Thursday, December 13

'Growth' vs. 'reproduction'

I first read Let's Stop Planting Sterile Churches by Carol Davis on Les Puryear's blog. I strongly encourage you to read the entire article. What follows is an excerpt...

...I want to show you the difference between what I call a "growth culture" in which we've all been trained and a "reproduction model." Because I believe to plant a church is a different animal than to plant a church-planting church. In fact, I'm convinced that the skill sets we learned in ministry training will actually insure that things don't reproduce.

In our growth culture we've learned to focus on individual conversions, while a reproduction model focuses on group conversions.

We've started on believer's turf. But in order to reproduce, we must start on unbeliever's turf. If we want group conversions of family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends, those people are not going to come to a stranger's house or into the strange setting of a church. They will come to turf where they are always involved. In our culture we teach Scripture for information. With the reproductive model it is taught for application, so that people are watching the power of God.

We've begun by finding Christians. But if you want a really powerful church start, find people of peace. Bar the Christians; don't let them in. They mess things up in the early stages.

We've begun in facilities. This takes money and expertise, which are not readily available. If you begin in homes or front porches or yards or parks, there are always more of them.

We've tended to start with celebration in a large group. For reproduction you start with a small group. Very few people actually have the ability and gifts to do a large group well. It takes more expertise, more preparation, more everything. A lot of people can facilitate small groups. They were already doing it in their own natural network before they were saved.

We build programs and buildings. To reproduce, you build leaders.

Leadership is also different. Traditionally we import professional clergy. But what we need for reproduction is to have indigenous and convert-emerging clergy. Where are the future pastors for this setting? They are in the streets, they are beating their wives, they are ripping off their employers.

Also, the leader tends to see himself as the leader for all the participants. In a reproducing church, the leader is the equipper for the emerging leaders. That is how they see themselves, and that is how they stay focused. We are used to funding the church starter. But for churches that will start other churches, you need to have bi-vocational church starters. If we are going to see the cities reached, it is going to be with bi-vocational people. Otherwise, it takes too long to actually fund.

In my own experience, every time we got ready to plant a church we felt like we couldn't afford to lose those people, their tithes and all that. But every time we did, we actually didn't skip a beat. God supplied. I found the most powerful thing is that connection with another church who cares.

In fact, in every church that I see planting churches, I find that some of their own issues begin to dissolve. I don't know what it is. They are giving themselves away. I am convinced you cannot out-give God. The more you give, the more God does.

Growth Culture vs. Reproductive Model

GC: Focus on individual conversions
RM: Focus on group conversions

GC: Start on believer's turf
RM: Start on unbeliever's turf

GC: Teach Scripture for information
RM: Teach Scripture for application

GC: Begin by finding Christians
RM: Begin by finding "people of peace"

GC: Begin in facilities
RM: Begin in homes, front porches, yards, parks

GC: Start with celebration in a large group
RM: Start with a small group

GC: Build programs and buildings
RM: Build leaders

GC: Import professional clergy
RM: Have indigenous and convert-emerging clergy

GC: Leader leads all the participants
RM: Leader equips the emerging leaders

GC: Fund the church starter
RM: Start churches with bi-vocational people


Dion said...

This is so right on Guy. I couldn't agree more. I'm so excited because God is finally leading us to some "unbeliever turf" with our house churches here and I'm chomping at the bit to see what happens. It's sad to say, but I agree that we really should have barred out any Christians from our house church when we were getting started. Our network has adopted a new church policy, if there are more than three "cradle Christians" in a group, it has to split up.
Now, I try to stay away from Christians as much as I can in regards to our church. We also have stopped inviting people to our house church (and won't let them come if they want to) we are really trying to start new house churches where they are. We're looking for the people of peace and group conversions through scripture application, just like the article says. It's been a long time coming, but I think that is mainly because it took so long to shed the church growth model. Thanks to people like you and others I read about, we're learning the new (old) ways of being church. Keep up the good work brother!

