Our Vision : Reproducible (part 2)

When I posted yesterday, I said I wanted to share about why, at least in my thinking, being truly reproducible has been a bit of a challenge. And I’m really wrestling with getting this into words. And while I’m wrestling with getting this into words, my wife is working like crazy packing up our house…(I’m […]

by bob

Jun 13, 2012

When I posted yesterday, I said I wanted to share about why, at least in my thinking, being truly reproducible has been a bit of a challenge.

And I’m really wrestling with getting this into words. And while I’m wrestling with getting this into words, my wife is working like crazy packing up our house…(I’m trying not to feel too guilty, but it isn’t working well).

So I want to throw out one idea and I’d love to hear from you as to why you think it is difficult for churches to reproduce what they are doing on a regular basis. (or if you totally disagree with my premise, let me know that.)

Again, using the church I started as an example…with this plant in Dublin upcoming, we will have planted 2 churches in 13 years. Now, I used the words “regular basis” because they are intentionally vague…however, I’m pretty sure that 1 every 6.5 years does not qualify as regular.

For me, the biggest hinderance to being reproducible was finding people who could do all of the stuff a church planter was supposed to do. They often need to be a bit super human… They need to be able to cast vision, evangelize, recruit, train new people, teach, administrate, market, lead small groups, set up systems, oversee finances… and the list actually goes on a bit longer, but you get the idea. And for the first few years, they usually need to be bi-vocational as well. (Not only is that a challenge to being reproducible, not the most sustainable process either.)

The guy who planted out of our church in Wellsboro PA, was a retired CEO with an MBA from Cornell before church planting.

My thought is, what if the bar was lowered? Now, not in character or godliness, spiritual formation…I’d actually like to see that bar raised a bit. But lowered in the job description? What if what was expected of the planter was much less than it is now? What if what was expected form a lead pastor was much less? What if rather than going out on their own, they were more part of a network of related churches? What if you had a model where someone could be bi-vocational for years, while pastoring/leading a church and feel energized rather than burnt-out?

I’m still working this out…it’s more of a conversation I’m having with friends over a meal rather than a well written concept at this point.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you had on why reproducing can be a challenge…or if any of my random questions struck a chord with you.

What about Bob?


I grew up in Western New York and have started and led missional church planting efforts for a little over 30 years. As you might gather, I have opinions about the church, and I share some of them here.

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  1. Thebaggott

    I humbly think you are using an old model. Churches don’t reproduce, disciples do. Disciples become church under the leading and anointing of the holy spirit. Don’t worry about planting a church. Go make disciples by sharing your life. Jesus said ” Go make disciples., not churches.
    I believe in Ireland the trust and faith you establish one on one will be the key.
    Glad to discuss

    • bob__wilson

      I agree 100%.  I read recently (paraphrase) “If you make disciples, you will have a church…if you build a church, there is is no guarantee you’ll have disciples.”

      The model we used in Ithaca is not one we’ll use in Dublin.  Love to discuss more…however it is 10:30 and we are still packing…and my brain is a bit fried:-) if you’re out this way soon I’d love to grab a meal.  

      I do hope to put some more details up as to what we’re thinking as things slow down here.

  2. Joshua Hopping

    Talk about tackling the small issues. =P

    In a broad sense I agree with you. Sometimes we get so caught up in looking for that one special person who has the perfect gift mix to go start a new gathering of Jesus Followers in another town or location. Yet, this view places a huge pressure on the ‘church planter’ – like you mentioned above. Seeing that we are all suppose to be part of the greater body, I think there is something to be said about a team approach to church planting as the gift mix is spread out among multiple  people. As I write this, I can’t help but think about Steven Hamilton and the Pittsburgh team as they are following this approach (most likely Steven is one of your ‘friends’ you are talking too!) =D

    On the other hand, there are folks like St. Paul who went out with just one other friend (Silas or Barnabas) and started a ton of churches… In the end, I guess it all comes down to what Jesus is doing at that time and place. We need to use all models as they each have their strengths and weakness.

    oh, by the way, I think one of the biggest hindrance to being reproducible isn’t necessary finding folks who can do it the stuff as it is finding people are willing to move to another location to do the stuff. It is the idea that God can have all of me as long as I can continue to live in the same house I’m currently living in and work at the same job… 

  3. bob__wilson

    And getting people to move to another country…especially one where it isn’t easy to get in, is an additional challenge. 

    Another thing about Paul though is he never seems to have taken on the role of pastor…he got the church started & then passed it on to someone else who was gifted as a pastor…We now, for the most part stick everyone who starts a church into the role of pastor. 

    • Joshua Hopping

      Good point..

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