In Episode 3 of Practical Multiplication: A Pastor’s Guide to Accelerating Multiplication, Ralph Moore and Zac Nazarian reflected on their friendship while Myron Pierce helps younger leaders unpack the wisdom of experienced church planters.
“My wife left me on Valentines day, which was a Saturday,” said Zac Nazarian, “and the next morning I was banging on the front doors of that church to get in.”
Now nearly four decades later, Zac Nazarian is faithfully pastoring that same church — Hope Chapel.
The Birth of A Movement
One Sunday, Moore shared that he believed God was going to give Hope Chapel a local abandoned bowling alley, for free, as their new church home. When Nazarian heard this he laughed himself silly.
“That idea seemed so absurd to me that I left church with no intention of coming back,” laughed Nazarian. Months later, as he drove past that same abandoned bowling alley and saw the words “God is coming” on the marquee out front, Nazarian says he finally understood the power of prayer.
Once Moore had decided to move to Hawaii to continue church planting, he already had his sights on Nazarian to replace him as the senior pastor at Hope Chapel.
Moore instilled the mindset to “give away our very best” early on as he mentored Nazarian. Since then, Nazarian has sent out countless men to plant churches and has no plans of slowing down.
The Importance of Staying Connected
Hope Church is responsible for over 2,300 church plants around the world. Unfortunately, many of the church plants weren’t staying connected due to a desire for control from the denomination.
“When I first got connected with Exponential, I had to conduct a survey just to find out how many Hope Chapel churches existed,” explained Moore.
The DNA of Hope Chapel has always included training up and sending out church planters, but it took a while for them to develop a network and connection strategy. Moore and Nazarian agree that not building a network early on hindered their multiplication potential.
“We had the reputation of being rebels in our denomination because Ralph always had us on the cutting edge,” reflected Nazarian.
“Many larger networks and denominations have a centralized addition focus. When there is a decentralized multiplication bent toward church planting at the local church level, there can be tension,” explained Pierce.
Moore believes that when networks let go of control and embrace the multiplication mindset, the fear of another group becoming more influential or successful diminishes and more disciples are made.
Pierce also reminds young pastors that they could learn a lot from men like Moore and Nazarian. He has seen many planters strike out on their own without support and coaching, only to realize how much they would have benefited from sitting at the feet of more experienced planters.
Lessons for Leaders
“Sometimes the most difficult people for you to work with have the potential to make the biggest impact,” said Nazarian. He has learned that even though he has been in tension with some of the men he has sent to plant churches, he still believes they can do great things. He also reminds leaders that if you don’t have a follower, you aren’t truly a leader.
“At the end of the day, accelerating multiplication is about trusting God’s sovereignty and letting go of control,” said Nazarian.
For Moore, one of the most impactful takeaways from his life in the church planting world is realizing how important communication is. Whether it is communication between local churches, sending churches and plants, or even denominations and networks, clear communication is essential in getting over our the many hurdles that church planting poses.
In addition to clear communication, Moore recognizes that church planting will have to adapt for changing cultural trends and return to a more localized level.
“We have large systems in place for multiplication, but I think the future of church planting will have to be done on a neighborhood level,” said Moore.
A self-proclaimed dinosaur, Nazarian doesn’t use email or a cell phone, yet God is still using him in mighty ways. If you have questions about his story or multiplication, visit: hopechapel.org
Watch the replay here of Episode 4 of Practical Multiplication.