Multiplying Disciples and Churches (with Steve Addison)

Steve Addison is an international leader who has worked with many church planting movements across the world. He has written three books about movements and leads the MOVE mission agency, empowering the multiplication of disciples and churches. In this hangout, Steve talks about what multiplication looks like in practice and helps us build this into our ministries.


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Can You Give a Couple of Examples of Church Planting Movements Around the World?

  • In Northern India and Nepal - it is a partnership between westerners and locals, with mainly the locals taking the gospel into the villages and helping people to become disciples.
  • The role that 'missionaries' and 'mission agencies' have to play is in sparking a movement amongst locals. 
  • This has been happening for a couple of generations in places like China.

What Common Features Are There In Church Planting Movements?

  • White hot faith - This empowers ordinary people to take initiative and make things happen without waiting to be given authority - it provides energy and legitimacy to the movement.
  • High commitment to the cause - which is ultimately the cause of the gospel. In the West we can often be ashamed of the cross, and expand the gospel to include 'everything'.
  • A pattern of rapid mobilisation.
  • Contagious relationships - The gospel spreads through pre-existing networks of relationships. This is the idea of finding the person of peace.
  • Adaptive methods - simple but powerful methods (such as discovery Bible studies). Strip away other programs that are not geared to this.

What Other Examples of Movements Are There Around the World?

  • There are millions of believers in multiplying movements in Indonesia.
  • There are underground movements in Iran and amongst Iranian communities around the world.
  • Also in other Muslim countries in Sout Asia - in the last century, more Muslims have come to faith in Christ than in all human history before this point.
  • The West is lagging behind what God is doing in the world. 

Why Don't We Have Multiplying Movements In the West?

  • Many Christian leaders mirror the culture and don't have confidence in the gospel.
  • Cultural elites in the West have moved away from Christianity - and a cynicism has arisen in the church as well.
  • We need to put aside our sociology and get back to the word. Was it easy for Jesus? Was it easy for Paul?
  • What doesn't change is the power of the word of God.
  • In Acts, it seems like the word of God is a living force and the disciples are trying to keep up. The by-product of the word going out is disciples and churches.
  • Networks of relationships have broken down in the west. We are trying to win individuals, but multiplication growth travels across networks. 

How Do You Equip Churches to Bring This Into Reality?

  • The Great Commission is about making disciples and forming them into community.
  • It starts with finding people who are far from God, and having confidence that God is already at work.
  • As we step out, we will find people in whom God is already at work and making ready.
  • Do we know, and do our people know, how to start a gospel conversation? Do we know what to do if somebody wants to know more?
  • Tell stories of what God is doing in the hearts of people.

So, We Need to Get As Many People Out As We Can?

  • Yes - we are looking for receptive people through whom the mission can spread. This is the person of peace.
  • We need to provide simple training for as many people as possible. 
  • In every place, there are people who would like to be prayed for, and people who want to know more about Jesus and would like to meet again and read some stories from the Bible.
  • This isn't yet a multiplying movement - but it's a start.
  • Once these people can do the same with others, it is a multiplying movement.

What Is the Next Step After We See Somebody Saved?

  • The scriptures are always talking in terms of relationships, groups and communities - 'go home and tell everyone what God has done for you'.
  • We tend to think more in terms of individuals.
  • Right from the start, talk to people about who they could share this with. 
  • Always look to build new disciples into churches - either a new community forming around them, or joining an existing church.
  • Sometimes, if you lead a refugee to Christ, this can spread to people back home.
  • We need a very portable view of discipleship and church.

Q&A

1. What mistake do UK church planters most commonly make?
  • They start by launching a service rather than getting the gospel out and making disciples.
  • The gospel needs to go first.
  • First make disciples, and then teach them what it means to be church.
  • You are looking for God-prepared people in that community. Bring the gospel in as soon as possible.
  • If you do start with a service, make sure you know how to make disciples.
2. Where do you get workers for the harvest?
  • Recruit them to this cause. Go to the harvest and take people with you.
  • When you encounter Christ in the harvest, you will find commitment to the cause. 
  • If you start with a service, you get a couple of years in and then start asking how to reach lost people. Why not just start with that?
3. Why haven't people emphasised this approach in church planting? 
  • There are always times in church history when the church walks away from our calling, and God is always bringing us back to it.
  • We get too caught up in our successes and we make this world our home. 
  • It is like Peter in Acts 10, when he hasn't quite grasped what God wants to do with the Gentiles.
  • Take a risk and step out. 
  • It's wonderful that Westerners are able to learn from people all over the world.
4. What place is there for things like Alpha courses and evangelistic services?
  • We want abundant sowing of the gospel.
  • Anything that gets the gospel out there is good.
  • It's not a movement until the newest of believers are sharing the gospel - Alpha isn't as easily replicable as this. It's a good start but you need a simple reproducing way for the gospel to spread as quickly as possible.
5. What do you think of the Zume project?
  • Steve is not familiar with it.
  • The key questions he would ask would be whether it is easily reproducible and whether the gospel strategy leads to disciples.
6. What do you mean by making disciples?
  • Jesus said 'teach them to obey everything I have commanded'.
  • 'Repent and believe' - so read a story about Jesus with new disciples and talk about what it means to run to God and put faith in him.
  • 'Be baptised' - read the story about Philip and the Eunuch. Talk about what we learn about God and ourselves, then what does it say about baptism.
  • Keep reading and applying stories about Jesus.
  • We can often think of discipleship in terms of spiritual disciplines, whereas the people we are meeting may be worried about not blowing their top with their wife again!
7. How do you help UK church planters grow in confidence in the gospel?
  • Get them to share it with 100 people and see what happens.
  • One way of communicating it is the three circles diagram - but it is the gospel that changes lives. 
8. What does this look like in a very busy culture? Do we adapt our approach or our lifestyle?
  • Just start with what time you have and see what happens. 
  • If you do it with the time you have and stick at it, that time will grow.
9. Can you give examples of churches in the UK that are getting it right?
  • Yes - lots of churches are being trained in how to do it and then going out and doing it!
  • These churches are not yet multiplying movements - but people are coming to faith and becoming disciples, so it is moving in the right direction!
  • When you do it, you encounter a lot less antagonism than you expect. 
10. What type of leadership enables movements to happen?
  • You need a lot of seed-sowers who will share the gospel.
  • You need church planters, who can gather new disciples and form communities.
  • The third level is church planters who can help others become church planters.
11. How does apologetics fit into this model?
  • It is mainly free of it!
  • We read stories about Jesus and ask people what they think.
  • Our job is to help people to encounter Jesus and the living word of God.
  • People are not argued into the kingdom - It is a heart question.
  • We are more likely to motivate people for evangelism if they are not preparing for arguments but just looking for people who are interested.
12. Do you have any final words for us?
  • Read and re-read the gospels and Acts. look at what Jesus did and think about how we can do that today.

Recommended Resources

To follow up this hangout, we recommend Steve's books on multiplying movements.

Note - If you buy these books using the affiliate links above, Broadcast will receive a commission from Amazon to help more churches get planted, at no additional cost to you.