Doubling Bob Roberts / Northwoods Style
nothing like the power of an example. For this reason, I try to find
for you great examples of churches that have embraced the vision of
groups growing and dividing, growing and dividing, growing and
Bob Roberts at
Northwoods Church (North suburbs of Fort Worth, TX) is doubling in
Bob caught the
vision of doubling groups from Thom Wolf, former pastor of The
Church on Brady. (If you are familiar with the name Erwin Raphael
McManus, he followed Thom and changed the name of that church to
to Thom and staff member Carol Davis, Bob had always thought
addition: how to grow his church. After a conversation with Thom and
Carol, Bob began thinking multiplication: how to multiply churches.
He came to understand that church planting should be as natural as
evangelism or discipleship or children's ministry. Instead of being
the biggest church in the area, they began to dream of churching the
whole area. They began to think multiplication instead of mere
planted a church, three miles to the East, and another four miles to
the West. Today, eight daughter churches encircle the main campus.
In addition to the 2,000 that attend their main campus, they now
have 5,000 who attend these daughter congregations.
they have started churches all over the area, and all over the
world, totaling over 80 churches that they have either started or a
church that they stated has started. They now have grand-daughter
and great-grand-daughter churches with a total of 30,000 in worship
every single week. Last year, 3,600 people were in church that were
not in church the year before because of this movement.
All that is
from the book. I heard Bob speak recently and he gave an update on
their progress. This last year they and their network of daughter
churches planted seventy-five additional churches in one year.
Thus is the
nature of multiplication growth. It doesn't look like much at first.
A group that is on pace to double every two years or less might grow
from 10 to 14 in a year. It doesn't look like much--growing from 10
to 14. But, if you can do that slightly faster--10 to 14 in 9 months
and double every 18 months you can reach 1000 people in ten years.
The second ten years gets really interesting.
It didn't look
like much when Northwoods started that first church. Or the second.
But as you keep multiplying, the exponential effect starts to kick
The need for new churches
1,300 churches successfully start each year.
3,700 churches close each year.
there is a net loss of 2400 each year in America even as the
population continues to grow.
The side benefit of church
embrace a vision for multiplying church planting receive an
incredible side benefit at the small group level. I started this
article speaking of the value of an example. Churches that start
churches are an incredible example to their people when it comes
time to divide groups. Churches that start churches can say with
integrity, "We are giving people away to start new groups; you
should give people away to start new groups."
When will I be ready to do
I cannot remember the source
of this next little fact. I suspect it came from one of the Acts 29
audios I listened to recently. See
They did a survey where they asked churches of all sizes when they
think they will be strong enough and ready to start new churches.
Churches at 100 said 125. Churches at 200 said 250. Churches at 1000
said 1250. Everybody said, "About 25% bigger than we are now."
This rings true in my
experience. In talking to group leaders over the years about
starting new groups, often the response was not to say "NO" or
refuse to start a new group. it was, "not now." "When, then?" I
would follow up. Usually, the answer was about 25% bigger.
There is a world of
difference between the attitude of the person who is willing to
start a new group when he has to and might be willing to actually do
it (though, somewhat reluctantly) when the group is 25% bigger than
it is now, and the person who eagerly wants his group to grow and
divide and grow and divide grow and divide. The former is asking,
"When do I have to do this?" if he is thinking about it at all. The
later is thinking, "How quickly can I do this?"
One of the key ingredients
in instilling this kind of attitude is leadership by example. If the
leadership of the church has embraced the vision of growing and
dividing, growing and dividing, growing and dividing, and is
modeling that for the congregation, we have a very good chance that
they will get it.
Northwoods Church in Keller,
TX provides an outstanding example of one church that is doing just