Sow, Sow…So?

By Cailey Morgan

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I heard a talk from Marc Pilon, a young and energetic church planter in Montreal. He says this about his approach to ministry:

“Sow, sow, sow! Sow abundantly and forests will grow: small seeds, trembling faith…Who knows: God may do something! If you’re going to lose sleep church planting, do it sowing, not waiting anxiously to see if something will grow.”

My gut reaction is to tell him to slow down–to discern and plan and use time wisely. But as I think more about it, I realize that sometimes my “planning” time is not wise or discerning at all; rather, it’s an excuse to not get anything done and not be on the hook for results!

Of course there needs to be due process and good stewardship of resources, but is it possible that our fear of failure has made us meticulous to the point of stagnating? If we want to see change in our neighbourhoods, change in our churches, change in our culture, we need to start with change in ourselves: “Who knows: God may do something!”

I’m thankful for my history of growing up in a church plant where it was understood that in order to reach people who aren’t currently hearing the Gospel, we need to get creative and enter their contexts. This attitude of “try everything” made for a few  embarrassing flunks along the way, but it also gave lots of grace and space for those on the margins to enter a safe community.

Marc Pilon continues, “Do we complexify our task too much? Do we make ministry so complicated that we get caught up in the little things instead of sowing abundantly?”

Ed Stetzer, a church planter and leading researcher on church planting and growth, would agree: he says that movements become movements when they are reproducible at every level. When we make our mission focus too complex, it’s hard to develop the next generation of leaders. When we complicate the Gospel, we hamstring our evangelism. Instead, let us remember the simple way Christ shared His ministry: “Come and See,” then, “Follow me,” then “Go and make disciples.”

I pray for each of you in your ministry and community that the seeds you sow will grow by God’s power, and that those you are discipling, even little seedlings, would reflect the prophecy of Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

 

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What Kind of People are You Planting?

By Sherry Bennett

When we think of planting and growing church–and by that I mean the people– do we think of the intergenerational nature of it?

The default for many churches from the get-go can be towards the adult contingency, with the kids and youth being the afterthought, or even at times, a distraction from the “real work and ministry” of the church. Children are sometimes even valued mainly as a ministry tool: an “in” to connecting with our neighbours so that we can in turn build the “more important” ministries that cater to adults.

But when we think about God’s intent for His Church, we must recognize that the authentic body of Christ is only fully present when all ages are welcomed, valued and invited to engage and participate. The challenge for us as we consider what church is, is to appropriately wrestle with the place of children and youth, as well as the adult generations, in our midst.

CC BY-ND 2.0 José Manuel Ríos Valiente

CC BY-ND 2.0 José Manuel Ríos Valiente

There is a buzz lately around the perceived exodus of young people and young adults from our churches and several pieces of research have emerged that reflect and review this trend.  It is being noted that those young people who have grown up in the Church and then continue on as committed and functioning members of the body are those who have benefited from healthy intergenerational communities of believers with parents, older youth and other caring adults building into them, discipling them and mentoring them in ministry. These young people know that they are part of the functioning of the church; they feel valued, they have ownership and they appreciate the discipleship they receive.

As a denomination we recognize the value of planting new churches. We also recognize the value of children and youth in the planting and growth process and having them deeply involved from the very beginning. It is critical for us to consider our ecclesiology as it relates to children and families even at the very early stages of church development, if we want to establish communities that accurately reflect the nature of Christ and His intentions for His Bride.

There are several resources available that can help with the process of evaluating and determining the foundation and trajectory of our ministries:

If you are interested in reading one of these books and reviewing it for this blog, email Cailey at cmorgan@cbwc.ca and she’ll send you a copy of the book for free.Sherry Bennett

Sherry Bennett is our Director of Children and Families Ministries. Through seminars, one-on-one support and providing various resources, Sherry helps equip CBWC churches and church plants for effective intergenerational ministry for God’s Kingdom. She can be reached at sbennett@cbwc.ca.

Book Review: Planting Churches in the 21st Century

Review by Rev. Fay Puddicombe of Stuart Murray’s Planting Churches in the 21st Century (Herald Press, Scottdale PA and Waterloo, Ont.: Herald Press, 2010).

