WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
When I grow up, I want to be Ralph Moore.
A few years ago, Exponential gathered the heads of the biggest church planting networks and denominations to discuss the current crisis of the American church as reflected in two independent studies conducted on church growth. 80% of churches in America are plateaued or in decline. Out of the 20% left, only 7% grew by planting new congregations to carry the torch into the future. Do the math and 93% of the church is no longer reproducing itself. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that the church in America is in trouble. The youth have already leaked out of the 16% of attractional churches that grow by adding numbers to the megachurch in a box. However, that’s not the most disturbing statistic. Although 4% were reproducing churches (meaning they’d planted a church or a handful of churches), they could only locate one example of a church operating at an exponential Level 5 Multiplication. Exponential multiplication is planting churches into the fourth generation, meaning you plant a church that plants a church, that plants a church, that plants a church. Jerusalem qualified as a multiplier, just as Antioch, Ephesus, and Rome eventually would in the 1st century. In 40 years, the early church turned the world upside down, so why does the number of multiplying churches register at 1?
In order to have kingdom expansion on the level of the first century, you need multiplying churches, but to have those, you need multiplying leaders. That’s where the whole thing bottlenecks. The solution to the problem facing the Western Church was to identify Level 5 Multiplying Leaders in order to observe what they did, and pass down that knowledge to the next generation.
A multiplying church hits level 5 when the multiplication kicks into exponential high gear to the fourth generation. In other words, your church plants churches that plant churches that plant churches. The problem was that when the Exponential team sent out scouts to locate as many level 5 churches they could, they returned empty handed. They then the lowered their expectations to finding only 25 Level 5 multiplying leaders. When that turned out to be a fruitless endeavor, they searched for 10. After not being able to locate even 5 level 5 multipliers after scouring American churches, they found only one. His name was Ralph Moore, and he’d planted a number of churches from California to Hawaii over a long, and fruitful ministry. So far, after discipling three leaders at a time for over 50 years, the current tally of church plants going back to Ralph is 2730 churches at the time of writing. The number continues to increase.
The most shocking thing was not how many churches Ralph multiplied, but that in the entire US, there was only one contender. Our model of church structure doesn’t allow for the development of level 5 leaders. For all the leadership development cool-aide pastors are drinking as they read book after book, they’re missing the tang that made the 1st century church planters astronauts. For somebody who is devoted to the advancement church next part is hard to say, but for someone devoted to the preservation of the status quo, even harder to hear. Today’s model of church aims at building upward, whereas the 1st century church was wired to expand outward. As form follows function, today’s leaders graduate seminary proficient in discoursing upon what the Apostles did thousands of years ago as chronicled in the pages of Acts, but are unable to do nearly any of it.
Picture your life years from now. What do you want it to look like? Julian of Norwich? Paul the apostle? Ralph Moore? There is no right or wrong answer, but the little activities of discipling people every day is what made Ralph Moore who he is. Praying every day is what made Julian of Norwich who she was. What about you? What do you want to be when you look back and know that you’ve run your race? Join us later for a time of live coaching from Ralph Moore. Poke him, prod him, ask him whatever you want. That’s what he’s here for, and the opportunity to walk and talk with a living legend doesn’t grow on trees!
Head on over to classroom one to join us.