Our Big Deal is to create a culture of multiplication.

March 10-11, 2018
Pastor Joe Wittwer
The X-Factor
#1—Create a Culture of Multiplication


I love our church! I love what we’re doing with our internships and NWLC! I hope you’ll check that out.

I love our worship! We are blessed with such a great team that leads us well. You help me express my love to God! Thank you!

I love our staff! Didn’t Pastor David do a great job of wrapping up the #MeToo series last Sunday? We have such gifted, devoted leaders here at Life Center. Our future is bright!

I love our Easter services, and we are only three weeks away from Easter! It’s going to be fun! Woohoo! Reference card.

We will offering six identical Easter services on:

March 30, Friday at 7

March 31, Saturday at 4 and 6

April 1, Sunday at 9, 11 and 1.

I hope that many of you will come to one, and serve at another—it takes hundreds of volunteers to pull this off. You can sign up to serve at the Welcome Center, or on our app, or on our website: www.lifecenter.net/easter.

And we hope that all of you will bring a friend with you. Easter is one of those times when people are more open to an invitation to come to church, so be bold and make the invite! Our theme is “Back to God.” Jesus came to find us and bring us back to God. Who do you know that needs to come back to God? Be bold and make the invite—it might change someone’s life! Forever!

We’re also going to be baptizing at all six services. If you haven’t been baptized yet and want to sign up to baptized on Easter, there will be a brief baptism meeting after all three services on the last weekend in March.

Last Sunday, I was on the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage with four African American leaders from Spokane—this is a picture of two of my friends, Rodney and Lonnie, standing on either side of Representative John Lewis, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where John Lewis was brutally beaten 53 years ago in the first Selma march for voting rights. John Lewis is a civil rights legend—it was an amazing experience to do this trip with him! More stories in weeks to come.

Today we start a three week series called “The X-Factor”. What is the X-Factor?

  • How many of you watched the TV show with Simon Cowell? I’m not talking about that.
  • The X-factor is a phrase that refers to a quality you can’t describe that makes someone special—sometimes called “it”. I’m not talking about that.
  • In algebra, a single unknown is usually designated by an X. X + 9= 25. I’m not talking about that.
  • In mathematic equations, an X means “multiply”. 10 X 5=50. That’s what I’m talking about—the X-Factor is the power of multiplication.

For the next three weeks, I want to share with you Our Big Deal this year: the X-Factor, the power of multiplication. Our Big Deal is to create a culture of multiplication. I want to cast a vision for being followers of Jesus who multiply at every level. Today I’m going to unpack the what and why—and I’ll spend more time on the why.

Offering here.

  1. What: Create a culture of multiplication.

What do we mean “create a culture of multiplication?” We mean that we need to multiply at every level. If we are to accomplish the mission Jesus gave us, we need to switch from addition to multiplication. We can’t just add followers of Jesus—we need to multiply them. We can’t just add leaders—we need to multiply them. We can’t just add churches—we need to multiply them.

ILL: Ask two volunteers up. Would you rather have a penny or $1000? You’d be crazy not to take the $1000!

But what if I offered you $1000 every week for 52 weeks? Or offered to give you one penny the first week, and each week double the previous week’s amount? One cent, two cents, four cents, doubling each week. Which do you want?

The first is addition—I add $1000 a week—and you get $52,000.

The second is multiplication—double the amount each week—and in week 52, (not the total amount accumulated over 52 weeks) the amount would be $22,517,998,136,852.48.

Over $22 trillion! That’s the X-Factor—the power of multiplication over addition.

In the first few centuries of her life, the church of Jesus grew like this—multiplying and spreading like a wildfire across the Roman Empire. Jesus’ church continues to grow like this—not just adding, but multiplying—in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But in Europe, North America and Australia, we are not growing at all, but shrinking.

  • Today, fewer than 20 percent of Americans attend church regularly, and the number is shrinking.
  • Half of all churches in America did not add a single person through conversion last year.
  • One hundred years ago, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans, and today there are only 11 churches per 10,000.[1]
  • Each year, between 4-7000 churches in America will close. [2]

Instead of multiplying, we’re losing ground. As we’ll see in point two, Jesus calls us to make disciples of everyone everywhere. We are called to multiply, and to do that, we need to start thinking and acting like multipliers.

What do we mean “create a culture of multiplication?” Simply put, we want to embed the value of multiplication in every part of our church culture. We want to multiply at every level.