Stuart Murray has written an excellent concise book on church planting. His book answers all the questions we learned in journalism class – who, what, why, where, when, how and a bonus: “what’s next.” This structure makes the book an easy to navigate guide for all those seeking to plant churches as part of their mission.Fay Puddicombe

The author
Murray was a church planter in London England for 12 years. Beyond that he has been a trainer, consultant, chair of the Anabaptist Network and has written many books.

I wondered at the outset if Murray’s British experience would be relevant in North American churches. In reading the book it was obvious that the research and consulting he has done is widely applicable, even though every church planting situation is unique.

Why church planting?
After research reviewing the mixed results of church planting in the 1990s Murray and George Lings concluded the following:

Church planting continues to represent a vital response to the missionary challenges of contemporary culture. Indeed, unless we believe existing churches are flexible enough to embrace the changes needed to retain our present members, let alone reach out effectively to those beyond our congregations, planting is crucial. And unless we resign ourselves to mission and ministry only among the very limited proportion of the population for whom most churches serve even remotely relevant, planting is essential.” (Lings and Murray Church Planting) p 16

Content and Purpose
Murray writes, “My intention in this book is to provide a framework for practitioners as they set about this kind of planting.” (p 17) He has written other books about the foundations of church planting, this one moves into the practical ‘how to.’

There are many lists in this book. Examples include the following:

  • Types of innovative church plants
  • Questions to consider when planting
  • Ideal qualities for church planters
  • Issues to consider when building a church planting team

One list highlights what is needed in the childhood’ stage of a church and includes things such as these:

  • “Rehearsing core values, vision, ethos and priorities of the church so that those who join are inducted into these foundational commitments.
  • Ensuring that mission remains the priority, but developing maintenance processes to nurture the emerging church.” p 200

Audience
The book is directed to those actively involved in church planting and could be a text for courses on missions as well. It would be helpful for a church to work through as a study in the year before they launch a church plant. Each chapter concludes with questions for discussion. Churches not in a planting phase could also benefit from reading this it would act as a reminder of the mission of the church.

Strengths
In 226 pages Murray provides a good overall look at church planting and the possibilities. While very much a text book, I found it readable.

An appendix provides a list of helpful resources including a bibliography of books, courses and websites.

The following are interesting quotes from the book.

The terminology of church planting is discussed. Some people do not like the term “church planting” and all it implies. Murray notes:

Abandoning “church planting” may hinder those involved in emerging churches, fresh expressions, and other mission initiatives from drawing on the hard-won experience of church planters. However new and different these initiatives are in style, ethos, and approach, they do involve the formation of Christian communities and so have more in common with church planting than some may wish to acknowledge.” p 19

Sometimes when we want change we ‘toss the baby out with the bathwater’ and he offers this balanced comment:

Some new churches, after experimenting with fresh patterns, revert to more traditional forms with renewed appreciation. After all, inherited forms of church, whatever their perceived weaknesses and need for renewal to connect with a diverse and changing culture, evolved and were tested over a long period and have significant strengths. Traditionalism may be problematic, but there are usually good reasons why traditions endure. Is indiscriminate rejection of traditions any more helpful than unthinking captivity to the past?” p 137

One quote that really stuck with me came out of his thoughts on new churches that attract many who are unhappy with their old church. He says this:

I have talked with church planters who deeply regretted allowing their focus to shift from mission in the community – not least because many of those they had spent hours with soon became disenchanted with their new church and left once more. p 45

Overall Assessment/recommendation
I highly recommend this book for pastoral students as they embark on ministry in both new and established church placements. As I’ve already said, it would be very helpful for any group, church or denomination planning to enter a church planting phase of ministry.

The book ends with a challenging question “How is God calling you to be involved in planting churches?” Then he lists 16 ways you could, finishing off with these words:

Directly or indirectly, strategically or locally, full-time or part-time, in planting teams or in support roles, hundreds of thousands of us could become involved. And that might just galvanize a movement after all. p 209-210

Have you read this book? Do you agree with Fay’s analysis? Share your thoughts on Murray’s book, this review, or other resources that might be helpful in this church planting discussion by commenting on the blog or emailing cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

December Church Planting Update

Here’s an article we wrote for the CBWC’s monthly enewsletter, Making Connections, with some exciting Church Planting news. In case you missed it, I’m posting it here as well.
~ Cailey

It’s an exciting time in Church Planting with the CBWC. Our executive Coordinator and Director of the BC-Yukon Region’s church planting activities–Shannon Youell–has been with us since early this year and has already brought fresh energy and ideas to the table. Ron Orr, Alberta-NWT’s Church Planting Director, has been faithfully serving since the spring as well.

