by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/30/19.
Terms describing “church multiplication” are tossed around with such frequency, that leaders are often confused about how to differentiate a planted church, a reproducing church and a multiplying church.
The best definition for a “multiplying church” comes from my friends Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird in their book “Viral Churches.”
A “multiplying church:”
A church multiplication movement is a rapid reproduction rate of 50% through the third generation of churches, with new churches having 50% new converts. To achieve such momentum, churches would need to plant, on average, a new church every two years with each church reaching at least half its attendees from the unchurched community.”
Stetzer and Bird, Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (San Franscisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010), p. 116.
A “reproducing church” would be, by definition and comparison, a congregation that is planting daughter congregations, but not with the frequency of a “multiplying church.”
A “planted church” would, by definition, be a church that has been nurtured by a mother congregation.
A “venue/campus church” shares some commonalities and dissimilarities with a “planted church” and you can read a comparison here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/multiplication-5-reasons-churches-should-balance-their-internal-external-church-planting/
Tom Bennardo in his excellent book, “The Honest Guide to Church Planting (Zondervan, 2019, p. 119) sums up the differences:
Good Planting a Church
Better Planting a Reproducing Church
Best Planting a Multiplying Church
I’ve listed further resources for church planting here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/church-planting-cost-effective-alternatives-to-the-customary-planting-strategies/
And this is how my colleague C. Peter Wagner is often misquoted about church planting (and what he really meant): https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/church-planting-why-an-emphasis-upon-conversion-is-the-best-way-to-grow-the-church-petewagner/