I’d like to talk about something that we don’t often speak of in the church and that is pace or speed or tempo. Now I think there are some reasons that we don’t talk about it.
First of all, we have the impression that if something happens fast, it will be of lower quality, and certainly this can be true. You know the old maxim ‘haste makes waste’ can certainly be true.
But it’s not necessarily true.
There are some things that if they happen faster, it actually improves the quality and that’s the type of pace we’re interested in increasing. We’re not interested in multiplying mediocrity. We’re not interested in multiplying a bad product. We’re not interested in multiplying weak disciples. But if we can find a way to increase the pace of disciple making and disciple multiplication without hurting the quality of the fruit, we are interested in that.
A second reason, I think we don’t talk much about pace in the church is because we rightly believe that eternal things are the most important. God himself, His word, the souls of men … these are eternal things and these are of greater importance than temporal things.
Whenever we’re talking about pace, we’re talking about temporal matters, but there’s something that we need to remember, that is, that the eternal destiny of eternal souls is determined in time.
A little over one non-christian per second passes into a Christless eternity. This pace does not slow down when we’re asleep or when we’re on vacation or anytime … it just keeps going.
Now the church globally today is larger than it has ever been before, and it’s the largest percentage of global population that it has ever been before, but the growth of the church is still not quite keeping up with population growth. Meaning there are more non-christians alive today than have ever been in existence before.
We are not keeping up with population growth and our generation of disciples is responsible for this generation of souls. The status quo is not sufficient, pace matters.
Every one of those souls entering a Christless eternity is in a sense robbing God of some of his glory. Now there’s no doubt he will be glorified in the punishment of his enemies as in the redemption of those who acknowledge and worship Him. This is true. But even in the Old Testament, we’re told that God does not delight in the death of any man. In the New Testament, we’re told God is not willing that any should perish. He desires all to come to repentance.
Now in the end, everyone will acknowledge him as Lord — some willingly in grateful worship and some reluctantly as defeated foes. They’ll all acknowledge that God’s stated preference is for all to repent and for all to love and worship Him willingly. He is not happy about those people dying apart from him. That’s why pace matters. It greatly matters.
About twenty years ago now, I was thinking about this and for some reason my mind reverted to the natural world and I started thinking about elephants and rabbits. There’s a reason why I was thinking about these.
I was representing slow and fast multiplication.
I did a little research. I found out that between the age when elephants reach sexual maturity, their gestation period, how many babies per pregnancy they had, and how often the females were in heat … that elephants — and even if you start with an adult pair — it still takes you three years to go from two to three elephants.
Whereas rabbits: if you start with an adult pair, in three years you potentially could have 476 million rabbits.
Now this never happens because overcrowding, lack of food, bad hygiene, lack of water, predators — you know — all of these things, so that ideal potential is never reached. But it gives you an idea that indeed rabbits multiply a lot faster than elephants.
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These same types of factors are true about simple churches, as compared with rabbits, and the larger, more traditional, legacy churches that we think of when we think of church — that really function more like a city or regional church — those are more akin to elephants.
So the ease of reproduction is vastly different between these two types of churches.
Now we want elephants and rabbits. We don’t want a world without elephants. But right now we’re in a world where we have quite a few elephants and very few rabbits. And that is not the balance of nature. The balance of nature is you have more of the smaller creatures that reproduce more quickly.
So how can we — or what is the impact — when we see rapid multiplication. In places where we see rapid multiplication: we see the darkness being pushed back, we see progress being made for the kingdom, we see where the kingdom is growing far faster than population growth … and we need to see that in many many more places around the world.
The impact of multiplication can be seen in this chart. In this chart it’s looking at a period of ten years and the numbers along the top indicate the average reproduction rate in months.
So if a church reproduces on average every 18 months in ten years. You’ll have 64 churches. If it reproduces on average every 12 months, in ten years you’ll have over a thousand churches. If every nine months, in ten years you’ll have over 8,000 churches. If the average reproduction rate is six months, you would have over a million churches in ten years. And if it were four months, you’d have over a billion.
Now this has never happened, because if it did in ten years you would have more than the entire population of the earth in these simple churches.
Let’s say if there were an average of eight people per simple church … that’s still 8 billion people.
So kind of like the rabbits, that never happens. But I’ve seen over a period of 10 years there be a nine-month average reproduction rate in Atheist, Animist, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, and secular environments. In other words, pretty much every general type of spiritual or religious environment.
I’ve seen that pace for church multiplication maintained for ten years. In two cases — one in southeast China and one in the nation of India — over a period of ten years — I’ve seen a six-month average reproduction rate resulting in a million simple churches.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit a lot of things have to go right for that, but the nine-month average reproduction rate is very plausible. Here I want you to know the difference between an 18-month and a four-month reproduction rate and its impact over a period of 10 years is not the difference between like four or five times more impactful … it’s more than one and a half million times as impactful.
It’s an exponential increase in pace for even small changes in the average reproduction rate.
So if we can find ways to increase the pace of multiplying good fruit, it will have incredible impacts on the spiritual landscape. It will have a huge impact on the extension and expansion of the kingdom and this is something that we do need to be concerned about.
Time really does matter. Pace, speed, and tempo matter.
More Multiplication Concepts
This concept is part of the “Multiplication Concepts” series by Curtis Sergeant. Consider working through the entire series and challenging someone you know to do it with you. See an entire list of the concepts in the article titled “Multiplication Concepts”.
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