4 Reasons Churches Don’t Multiply

By Clint Clifton

While pastors today have a positive demeanor toward church planting in their communities, you still can hear four common excuses for not leading a church to multiply.

Church leaders 20 years ago were hostile to the idea of church planting. Today pastors have a positive demeanor toward church planting in their communities. When church planters are sent out, they have the intention to multiply the churches they begin in the first few years through residency, internships, etc.

Yet there are common excuses from pastors about why they don’t lead their churches to multiply. Here are four:

1. We don’t have the people to send
Some leaders would consider starting a new church only when all ministries are adequately staffed. However, few understaffed ministries within the church are more important (higher priority) than the Great Commission. It’s not necessary and not even attainable to be a perfect church in order to spread and share the gospel.

2. We don’t have the money
Church planting is only expensive because we believe church planting has to be complete with a “five-piece band” or a sophisticated infrastructure to build upon. But how much does it actually cost to share the gospel with your neighbor or meet in your living room? Church planting is about making, baptizing and teaching disciples of Jesus – all of which are absolutely free! Using money in ministry isn’t bad; it enhances ministry. But money is not required to raise leaders or multiply churches. The vast majority of pastors in the world are volunteer and bi-vocational. Yet somehow they are able to conduct ministry with little to no money.

3. Our people aren’t ready
It is legitimate to not look to your congregation because of their lack of maturity. However, our priority as leaders is to get the congregation ready for multiplication. Mission is the center design of our church. Ephesians 4:12 – equipping the saints for ministry – should be the job description of every pastor.

4. We don’t feel led to plant churches
If you don’t feel led to plant churches, it’s possible that you’re mistaking the desires of your own ministry for God’s desires expressed in his Word. God makes it clear that we are to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Let’s press into the mission of God! Do everything you can to focus your attention on spreading the gospel by multiplying through a new church.

Adapted from the Sending Church Masterclass, which provides training and development for kingdom-minded leaders and churches. Understand your church’s role and get practical help reaching the nations with the gospel, one church at a time. To start the class, click here.


Published May 1, 2023

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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.