By Don Bartel
I loved my physics classes in college. Those of you who know me well know that this would be true. One of the basic equations we learned was, "momentum equals mass times velocity." I'm sure you have no idea where I am going with this, but don't let a little physics cause you to stop reading.
In ministries we generally are very happy when we have a lot of momentum. By that I mean we have a lot of people (mass) doing a lot of things (velocity). The more people we have involved and the more they are doing, the greater the momentum of the ministry.
I see three possible scenarios. First, one staff confessed to me that he felt his ministry was "weightless" (no people - no momentum). This can be discouraging. Second, I have talked to many a pastor who felt his church was "stuck" (lots of people, but no meaningful activity - no momentum). This also can be discouraging. Third, I see that many of the ministries in the Metro Mission are gaining momentum (lots of people doing lots of things - great momentum). This is quite encouraging.
Now to my main point, I firmly believe in spiritual multiplication. Spiritual multiplication (among other things like recruiting and mobilizing) increases momentum. We want to see lots of this and we are. Movements of the Gospel, on the other hand, gain momentum in a different way. They gain momentum by multiplying communities. Let me explain by repeating what I said in last month's Metro eNews.
I believe existing families (oikos) and relational networks already share the connection of community in the natural sense. That is, they share elements of life together. Some experience this life together more strongly than others. When the Gospel invades these relationships, a new spiritual dynamic enters and the existing community is transformed as more and more of them begin following Jesus. As a community like this develops and matures, its overflow spreads the Gospel to new families and relational networks. The community formation process that was experienced by the first community is reproduced in the second, the third, the forth, and so on.
In the last decade God has caused an explosion of this kind of community multiplication in the wake of a rapidly advancing Gospel. There are now many outbreaks like this in China, India, and a number of Muslim countries. I am praying that it will now happen in the western world, and especially here in the United States.
In order to see this kind of community multiplication, we need to think in new ways and learn some new skills. Here are some of the topics we might explore in upcoming articles.
- Families and relational networks
- God's blessing
- Grassroots fruitfulness
- What do you really believe?
- Community formation