We’ve seen growth of our existing plants, and we look forward to introducing several new partnerships and local works to you in the coming months. We also look ahead to the further development of church planting initiatives in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as we welcome Pastor Joell Haugan to our team as part-time Heartland Director starting January 2015!

Joell, who pastors at Community Baptist Church in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, shares some thoughts with us about his past, present and future ministry.

Making Connections: What is your experience in pastoring / church planting?

Cailey Morgan,  Ron Orr, Joell Haugan and Shannon Youell

Cailey Morgan, Ron Orr, Joell Haugan and Shannon Youell

Joell Haugan: I’ve been a pastor for 23 years ….13 of which were as a youth pastor and 20 of which have been with the CWBC in both Kitimat, BC and now here in Swift Current.  Here in Sask we initiated a church plant in a very little town and hour and a half south of Speedy Creek. It was great to be involved in that ministry which, sadly, lasted only about five years. However, that planted in me a desire to see more churches started in any and every place! If we could get a church going (even for a little while) is a town of 20 people… surely they can be planted anywhere!

MC: Share some passions and joys in your current ministry?

JH: What we see here in Swift Current is a town that has been noticeably changed over the past decade. Immigration has literally changed the colour of our city and our church has changed right along with it. A body of believers that reflects the makeup of their community is a sign of health. Our blended ages and ethnic groups has been a blessing to this church….which was planted only 25 years ago itself as part of a Heartland Area (then the Saskatchewan Area) initiative. I would love to be part of similar initiatives to see other areas blessed the way we have been here in Swift Current!

MC: What excites you most about your new role?

JH: The traditional models of church planting can still be a valuable model for ministry however, what excites me is that churches can pop up in so many different ways these days. I imagine that when existing churches simply open themselves up to to the church birthing process we’ll see satellite churches, house churches, affinity churches, ethnic churches, multi-ethnic churches, inter-generational churches, front porch churches…. and some other types we haven’t even thought of!

Pray with us that the Holy Spirit would go before Joell and guide him as he seeks to catalyse, connect, and encourage new churches in the Heartland.

Update from Family Camp

A few weeks ago, we shared the story of Greenhills Christian Fellowship in Calgary and their creative fundraisers for family camp. Here is an update from GCF, and a video that offers highlights from their time away together over the August long weekend.

What a way to spend the long weekend with your family in Christ!

This year’s family camp was another exciting experience! Held last August 2-5, 2013 at the Gull Lake Centre, Lacombe, it was attended by close to 95 people, including young children. The guest speaker, Pastor Jeremiah Abel of Abundant Life Ministries, spoke about the Holy Spirit and His work in the life of the believer.

The attendees were grouped into four : Red, Yellow, Orange and Blue Team. Each group was a mixture of adult and children members. This year, the members of each family  were put together in the same group.

The main competition was conceptualized  ”a la Amazing Race,” called Race to Grace, where a series of games, clues and tasks were assigned for each group to decipher and accomplish. Congratulations to the Orange Team for beating the other teams into finishing all tasks ahead of the others.

Family night on August 4th was another exciting event. Each team presented a skit with the objective of conveying the theme, “IGNITE!” into their presentations.

The children of Kids Camp learned about the different symbols of fire in the Scriptures : God’s Word, God’s Presence, God’s Power and the Holy Spirit. The kids were taught God’s Word according to the lesson planned, played games, did crafts, had storytelling and had a blast leading the congregation in worship on Sunday evening! They also presented a dance called, “Let Your Light Shine!” during the Family Night. All babies, toddlers and school-aged children were presented a certificate as a memory of the camp. It is the organizers’ desire for them to continue to be discipled in their homes.

Thank you to all who attended! Until the next camp.

 

 

Kudos to the organizers and praise God for this camp!

