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    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Exponential: Starting A Reproducing Missional Movement

    A friend and I just read through Exponential by Dave and Jon Ferguson together. My friend admitted that Dave and Jon are his favorite Pastors in the United States and I admit I am a fan as well. This book hit me hard on a ton of levels and spoke deeply to convictions I was forming about church and growth.

    The subtitle speaks for the content of the whole book because it really is a book about: "How you and your friends can start a Missional Church Movement." These brothers share their journey of the church and now movement that God has used them to catalyze and grow.

    They candidly share their dreaming phase on up to the now very exponential movement that God blessed them to be a part of. Many things really struck me, challenged me and inspired me in this book. I hope to divulge as much as I can in the post so you too can be blessed by what I have learned through these guys!

    The idea of the book is to be a leader who reproduces exponentially, not only yourself but also the church and movements you catalyze. They believe strongly in us young pastors asserting that we can do it. They begin by giving 5 reproducing principles:

    1. Reproducing requires everyone to have an apprentice
    • You can't be a one man show!  People can learn from you.

    2. Reproducing is proactive, not reactive
    • Don't be waiting to respond to something, go make something happen!

    3. Reproducing is not about size; it’s about leader readiness
    • Churches can get bogged down by playing the numbers game...don't!

    4. Reproducing isn’t about our kingdom; it’s about God’s Kingdom
    • When leaders you've produced leave to do something for God...don't hold them back, give them back to God!

    5. Reproducing happens on the edge and at the center

    They then go through how a guy named Troy McMahon stepped in as an apprentice and moved through the whole reproduction of a leader process: Individual-->Apprentice-->Leader-->Coach-->Director-->Campus Pastor/Church Planter-->Network Leader. They show how this is the best way to grow a person, use them fully and travel with them as they grow and gain more skills.

    I was struck by their simple but effective formula. What is even cooler is that they began this formula from the onset, so now it is in their DNA and is a natural outflow of everything they do. If I were to plant a church, this would be a formula I too would infuse into the church I was planting. Too many times people go into church planting or into an already established church and think about “maintenance” rather than “reproduction”; which is odd because Jesus never said: “But you will receive power with the Holy Spirit comes on you to maintain my church and never grow.” He said: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8 ESV) That sounds like reproduction to me.

    The next thing that struck me deeply was their HUGE emphasis on apprenticeship. They outline how Jesus had apprentices, so we too must have apprentices. My fear is (as it is with the Fergusons) that pastors in the US are afraid to have apprentices because they don’t want to be overshadowed or maybe they don’t want to be “found out”. It’s a sad reality but true.

    Two quotes that hit me every time I read them are: “Being an apprentice of Jesus means learning to dream BIG” (Ferguson 2010, p. 46) and: “What is your God-sized dream?” (Ferguson 2010, p. 49) I know God is birthing in me a dream and I’ve written it down (which I did before but the book in the end challenges the reader to write it out)! This book forced me to continue thinking about the dream God has inside me and it continually encouraged me that through the power of God I can indeed achieve my dream.

    Another thing that popped for me was the 2-2-2 principle that they laid out. It stems from 2 Timothy 2:2 and is core to reproducing. It is such a core because it lays down the relationships a leader must have: followers, an apprentice, peers and a coach. I love this biblical principle and even wrote a Youth Specialties article about the peer part here “Finding Your Jonathan”.

    This principle is so true though! If one of those key relationships is not a part of a leaders life he/she won’t be able to reproduce! So many pastors are “do it yourselfers” and it just doesn’t work. It re-challenged me to find all of these relationships for myself. I am a Youth pastor on a team of 5 youth pastors in a large church…sometimes I feel like I don’t have much of a voice in things. I get discouraged because I desire to apply some of this amazing change to my church yet I can’t because of where I am. I’m young and low on the pole…but that doesn’t mean I can’t start making myself a better leader now so that if that ever changes I can be ready to be the head leader He desires me to be.

    Whether you are a senior pastor, youth pastor or church plant dreamer this book and the tools it has can help you…right where you are. Even if you can’t immediately implement these tools in your context you can apply the leadership tools to your life!

    Another great insight in the book is the idea of reproducing artists (Chapter 5). Artists are key to church growth and reproduction and sadly many churches have failed to love them and use them they way they should be loved and used. I really enjoyed the whole chapter and thought it’s a needed discussion. My favorite (and most controversial) part was the “Let Pagans Play” portion, which is about how we should let non Christians play in the worship band. It’s a challenging thought that goes against the grain of many mainstream churches yet it is a gesture to artists demonstrating how vital the church thinks they are! This chapter helped me see how I can love on and embrace artists where I am (as the Middle School Pastor). I can reach out to them now, seek them now and use them now!

    More and more stuff popped in the book for me and inspired me (especially the multi-site stuff because I hope my church goes multi-site), but is far ahead from where I am. I know one day I will look back at those chapters and use them but today I am in a place where I can be excited and implement the stuff above TODAY.

    Life has me in a new cross road where I am thinking holistically about the church rather than just in my own frame of Youth Ministry. Reading books like this encourage and inspire me to dream of a new and brighter future for the whole church. Generating young leaders who are thinking holistically and exponentially rather than stagnantly and stuck inside their own modes of thinking.

    I hope to be used by God to be in or start a reproducing movement. There is a passion and a fire growing and the more books like this I read the more it burns!

    Thanks Fergusons!


    Sher Sheets said...

    This is a great review! Thanks Marv for taking the time!!