GuyMuse said...


Good to hear from you again! It wasn't 20 minutes ago that I viewed the fun video you had up on your own blog!

We had over to the house for lunch a few days ago a couple you know, Derek and Carla. They are here for the birth of their baby. One Sunday I took them to visit a house church and they seemed to be quite impacted by the experience. We have really enjoyed getting to know them.

In our own church planting we focus on reaching the lost. If there are believers who want to join from other churches, we encourage them to plant their own house churches. We don't want to be accused of "sheep stealing". This is already a problem, so we train all our people to focus on the lost friends, neighbors, family, etc.

Dion said...

Derek and Carla told me they met you. They are great friends and I'm glad they got to meet you and go to a house church there.
I agree with trying to get Christians that want to join to start their own house churches, but it is so hard b/c they just want to be fed. we have yet to see the Christians that have joined us reach out and start their own churches so I'm wondering if by our reaching out and starting new churches they will catch on and do the same.
It is so tough to break the mind set of bringing more people to our church instead of going out and planting new churches. I guess if it took me so long to figure it out I ought to have a bit of patience with others too.

Gary Snowden said...


Very good thoughts. I had the privilege of meeting Carol at a meeting of WorldconneX and she really is an amazing person with a passion for church planting. She offered me a ride to the airport at the conclusion of our gathering and I was enthralled by her stories of what she was doing in helping others to think strategically about using their gifts to impact the lostness of our world.

Strider said...

Well Guy, You have put out a bunch good post lately but this one is the best. I agree with these principles very strongly and encourage everyone to get on board!

GuyMuse said...


Mindset is the biggest obstacle most of us deal with in church planting. Our minds get set on one way of doing things and to break that concrete is one tough job! It is easier to just begin with new believers, rather than reorient those who have been Christians a while. We do both, but the former is definitely easier.


I have been trying to figure out where I know Carol Davis name from? I know that name, but cannot place her. Is she involved with the House2House people? I think I may have seen her on a H2H video sometime back or met her at a conference. Anyway...I love passionate people. They are inspiring to be around, and I seek to be one of those kinds of people that fire up others!


What thrills me is that these matters are beginning to appear on SBC blogs and are beginning to get the attention of SBC pastors. This is what is needed to begin a dialog about these matters. I am looking forward to a Dec.26 post that I was asked to write for SBC-Impact about house churches. Hopefully enough will be home and reading the day after Christmas to engage in the dialog.

Gabryel Arias said...

Awesome stuff brother Guy, totally on target. I've been checking out your Blog for the last 2 months and it's full of powerful info to put into action. Thanks for sharing the Wisdom that God has given you, you are truly a gift to the body of Christ (Eph 4:8,11-13).
You know...I actually grew up in Guayaquil (Los Ceibos/La Aborada) My mother is from there and I spent most of my childhood and adolecence there. I recently went back as a Believer, and it's amazing to see how ripe people are to receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. They are so hungry for Truth, Hope and Love. Thank you for the work that you do there.
I'd love to one day have an opportunity to meet you on one of my trips back with my wife and daughter.

Abundant Blessings,

Brother Gabryel Arias

GuyMuse said...

Hno. Gabryel,

I would love to meet you and your daughter on one of your trips back down to Guayaquil. Just give us a call when you get here! I know both Los Ceibos and Alborada well. Thanks for the kind words, and feel free to stop by anytime and share any thoughts you have with us. Bendiciones hermano.

Chris L said...

Thanks for pointing us to a great article, Guy. I liked it a lot and ended up blogging it myself. One of the most important truths I see there is that every living organism reproduces. If it doesn't, it is sick, dead, or sterile. We need to keep reproduction as a measuring stick of the health of our churches. If we were to do that right now, we might be surprised by what we find in many places!

GuyMuse said...


Glad you found the article as helpful as I did. What is your blog? I'd like to pay you a visit sometime!

Chris L said...

Hey Guy,

My blog is I'd love to have you drop by!