GospelFest

2012 GospelFest Concert

2012 GospelFest Concert

This August, Kelly Maurice and her team from Première Église Évangélique d’Expression Française de Calgary (PEEEFC) and other Calgary churches will be hosting the second annual GospelFest, with a vision to celebrate God through the arts and serve the community by bringing awareness and raising funds for charitable organizations.

Gospelfest is an outdoor Christian festival in Calgary that aims to bring God’s people together without barriers. Poetry and music from around the world spreads hope throughout the park, and funds are raised for ministries doing important work.

The very first Gospelfest concert took place August 25, 2012, and was a great success. The event had various bands playing music from gospel to contemporary Christian, and even in different languages. Over 250 people from various communities around Calgary gathered at Stanley Park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to sing praise and listen to outstanding Christian music. The event was partnered with Samaritan’s Purse, who raised $4,000 for refugee camps in South Sudan.

This year, GospelFest will be taking place at the bowl in Prairie Winds Park (223 Castleridge Blvd, NE, Calgary AB) from 4 to 7pm on August 24. Kelly is hoping for more guests, and therefore needs more volunteers. There are several ways you and your church can participate in GospelFest, whether or not you are located in Calgary:

1. Pray. When the Gospel is shared, there’s bound to be backlash, but we know that the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s hearts. Pray for the details of the day like safety and good weather, but especially that people would come and would be touched by God’s good news.

2. Volunteer. Kelly and her crew will need volunteers for the day, especially for security, First Aid, and lost and found. Volunteers will be needed from as early as 10am until as late as 10pm. Contact Kelly if you can help or to organize sending a team from your church to Calgary for the weekend.

3. Donate. Any church or individual interested in sponsoring PEEEFC for the event can get in touch with Kelly to go over the brief GospelFest sponsorship presentation.

Kelly can be reached at kmaurministries@hotmail.ca or 403-903-2774.

Connected

A couple of months ago, we published the following article by Joelle Reiniger in our GO WEST! enewsletter. Joelle’s story has been such an encouragement that we’ve decided to post it again here. Now that the weather has improved and there are only a few weeks left of school for the kids, consider how your family can step out and connect with the people in your neighbourhood over the next weeks.

Last year our building fire alarm rang. Guessing correctly that it had simply malfunctioned, my husband Jordan and I reluctantly left our suite to join the group of groggy residents who formed a ring around our highrise apartment complex.Edmonton apartment building

We looked around at a community of strangers, who would likely never have been seen in one place without a fire truck on the way. This scenario could not be more different from the vision of community described by our co-pastor Karen Wilk, always urging us to live out the Biblical mandate to “love your neighbour as yourself.” Our neighbourhood is and likely always will be urban. Jordan and I love our proximity to arts venues, public transit connections and North America’s largest stretch of urban parkland, the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

As a former city hall reporter I have a longstanding interest in civic strategies to develop a sense of community in the city’s core, a passion Jordan shares. He works in the non-profit sector and is continually faced with Edmonton’s social problems including homelessness and the plight of the working poor. Through these experiences, we have come to believe that social isolation is the root of most of our city’s problems.

In North America, we are all too familiar with how difficult it is to combat isolation and loneliness amidst the busyness of our culture. There are limitations in time, but also limitations in space. From the car, to the cubicle to the coffee shop, our social spaces are ideal for filtering out unwanted human encounters, even in public places. This freedom to choose whom to interact with seems especially present downtown. There are 18 stories in our building. Most of the people who we share an elevator ride with, we never see again.

At first, this we didn’t view this as a problem. When we moved into our building, we had as many relationships and commitments as we felt we could manage. Yet, we found Pastor Karen’s teaching about “being” the church in our geographical neighbourhood compelling.

We caught the vision of taking literally the command to love our neighbour and to do so in a diverse community, not bound together by common interests, social class or consumer preferences but by the mere fact that we are people created by God for Him and for each other. Under Karen’s leadership, we began meeting regularly with other members of our church who wanted to participate in the work of God in their neighbourhoods.

Conversations often turned to the practice of hospitality, but as the rest of the group told stories about barbecues, potlucks and block parties, we doubted our built environment was conducive forming these human connections. In a downtown apartment, there is a stark division between public and private space. Other than our laundry, hot tub and fitness rooms, there are no public spaces for friendships to germinate.