  • We want to multiply disciples—followers of Jesus. Our mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. Everything we do is bent to this mission. But if we stop here, we are adding but not multiplying. So…
  • We want to multiply disciple-makers—people who help others find and follow Jesus. Every Jesus-follower helps others find and follow Jesus, who help others find and follow Jesus who help others find and follow Jesus. We want to equip you to not only be a disciple, but to be a disciple who makes disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples—think rabbits! In fact, we really haven’t made a disciple until that person has made a disciple, because that’s what disciples do. They multiply. More about this next week.
  • We want to multiply leaders and apprentices and coaches. We want every leader to have an apprentice and a coach. Every leader is not only leading but developing other leaders—they are multiplying leaders.
  • We want to multiply Rooted groups and Life Groups. We ask every Rooted group facilitator to identify those in their group who could facilitate a group, and we want every Life Group leader to have an apprentice who could lead a Life Group. Every group is multiplying.
  • We want to multiply churches and sites. We have planted churches and have a network of 18 daughter and granddaughter churches. Just in the last two months, three of our daughter churches multiplied: one started a new church in Addy, another started a new site here in town, and a third started a new church in the Valley. We want to pour gas on that fire, and multiply more churches and sites so that we can help more people find and follow Jesus.
  • We want to multiply networks of multiplying churches. This is a new endeavor. In April, I’m joining three other church planting pastors here in town to go to Chicago for a day of training in how to start and lead a network of churches that plant churches. Our plan is that each of us will start a network when we return—starting four networks at once—and each network will work together to multiply churches and networks—so that we can help more people find and follow Jesus.

We want to create a culture of multiplication; we want to multiply at every level. We want to think X not +.

That’s the what; here’s the why—this is the compelling part.

  1. Why: To fulfill our God-given mission.

Why do we need the X Factor? Why must we think multiplication? To fulfill our God-given mission. We—our church and the Church (Capital C all over the world) and every Jesus-follower, including you—we all have been given this mission. It’s our mission; it’s my mission and it’s your mission too. Let’s unpack the Scriptures.

Matthew 28:18–20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We call this the Great Commission. It is Jesus’ last words to His followers before He left, and He gives us our mission. There are four verbs in the Great Commission: go, make disciples, baptize and teach. One of them is the primary verb—it is imperative in mood, a command. The others are participles—verbal adjectives that explain the main verb, and usually translated with an -ing ending. So what’s the main verb? Make disciples. That’s the command: make disciples. The other three verbs tell how: in all your going, make disciples, baptizing and teaching them.   Make disciples! Help people find and follow Jesus. That’s our mission. And Jesus adds one more qualifier: make disciples of all nations. Make disciples of every race, every ethnicity, every nation—everyone everywhere. Take this good news around the world and tell everyone. If we’re going to do that, we need to multiply!

The Great Commission has been the impetus for 20 centuries of missionary work around the world. Millions of Christians have left their homes, their cultures, their families and friends and taken the good news of Jesus around the world. But it starts at home. Our mission begins right here in Spokane, in our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools, our workplaces. It starts here.

ILL: When I was in high school, some of my fellow students in our youth group were talking about being missionaries. I was stunned—because as far as I knew, they weren’t sharing Jesus with anyone at our school. Why would you fly around the world to share Jesus if you weren’t willing to walk across the hall to do it? It’s got to start at home!

Jesus says that same thing in Luke’s version of the Great Commission.

Acts 1:6–8 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Did you notice their question for Jesus? “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Their vision was way too small. They were still thinking that the kingdom of God was the same as the kingdom of Israel. They weren’t thinking “of all nations” or “the ends of the earth.” They were only thinking of themselves and their people—those like them. Jesus is about to blow up their small vision.

This is one of the reasons we don’t think about multiplying—our vision is too small, too self-centered. “For God so loved the world.” That’s God’s vision. “For Joe so loved himself…and his family…and a few close friends.” That’s often my vision. Isn’t that how we tend to think?

ILL: Once after a message like this when I had said that we are a church for others, a church that exists for the people who aren’t here and need to know Jesus, someone said to me, “What about us? What about those of us already here?” It’s a fair question, and I assured her that we wanted to help her and everyone else already here to follow Jesus. But I also thought that her question sounded a lot like the disciples, “What about us? What about restoring the kingdom of Israel?” We’ve got to get past ourselves.

Jesus blows up our small thinking. What if being a Christian isn’t just about you—your salvation, you going to heaven, you having a better life—but about the whole world, everyone else around you? Yes, Jesus is for you—and Jesus is for everyone. It can’t stop with you or me.

The Holy Spirit will fill us with power—power to be Jesus’ witnesses. What does a witness do? A witness tells what they know, tells what they’ve seen or heard or experienced. We are Jesus’ witnesses. I’ll talk more about this next week, but I just want to say that it’s not hard to talk about Jesus. Most people admire Jesus. When we simply point people to Jesus—not our church, not our religion, not our doctrine, just Jesus—most people will listen. I’ve got some fun stories about this—next week. Ok…here’s one as a teaser.

