas service and parish churches have size maximums (governed by budgets and buildings), a DMM intentionally makes choices that are unrestricted by size. A DMM seeks doubling.
Service and Parish churches aren’t bad. But they are not movements. A DMM must (a) offer discipleship (b) to all the people (c) successfully.
As Roy Moran articulated in this Think Tank, what would happen if everyone in your city decided one Sunday morning to come to your church? For everyone in the city to be discipled, different decisions have to be made. Movements make those decisions.
If you’re going to build a movement, you have to commit to growth that rapidly surpasses you. This requires a lot of assumptions and decisions that are different from a local church.