Book Review: Viral Churches

Review by Mark Archibald of Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird’s Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (Jossey-Bass, 2010).

Mark Archibald
IMG_0738IMG_0739

Ed and Warren say it well: “This book can be summarized in two words: multiply everything.”

Whether church planting or serving in an established church, so much of what we try to do happens by addition. Add a new ministry. Add a staff member. Plant a new church.

Viral Churches challenges you to abandon the complex math of addition and instead take on the simple math of multiplication. Do everything with the intent of that church (ministry, leader, small group) being multiplied.

Though specific to people involved in church planting, this book has much to teach established churches about the value of multiplication and church planting. Established churches are encouraged to invest in planting churches as this benefits the “sending” church as much as the planted church.

IMG_0741 IMG_0740IMG_0742

Viral Churches challenges us to be in the practice of giving away and sending leaders, resources, church members instead of holding tightly to what we already have in hopes we don’t lose our leaders, resources and church members.

The material is based on years of study of church plants in North America and around the world. It is fueled by accurate information, discredits half-truths about church planting, and inspires you be part of the movement of leading people to Christ via planting churches. A variety of currently used models of multiplication in church planting provide practical, attainable examples.

This book challenged me to think in terms of multiplication as I train leaders and volunteers, encourage small groups within our church, and partner with church plants both inside and outside of the CBWC family.

Mark Archibald
Pastor of Spiritual Formation
First Baptist Church, Lethbridge

Mark Archibald

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? DO YOU AGREE WITH Mark’s ANALYSIS? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON stetzer’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.

Church Multiplication

What is a church multiplication movement? Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird say this in Viral Church:

We define a Church Multiplication Movement is as follows: a rapid multiplication of churches where a movement grows through multiplication by 50 percent in the number of churches in a given year to the third generation. For example, if they are 100 one year, they are at least 150 the next, and that growth is accounted for mostly by new converts, not transfers. Finally, this kind of growth continues to the third generation.

Here are some intriguing numbers from www.scatterus.wordpress.com

In the past 24 hours:

  • In Communist China, 37,500 people became followers of Jesus.

  • In Hindu India, 27,200 people became followers of Jesus.

  • In sub-Saharan Africa 17,000 people became followers of Jesus

While Christianity is bursting at the seams in Asia and Africa that is not the case in North America, or for that matter in much of the “developed” western world. In Latin America, one new church is planted every eight minutes. We must learn how to co-operate, collaborate and contextualize the strategies used in the “missions field” to re-reach the West. The strategies being used in the two-thirds world focus on rapid church multiplication movements. We need to start thinking not just in terms of planting individual churches, but rather what can be done to start a multiplying movement.

The principle of encouraging multiplication movements is a core value that drives the mission of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada – Church Planting Resource Team  we are committed to prayer, planning, partnering, promoting, planting and celebrating together with our church plants and existing churches as they multiply new congregations across the West.

Ed Stetzer has researched and written a valuable series on the subject of what church multiplication looks like (Viral Churches: Thinking about Church Multiplication Movements in the West) www.edstetzer.com/2012/02/viral-churches-thinking-about.html and his book “Viral Churches” is a strong voice in the ongoing conversation.

 Tom Lavigne, @tomlavigne1 (Twitter) CBWC Director of Church Planting