With some trepidation, we hosted a Floor 5 Christmas party, just to see what would happen—to see if anybody would show up, if anyone else wanted to put a face to a laundry basket. A few did, and we had a great time, sipping spiked eggnog and swapping funny stories.

One thing led to another and, less than a year later, our neighbours are among the first people we think of when we plan to go out with friends or to invite someone over for drinks or dinner. With some, spiritual connections underpin our social ties. Our next door neighbour, also a Christian, has joined our Bible study. Another spiritually-minded man in our building has suggested forming an organized network to respond to the needs of neighbours as we learn of them.

In retrospect, it feels as though this process happened overnight, but our connection to the community got off to a slow start. We spent the first few months somewhat passively listening to Pastor Karen outline principles of the incarnational church. We spent a lot of time talking about how we hypothetically might connect with our urban neighbourhood.

Then we procrastinated, theorized and talked some more.

The turning point in our journey came a month or two after our Christmas party. We had connected with a handful of neighbours and could actually envision a thriving community in our Soviet-style apartment block. We also realized we could not participate in a Kingdom-centered vision for our community with only one foot in our neighbourhood. Relationships take time and meaningful community involvement was incompatible with our busy lifestyle.

Ironically, we found the time and space, in part, by limiting the scope of our formal church involvement. Our focus shifted away from viewing church as a spiritual fuelling station and as our default social network. We traded this paradigm for a vision of “being” the church in a more organic way in our community.

Increasingly, we came to view our Bible study group as our home church. We started taking communion together, devoting larger segments of our time to prayer, eating meals together and taking responsibility for each other’s welfare. This sense of connectedness naturally fuelled our desire to foster a Biblical model of community in our neighbourhood.

Last month our building fire alarm rang again. I walked around the base of the building looking for Greg, Krista, Dave, Teea, Devin, Jess, Josh, Hélène, Grant, or someone else to chat with while waiting to return to our apartment. When the bell rang, I felt safe. The Cold-War era concrete seemed indestructible, insulating us from the vulnerabilities of newer buildings.

I also felt secure because, this year, Jordan and I have neighbours who know our names and unit number—people who look out for us as we look out for them.

We are insulated, but we are by no means isolated.

This article from From GO WEST! 2.7 courtesy of Forge Canada‘s Missional Voice newsletter.

A Year at Canaan

Canaan Life Spring Baptist Church’s first service was held in March of 2012.

Here are some of the highlights of their first year:

Mothers' Day Sharing

Mothers’ Day Sharing.

Sean shares of his healing from cancer.

Sean shares of his healing from cancer.

Pastor Kao leads games at Summer Retreat

Pastor Kao leads games at Summer Retreat.

CLSBC's First Baptism Service. Mrs. Sun and her son Steve are baptized.

CLSBC’s First Baptism Service. Mrs. Sun and her son Steve are baptized.

Special Music at the Christmas Service.

Special Music at the Christmas Service.

Christmas Games.

Christmas Games.

To learn more about Canaan Life Spring, or to find out how you can support this young congregation, contact Tom Lavigne, Director of Church Planting, at 604.420.7646 or tlavigne@cbwc.ca.

 

 

 

 

Planting for Kingdom-Mindedness

Continuing from last issue, Timothy Keller answers the question, Why Plant Churches?

WE PLANT CHURCHES AS AN EXERCISE IN KINGDOM-MINDEDNESS

All in all, church planting helps an existing church best when the new congregation is voluntarily birthed by an older “mother” congregation. Often the excitement and new leaders and new ministries and additional members and income wash back into the mother church in various ways and streKarenFamilyWithCdnHostsngthen and renew it.

Although there is some pain in seeing good friends and valued leaders go away to form a new church, the mother church usually soon experiences a surge of high self-esteem and an influx of new, enthusiastic leaders and members.

However, a new church in the community usually confronts churches with a major issue—the issue of “kingdom-mindedness.” New churches, as we have seen, draw most of their new members (up to 80%) from the ranks of the un-churched, but they will always attract some people out of existing churches. That is inevitable.