ILL: There were 29 members of Congress on the pilgrimage last week, I had wonderful conversations with several of them. One conversation went like this: we were talking about the importance of bringing Republicans and Democrats together to listen and work together. I said, “That’s one of the things I love about being a follower of Jesus—He is all about bringing people together.”

She said, “I’m not a Christian. And I’m curious why you would say that.” I told her, “Jesus came to bring us back to God, and to bring us back together with each other—to break down the walls that separate us. He said the most important thing is that we love God with all we’ve got—heart, soul, mind and strength—and that we love our neighbor as ourselves.”

She said, “I like that.” I replied, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Jesus. That’s why I talk about following Jesus rather than being a Christian.”

She looked surprised, “You’re not a Christian?”

“Of course I’m a Christian. But when I lead with that, what do people think? They often think, ‘Oh you’re against this and this and this.’ ‘Christian’ has a lot of negative baggage for some people—Jesus doesn’t. And really, to be a Christian is simply to follow Jesus. And I love following Jesus. So that’s where I like to start.”

She said, “I’ve never heard that before.”

Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses.” Where? “In Jerusalem, Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

  • Jerusalem was where they were; our Jerusalem is Spokane.
  • Judea was the region around Jerusalem; our Judea would be Washington State, or the Northwest, or even the US. Still our people.
  • Samaria was the next region over and the people there were of a different race and religion—not their people. Our Samaria could be the next-door nations of Canada or Mexico, or it could be the people who are different from us that are living next door. These are not our people. We’ve moved beyond our people group—beyond our comfort zone.
  • The ends of the earth was, and still is the whole world.   Everyone! Love everyone always. Take the good news of Jesus to everyone!

Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus of all nations, starting right where we are and moving out to the ends of the earth. It starts at home but doesn’t end there. Jesus is for everyone. And to reach everyone, we have to think X not +; we have to multiply. One more classic multiply Scripture from Paul to Timothy.

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

There are four generations here: Paul—>Timothy—>reliable people—>others. Paul shared Jesus with Timothy. He was to share Jesus with reliable people who would share Jesus with others. The gospel was passed on from person to person. But look again at what Timothy is to do:

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

He is to entrust this message to reliable people. That word “entrust” jumped out at me! To entrust something means you are trusting another person with something valuable, and you expect them to care for it or do something with it.

  • I entrust a financial planner with some money each month to invest for me. I expect him to do something with it, to invest it wisely and make me filthy rich!
  • Laina and I entrust our dog, Mazy, to a young couple who cares for her while we’re gone. We expect them to take good care of her.
  • Before I left town, I met with Pastor David and entrusted a message with him. It was an important message, and I expected him to deliver it well last weekend—and he did. He crushed it!

God has entrusted you with an important message, a message of incredible value: the gospel, the good news of Jesus! God expects us to do something with it—to pass it on to reliable people who can pass it on to others.

Each week I try to give you a word from God, a message about Jesus from God’s word. I’m entrusting you with something valuable. What if the message you hear isn’t just for you, isn’t supposed to stop with you? What are you doing with it? Are you living it? I’ve entrusted it to you. Are you sharing it—entrusting it to others who can pass it on?

I want to be one of those reliable people who pass the gospel on to others. And I’m praying that you are one of those reliable people too—that God entrusts His message with you and you’re taking that trust seriously. Pass Jesus on! Multiply! Fulfill your mission!

Why the X-Factor? Why multiply? To fulfill our God-given mission. Let me finish by making it personal.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Without Jesus, people perish. Who do you know that is perishing? Without Jesus, we perish. We perish now—a life without Jesus is so much less than the life God intended for you. Jesus said:

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus came to bring you life to the full. Eternal life doesn’t start when you die; it starts the moment you begin to follow Jesus. It’s a life that’s full now, and lasts forever—eternal in both quality and quantity. Without Jesus, you miss out on that life—you are perishing, dying, missing out on life.

Who do you know that is perishing? It might be you. In just a moment, when we pray, I’ll give you a chance to say yes to Jesus and you can start a new life. I was perishing once, and Jesus gave me life. I told you a couple weeks ago that I grew up in a home that was troubled by alcohol-fueled abuse. This week, I thanked God again that Jesus rescued me from that cycle of alcohol and abuse. I thought, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus! I’m so grateful! I’m alive in Jesus, and not perishing.

Who do you know that is perishing? Jesus wants to give them new life and He has entrusted you with the good news that can set them free. Let’s pray.

Pray for the person you love who is perishing.

Pray for those in the room who are perishing.

New to Life Center? Have questions? Want to get involved? Stop by the Welcome Center.

Want to pray with someone? Come down front.

[1]Ferguson, Dave; Ferguson, Jon. Exponential: How to Accomplish the Jesus Mission (Kindle Locations 164-183). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-mcswain/why-nobody-wants-to-go-to_b_4086016.html

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Create a Culture of Multiplication