I just finished reading, “BECOMING A LEVEL FIVE CHURCH” and I’ve got to tell you that it has forced me to rethink how I measure church health. By the way, you can download the book for free at this link: https://resources.wesleyan.org/becoming-a-level-five-church-ebook
The big-picture idea of the book is that there are five levels of church health illustrated by the following diagram:
Levels 1 and 2 churches are either subtracting or merely surviving. Approximately 80% of all churches fit into these two categories and their motto is, “Please stay.”
Level 3 churches add. About 16% of all churches fit into this category and their motto is, “Please come.” These churches have been models of innovation and creativity, showing us how to attract people to our churches. That’s great, but there is something even better.
Levels 4 and 5 churches reproduce. Their goal is not merely to add people, but to plant new churches. Only 4% of all churches fit into these two categories. Their motto is, “Please go.” These churches focus more on sending capacity than on seating capacity.
Now, think of a magnet. The closer you get to it, the stronger it attracts. Now, imagine a magnet to the left of the above diagram. Levels 1 and 2 churches are pulled toward scarcity thinking. The vast majority of their resources, time, energy and programming are pulled toward merely surviving.
Now, move the magnet to the middle of the diagram. Everything is about growth. Resources, time, energy and programming are all about adding the next person. Growth thinking is definitely better than scarcity thinking, but here’s the problem. That magnet that drew the church toward growth is keeping it from multiplying. We can’t give away people and resources to new works because we need all of our resources to feed the level 3 machine. That principle came into focus for me years ago when the congregation I was leading mothered a new church in a nearby community at the same time we were constructing a new worship center. At a board meeting one member protested the idea of a church plant making the cringe-worthy comment, “Why would we give away people and money when we are trying to construct a new building?”
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? The magnet needs to be positioned to the right side of the diagram, pulling the church toward a paradigm of multiplication. So, what is the magnet? It’s church culture.
And how do you move the magnet? A little bit at a time. You move it through preaching, through the core values you adopt and through the ministries you get behind. When you start a small group in a new neighborhood, the magnet moves a little. Every time you put church planting in your budget, the magnet moves a little more.
I hope I have whet your appetite to download and read the book and I hope that it messes with you as much as it did me. Mostly, I pray that our district can move the magnet.