10 Signs a Church Leader Will Multiply

By Clint Clifton

Most pastors who successfully lead their churches to multiply likely will share these 10 characteristics.

Virtually every pastor I know has a desire to multiply his church but very few actually do. Here are some characteristics I’ve noticed in those leaders who successfully lead their churches to multiply.

The leader comes from a multiplying church. There’s no counterfeit for experiencing firsthand the power of gospel multiplication. Most multiplying leaders I’ve met come from a family of multiplying churches with a strong disciple-making culture. These budding leaders have had great examples to model church and leader multiplication in front of them.

The leader has the the respect of impressive young men and women. It’s hard to multiply leaders if those who have the raw materials to become leaders don’t want to spend any time with you.

The leader knows what to do with them. Not only does he have the respect of young leaders but he invites them to learn more about Christ and is willing to press them on spiritual matters. It’s not just about spending time together but about shaping them into future leaders.

The leader prioritizes activities that lead to multiplication. Leader multiplication is a prerequisite for church multiplication. The regular rhythms of any multiplying leader include initiating relationships with focused, leader-making discipleship as the goal.

The leader avoids “now/later” language. Multiplying leaders don’t chase carrots. Instead, they build in the beginning what they want in the end. You’ll never hear a multiplying leader say, “We’re going to start planting churches when we ….” Instead, they start trying from the very beginning and get better as they go.

The leader has an impulse to begin immediately. I’m not necessarily suggesting that every church planters begin a formal residency immediately when their church begins, I believe the impulse to do so is a good indication they’re serious about multiplication. The church planter who gets my attention is the one who begins identifying future church planters and readying them from the very earliest stages. They will make a lot of mistakes early on – and may even fail at their first few attempts – but they see gospel multiplication as a Great Commission mandate.

The leader will probably lead a modestly sized church. That’s not to say he won’t lead a growing church, it’s just to say that he probably won’t lead megachurch. The skillset required for making and deploying disciples is different from the skillset required to manage a large organization. Multiplying leaders are, by nature, are more focused on scattering than they are gathering.

The leader will be accessible. Church leaders who are stingy with their pulpit, time and expertise will only accidentally and sporadically develop new pastors. If you want to leave a wake of churches behind you, you’ll have to “roll deep” most of the time.

The leader knows the difference between attracting good leaders and developing them. Very few church planters will have the street cred required to naturally attract other good leaders to them. That won’t stop this leader though, he is willing to invest time and energy into those who are “Faithful, Available and Teachable.” This leader will attract good leaders and produce them.

The leader will be wildly optimistic about pastoral potential in others. While most leaders think of their skills as unique and highly refined, a good multiplier will see potential others don’t see. The leader you are looking for is the one who believes that any man can plant a church, all he needs is discipleship.

Published February 23, 2022

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Clint Clifton

Clint Clifton is the founding pastor of Pillar, a multiplying church in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and the senior director of resource and research strategy at the North American Mission Board. He is the author of several books and periodicals on the subject of church planting, including Church Planting Thresholds: A Gospel Centered Church Planting Guide and Church Planting Primer and is the host of the Church Planting podcast.