Broken for Blessing: a Book for Ordinary People in Ordinary Churches
This is not an out-of-reach account of a mega ministry by a mega pastor, but an inspiring story of what a faithful congregation can accomplish. Alan does not sugar coat the costs for a medium-sized church in multiplying but does provide a roadmap from his experience with Southlands Church. Southlands might not be a church that makes headlines in the ‘most influential’ lists but she has had a remarkable journey of planting and multiplication. Broken for Blessing tells this story and is for all who desire to be part of a multiplying church.
Any teacher worth their salt has heard that dubious student excuse for turning in work late. “I’m sorry, but the dog ate my homework!” Well, that really did happen to me this past week when I came home to find that Milo, our nine month-old puppy, had found a box of my newly released Broken for Blessing books and chewed at least five of them.
I was surprised how many of my friends actually wanted to purchase the puppy-chewed editions! That may just be their love of dogs, but I suspect it’s a deeper phenomenon. I suspect people want their spirituality to be rooted in the ordinary. A book on church multiplication with the cover ripped off by a puppy seems more true-to life than the glossy stories we hear at many church-planting conferences, detached from the dog-eared reality of mere mortals like you and me.
When I wrote a book on the underrated potential of the medium-sized multiplying church, my hope was to tell exactly that; a dog-eared story that would encourage ordinary people in ordinary churches.
God can do extraordinary things with ordinary people in ordinary churches
Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, estimates that only five percent of multiplying churches in the West are under 1,000 people in size. ( I realize that large in many countries in the West may be closer to 800 people) Be that as it may, the vision to be a multiplying church is generally a large church phenomenon because it’s such a resource-rich vision. I’m so thankful for large churches that multiply.
However, our fixation with large means that churches in the 200-700 people range generally have a vision for addition rather than multiplication, because if we’re honest, multiplication feels too much like subtraction. It’s easy for small or medium-sized churches to think, “Maybe one day when I grow up and have lots of resources I’ll think of multiplying, but for now, I must grow by addition.” That’s why churches in the 5th percentile that have a multiplying vision are uncommon, like unicorns. But I don’t think they should be. In fact, despite the resource challenges, I believe medium-sized churches are better suited to multiplying than large or small churches.
Firstly, because they are more in touch with the ordinary realities of small churches than large churches are. They haven’t forgotten the all-hands-on-deck dustiness that planting requires. They don’t expect everything to be laid out for them. Secondly, they have slightly bigger resource margins than small churches and are less likely to die through multiplying. When medium-sized churches multiply, the whole church feels the pain of sending, but not in a way that kills it. That is healthy.
Essentially, this book is calling for these unicorns to become more common. I am hoping this book catalyzes a movement of medium-sized multiplying churches, even as it encourages small and large churches in their own multiplication efforts. Don’t wait until you’re large before you start multiplying. Think of it this way: Families don’t have to be large before they multiply, they just need to be healthy. So, get healthy and get going by God’s grace. It’s how Jesus designed His Church to grow and it’s how He intended His Great Commission to be fulfilled.
Southlands’ dream to be a multiplying church has meant dying to a megachurch dream, which looks like eating a slice of humble pie with a side of obscurity! But that dream has meant that by God’s grace we have multiplied 16 times in the last 21 years, mostly as a medium-sized church. My hope is that Southlands’ story can be catalytic because it is so believably ordinary.
There really is no ordinary church in Jesus’ eyes. He wants to do extraordinary things with ordinary people in ordinary churches as they place what He has given them back in His hands to be broken and multiplied for His glory.
The book is available world-wide on Amazon in paperback and kindle format.