Church Planting Mathematics: 10 x 100 > 1 x 1000?

There are quite a number of benefits of planting 10 church plants that will reach 100+ throughout a geographical region.

Several years ago, one of my mentors noted that it may, in fact, be more advantageous for a church or Presbytery to call godly and faithful men to plant 10 churches that will each reach 100+ members in any given geographical area than it would be to call one extraordinarily gifted individual to plant 1 church that would reach 1000+ more or less committed church members. 10 x 100 > 1 x 1000? Really? How in the world would one ever come to such a conclusion?

 

I’m not shy about the fact that math is not my strong suit. I barely made it through algebra 1 in the formative years of my education. However, I have an important mathematical equation that may be of help to the church planting movement. Several years ago, one of my mentors noted that it may, in fact, be more advantageous for a church or Presbytery to call godly and faithful men to plant 10 churches that will each reach 100+ members in any given geographical area than it would be to call one extraordinarily gifted individual to plant 1 church that would reach 1000+ more or less committed church members. 10 x 100 > 1 x 1000? Really? How in the world would one ever come to such a conclusion? Let me explain.

Most of us have probably thought, at some time or another, that it would be better to seek out and call an extraordinarily gifted man who will be able to plant a large, fast growing church in a metropolis than it would be to call a man with ordinary gifts to plant in a rural setting. There are, however, only so many men who have the unique gift set and/or the resources and situational dynamic necessary to plant a 1000+ member church–even in a city. There are, however, many godly and faithful men with ministerial gifts who are ready and able to use them to advance the kingdom of God by planting smaller, but healthy and steadily growing churches. The advantage of calling a man to plant a church that will reach 1000+ is that there will be, in turn, many more resources for ministry both inside the church as well as potential for more widespread Gospel outreach and influence in the community. However, there are quite a number of benefits of planting 10 church plants that will reach 100+ throughout a geographical region. Here are 4 such benefits that can be gained by adopting this approach:

1. It nurtures qualified governance. I have never been one of those who has dogmatically argued that a smaller church is better than a large church. As I noted above, a larger congregation has the people, resources and ability to have a massive impact on the lives of those within the church as well as in the community. Additionally, smaller churches often depend on larger congregations for financial support and resources. That being said, it is much more likely that a church planter will be able to train two or three ruling (lay) elders to become theologically and spiritually mature shepherds of a congregation of 100+ than it is that a church planter will pour into the lives of 20-30 men in order to gain qualified and eager ruling elders for a congregation of 1000+. Having planted a church, I have experienced this first hand. Cutting corners may get you a board of directors, or company with church CEOs, but laboring to train men who will lay down their lives for the sheep is an altogether different matter. Planting 10 churches in a geographical region may better help foster the training and electing of qualified elders and deacons.

2. It limits unhealthy growth and fallout. “It’s hard to derail a slow moving train.” This is something that the mentor I mentioned above constantly reminded me of during the seemingly slow and more trying times in church planting.

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