Nursery or Funeral Home? Four Reasons for Church Multiplication

Alan Hawkins is Rector and Senior Pastor at Church of the Redeemer in North Carolina. As a Church, they are moving from a traditional model to what is sometimes referred to a “mixed economy”, a traditional church that creates opportunities for apostolic pioneers to innovate fresh expressions.

The following is Hawkin’s explanation of why they decided to start another congregation.

At 8.45 am on Sunday morning Janaury 24th, a group of fearless—or maybe crazy—folks will help start this new congregation. We will become one church with multiple congregations. In old fashion terms, we call that a partish.

Why start multiple congregations? Our goal is simple and practical but also profound:

We desire to see more worshippers of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says to woman drawn by the Holy Spirit, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” In an amazing scene, known as “The Woman at the Well,” Jesus describes what God is doing: drawing people all over the world to himself through worship.

Church Multiplication Draws People to God

Our life together starts with worship.

Jesus says to the woman, ‘the Father is seeking such people’. By creating a new place of worship, we are stepping out in faith that the God who loves and has created us all is seeking out more people who will offer praises to his name because he is so good.

Church Multiplication Provides Mercy

We desire to see more acts of mercy and kindness by the Christians of this church to the community.

As a pastor of a growing congregation, I go to bed with an increasingly growing list of needs of people in our city and in our church. There are emotional, spiritual, physical, and lots of financial needs. I can see why many pastors become jaded. They cannot meet these needs and they often feel like they are holding their finger in a bursting dam.

Despite this overwhelming need, I believe that the church has a mission also to “love justice and mercy” (Micah 6.8). A mission to see kindness and love extended.

John Wesley once wrote: “A poor wretch cries to me for an alms: I look and see him covered with dirt and rags. But through these I see one that has immortal spirit, made to know and love and dwell with God to eternity: I honour him for his creator’s sake. I see through all these rags that he is purpled over with the blood of Christ. I love him for the sake of his Redeemer.” (Works of John Wesley, Vol. 3: Sermons 3:71-114. Sermon 100: On Pleasing All Men pp.424-25)

Our acts of mercy and kindness are not pity or charity by identification with our brothers and sisters of humanity. We hope to multiply a kind church is that works toward mercy in our culture of self-gratification.

Church Multiplication Stretches People of Faith

Starting a new parish stretches the faith and endeavor of a people. It puts people’s personal agenda on the line. Am I here because of comfort and gain? Or am I here to serve and give?

Everyone is needed and everyone has to help. It engages the whole person and the whole team.

Church Multiplication Provides “Density”

We desire more spaces and places for people to connect to God. Tim Keller spoke a few years ago and mentioned how ‘tipping point’ change in a culture (or a city) is directly related to the number of Gospel proclaiming church living authentic lives before God.

I am sure Starbucks, which is notorious for having stores right across the street from each other, thought through ‘store-front density’. The church (broadly speaking) needs more healthy places and spaces open for worship and discipleship.

A Nursery or a Funeral Home?

We desire to see a next generation of Christian servant-leaders released into Kingdom work. Would you rather spend time in a nursery or a funeral home? It’s a stark question.

A funeral home is pretty orderly. Everything runs on time. It’s pretty quiet and peaceful as well.

A nursery is a place of chaos and emergency. There is always a need. It does not usually go as planned. Babies don’t fall asleep exactly on schedule.

Yet – I’d rather be in a place of life and excitement even if it is a little rambunctious!



Alan Hawkins


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