« Previous   |   Main   |   Next »

Multiplication

By Joe Showalter

This article was originally published in The Beacon, June 2017, in the column, “Multiply.”


Multiplication is perfectly natural. Multiplication is totally normal. Multiplication is utterly amazing!

One acorn grows to become an oak that can produce as many as 10,000 acorns in one year, each of which in turn has the potential to produce thousands more. One kernel of corn grows to produce a couple ears, each of which has around 800 kernels on it that can repeat the process.

It’s said that one cat and her offspring have the potential to bear more than 40,000 cats in seven years. That’s scary! But guess how that number compares to what one rabbit and her offspring could potentially bear in seven years. I’m pretty sure you guessed too low. The number is around 95 billion. Thank God that these numbers are theoretical rather than actual!

Humans reproduce much more slowly than rabbits and cats, of course. (Good planning on God’s part!) But we also multiply. The world’s human population continues to grow by another billion every decade or so. No doubt it would be happening even faster if nations and cultures weren’t intentionally trying to limit or at least discourage large families.

Multiplication is a design characteristic all over God’s amazing creation. Of course, not everything in creation multiplies. Rocks don’t multiply, and neither does water. No, multiplication is a fundamental aspect of LIFE. Living things are designed to “be fruitful and multiply.”

“…a healthy, vibrant church will multiply simply because that’s what healthy, living things do.”The church is a living organism, so it’s included in God’s design for multiplication. The church is a family made up of people who’ve been made ALIVE in Christ. So like any family, a healthy, vibrant church will multiply simply because that’s what healthy, living things do. This includes more than just having babies and nurturing them to grow up as part of the church. It also includes spiritual reproduction—making disciples of people who need Jesus, to the ends of the earth.

What is CMC’s history of multiplication? We started in 1910 as a handful of congregations, and today we’re over one hundred. It would not be difficult to list ways, despite our small size, we have had a powerful impact across the church in North America over the past century. In addition, the disciples we’ve made and the local churches we’ve planted in other countries have produced and continue to produce a profound impact in those places. Recently I was part of an interdenominational meeting of leaders serving refugees and immigrants in Columbus when a Vineyard pastor said, “You’re always going to find Mennonites when you’re involved in outreach and missions.” It’s a joy to be part of vibrant life!


Last month in this column, Larry Kaufman encouraged us to ask: What would it look like for our church to radically multiply the gospel in our community and beyond? I’d like to add another question for us to be thinking and talking about: How do we know if we are multiplying at a healthy, God-designed rate?