Church Multiplication Skunkworks

I’m writing on a flight home from Exponential West—a conference for leaders targeting church multiplication. This piece is a response to a question I was repeatedly asked as I taught… “How can I plant churches if our church members resist it?”

The answer is as simple as partitioning your hard drive. I first did it on a Mac. Out of the box, it ran only Apple software. After partitioning the hard drive it ran MS Windows from a small slice of the drive. One OS operated Apple products while the other handled Windows applications. And, they ran concurrently. Data files stored on the Apple side, but were available cross-platform.

Think Skunkworks

See the part of the hard drive as a “skunk-works.” The term was invented by Kelly Johnson, an engineer at Lockheed who separated a group of engineers and designers to create the first American jet fighter. They completed the project from conception to the first test flight in 143 days. The formal contract arrived just three weeks before the project was finished–but long after it started. This was a handshake deal.

The secrets to a skunk works are many, but one thing stands out. That is the ability to partition a small group of people from the larger crowd. Johnson did this. Steve Jobs did it when they built the first Mac. Jesus did it with the twelve and did it on steroids with Peter, James and John.

So how does this apply to a wannabe church multiplier?

First Assumption:

You need to know that it is easier to obtain forgiveness than permission.

After that you setup a tiny OS (so small that you hide it in plain sight). Fearful members seldom notice a pastor discipling two or three people—especially if they are those pesky people who always seem to question everything about a smooth-running church. You’ll hear, “Finally, the pastor seems to make headway with those troublemakers!”

Second Assumption:

Those who question traditional methods are prophetic, apostolic or pastors with no clear pathway toward gift fulfillment they are essential to church multiplication.

Some of our best church planters first surfaced as pain in the you-know-where mavericks. Pulling them together gets them out of other people’s hair. It also let’s you probe what drives them. And, you can disciple their frustration toward productivity. They might be the bivocational church planters who can help you move into church multiplication. A tendency to swim against the tide is a sign if potential leadership. If church is to be countercultural and revolutionary, these people are valuable assets.

So, partition your church’s collective hard drive. Operate the traditional system, business- as-usual. On your second OS, shoot for the moon. Dream big! Ask God to give you one successful church plant on the way to a hundred. After you achieve measurable success, go brag to your elders about how their vision for the world produced a new church.

Assumption Three:

Every church elder body has vision for the world, even though they often can’t see church multiplication opportunity three miles away.

Try this and your church and it’s normal OS become the platform where you hang the second, church multiplication operating system. And they can run concurrently and happily. BTW, you can share data across both platforms. In our setup, both the conventional leaders and the fanatics read the same books. It’s only the discussions that differ.

Assumption Four:

Your first planter should be bivocational, start small and with little or no budget.

We’re back to Kelly Johnson and Jesus. Money plays too big a role in church decisions. Johnson’s team had to scrounge parts and time in machine shops to build their prototype. Jesus said take no purses. Remove money and marketing and planting a microchurch (poised to multiply) is almost failsafe. For more on this click on the Tag Cloud on the bottom right margin of this page (below the free books).

Does this work for you? Let us know via the COMMENT SECTION below…