At this point, the existing churches, in a sense, have a question posed to them: “Are we going to rejoice in the 80 percent—the new people the kingdom has gained through this new church—or are we going to bemoan the situation and resent the three families we lost to it?” Our attitude to new church development is a test of whether our mindset is geared to our own institutional turf or to the overall health and prosperity of the kingdom of God in the city.

Any church that is more upset by its own small losses than grateful for the kingdom’s large gains is betraying its narrow interests. Even so, as we have seen, the benefits that new church planting offers to older congregations is very great, even if not initially obvious.

Read Tim Keller’s final conclusions on the question why plant churches? in our next issue of GO WEST!.

This series of articles is composed of Timothy Keller’s paper Why Plant Churches. Copyright © 2002 by Timothy Keller, © 2009 by Redeemer City to City.

New Churches Best Reach the Unchurched–Period.

This article by Dr. Tim Keller appeared in GO WEST! Issue 2 Volume 4. read the previous installment.

 

Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60–80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshiping body, while churches over ten to fifteen years of age gain 80–90 percent of new members by transfer from other congregations.1 This means the average new congregation will bring six to eight times more new people into the life of the body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.

Crossover Church Plant Christmas Party

Crossover Church Plant Christmas Party

Although established congregations provide many things that newer churches often cannot, older churches in general will never be able to match the effectiveness of new bodies in reaching people for the kingdom. Why would this be? As a congregation ages, powerful internal institutional pressures lead it to allocate most of its resources and energy toward the concerns of its members and constituents, rather than toward those outside its walls. This is natural and to a great degree desirable. Older congregations have a stability and steadiness that many people thrive on and need. This does not mean that established churches cannot win new people. In fact, many non-Christians will be reached only by churches with long roots in the community and the marks of stability and respectability.

On the other hand, new congregations, in general, are forced to focus on the needs of its non-members, simply to get off the ground. Because so many of a new church’s leaders came very recently from the ranks of the un-churched, the congregation is far more sensitive to the nonbeliever’s concerns. Also, in the first two years of our Christian life, we have far more close, face-to-face relationships with non-Christians than we do later.

A congregation filled with people fresh from the ranks of the un-churched will thus have the power to invite and attract many more nonbelievers into the church’s life and events than will the members of the typical established body.

What does this mean, practically? If we want to reach our city, should we try to renew older congregations to make them more evangelistic, or should we plant lots of new churches? That question is surely a false either-or dichotomy. We should do both! Nevertheless, the above shows that, despite the occasional exceptions, the only broad-scale way to bring many new Christians into the body of Christ in a permanent way is to plant new churches.

To throw this into relief, imagine that Town A, Town B, and Town C are the same size, and they each have a hundred churches of one hundred persons each. In Town A, all the churches are more than fifteen years old. The overall number of active Christian churchgoers in that town is shrinking, even if four or five of the churches get very “hot” and double in attendance. In Town B, five of the churches are fewer than fifteen years old.

They, along with several older congregations, are winning new people to Christ, but this only offsets the normal declines of the older churches. Thus the overall number of active Christian churchgoers in that town is staying the same. Finally, in Town C, thirty of the churches are under fifteen years old. In this town, the overall number of active Christian churchgoers is on a path to grow 50 percent in a generation.2

Response
“But,” many people say, “what about all the existing churches that need help? You seem to be ignoring them.” Not at all.

Find out how church planting helps bolster existing churches in the next issue of GO WEST!. Until then, let us know what you think of Keller’s arguments.

This series of articles is composed of Timothy Keller’s paper Why Plant Churches. Copyright © 2002 by Timothy Keller, © 2009 by Redeemer City to City.

1. Lyle Schaller, quoted in D. McGavran and G. Hunter, Church Growth: Strategies That Work (Nashville: Abingdon, 1980), 100. See also C. Kirk Hadaway, New Churches and Church Growth in the Southern Baptist Convention (Nashville: Broadman, 1987).

2. See Lyle Schaller, 44 Questions for Church Planters (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991), 12. Schaller talks about “the 1% Rule.” Each year any association of churches should plant new congregations at the rate of 1 percent of their existing total; otherwise, that association will be in decline. That is just “maintenance.” If an association wants to grow 50 percent plus, it must plant 2–3 percent per year.