God’s Math: Multiplication
Todd Stiles   -  

Multiplication is the heart of the Great Commission. It’s the storyline of Acts, and the end time picture in Revelation. Frankly, one would be correct in asserting that one isn’t making disciples if one isn’t making disciples who makes disciples.

It’s all about multiplication.

Though this has been the heartbeat of FFC since we planted in 2004, much of our beginning years were consumed with laying groundwork. It’s only more recently, since about 2013ish, that the groundwork has become a groundswell; by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s power, our desire to plant and send has been visible and viable. With six churches planted (and one slated for 2022) and numerous FFCers in various places long-term around the globe, our gratefulness to God runs deep for his multiplying work in our midst.

In the middle of this gratefulness, I am routinely reminded of this thought: This is exactly what my home church did for years; this is the kind of church in which I grew up. Candidly, our church was multisiting, campusing, venuing, plantingmultiplying—and I probably didn’t even realize it! It made me humbly smile to remember there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Admittedly, we didn’t use those current hot words (above in italics); we were, nonetheless, living as a people ready to reproduce.

Some context to that paragraph. I grew up in Chattanooga, TN, at Highland Park Baptist Church in the mid-to-late 70’s and 80’s. We were the “Church of the Green Light,” and reaching out —“going”—was in our DNA. It was a church alive with passion and mission.

For instance, when we ran out of space in our main worship center, we began another service in the gym with live teaching by one of the staff from the church or college. Then, when we needed even more space, we began another one in an adjoining chapel right next door. Whatayaknow—we were multiplying through other venues.

Additionally, our church had developed over 60 chapels, located in Chattanooga and the surrounding area, where many of our college/seminary profs, sometimes even upper-level students, would pastor and preach. Yep, over 60 “satellites!” Arguably, one could say these were loose campuses of our church. Some of them eventually became autonomous congregations. Ah,church planting.

See what I mean? The italicized words in the previous two paragraphs are the current words in the discussion of multiplication. Yet this is, in many ways, precisely what was happening back then. We were multisiting. We were addingvenues. We were opening campuses. We were planting churches. And I didn’t even know it then. I just considered it obedience at a congregational level.

One thing I know now: We were multiplying.

You get the point, don’t you? Of course you do—Multiplication isn’t new. We’re not the first; frankly, neither was my home church. It’s been around since Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20). Or since Paul said, “…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Multiplication has always been the plan, no matter what you call it in your own neck of the woods and place in time.

In some ways, my home church was ahead of its time. Maybe not in its verbiage, but for sure in its values. It no doubt made an indelible and undeniable mark on my life. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I am so committed to continue to lead the effort here towards the vision of being a people ready to reproduce; to mobilizing our body to multiply; to developing devoted disciples who celebrate the gospel, grow in community, and serve the mission.

Yes, I’ll be forever grateful for the impact of a multiplying church with people who were committed to “making disciples of all nations.” And forever committed to seeing more of those kinds of Christians and churches raised up in every generation for the glory of God.

Pastor Todd