Viral Churches is one of the most important books I’ve read in a long time and could possibly become a church planting classic. It’s message is so simple – “multiply everything.”
The book is filled with myth busting information such as 68% of all church plants are still in existence after four years; or 70% of new plants gain financial independence by year five; or that more churches are being planted each year (4,000) than are closing (3500). But that’s not why this is such an important book.
The reason for its importance is the way the authors bang away at moving from addition to multiplication and how that might happen in the West with the goal being the beginning of a sustained church planting movement in the U.S. In search of the “Holy Grail of church planting” (a movement) the authors develop a new scorecard for measuring the success of church planting that goes beyond the usual measurements. I’ll leave it to you to discover the items of the new scorecard, but here is the primary hint – you measure the success of a church by how much change it causes to happen in its community and world not how big the church becomes.
I jotted down a few of my thoughts generated by the new measurements. The new scorecard requires a shift from
- focusing on church size to focusing on an abundance of churches;
- “build it and they will come” to “send them and they will change the neighborhood and world”;
- “what’s your worship attendance” to “how many churches have you planted?”
- evangelism or social justice to evangelism and social justice;
- control to permission-giving;
- delegation to empowerment;
- maintenance to risk-taking;
- institutional to organic.
Viral Churches is like a breath of fresh air because it breaks new ground. It’s one of the few so far must reads of 2010.