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Exponential by Dave Ferguson

by Dave Ferguson

Napkins are rarely important unless you are the Amazon founder who mapped out his company on a summer drive on one or Dave Ferguson who began a movement of Church’s on his.  It was on a napkin, with a map of Chicago drawn on it with circles indicating where churches could be placed, that was the beginning of Community Church. It is one of the largest church networks in America, with campus’ all over Chicago and the midwest.  Dave Ferguson, in his book Exponential, casts the vision for multisite churches and provides the methodology in which Community took to cause that vision to become a reality.

As noted above, the vision for Community as a multi-site Church began on a napkin, but the physical reproduction of Churches began with their reproduction of leaders.  Solid leadership has led Community to where it is now.  The first section of this book focuses on the leadership path that Community takes all of its leaders on.  The Exponential team uses the term “apprentice” for all the people they train to lead ministries and campuses.  Dave breaks this process down into 5 stages to show how easy it is to equip someone for leadership.  They are:

  1. I do.  You watch.  We talk.
  2. I do.  You help.  We talk.
  3. You do.  I help.  We talk.
  4. You do. I watch. We talk.
  5. You do. Someone else watches.

Ferguson points out that creating reproducing churches is bigger than just finding leadership from the pulpit but also in the arts.  He devotes one full chapter to training, leading, and empowering artists…a facet largely neglected by churches today.  He says that this is is the second most important thing to do (after reproducing leaders) in creating a missional movement.

The next section of the book is largely concerned with reproducing small groups.  Small groups is where Ferguson sees people become 3C followers of Jesus (meaning those who Celebrate, Connect, and Contribute).  Within their small group paradigm each facet of the sold-out follower of Christ (the 3C’s) is exercised.  Like their Churches, each group is begun with the expressed purpose of reproducing itself.  This comes forward in the apprenticing of Small group leaders that Community has turned into an art.

The final section of the book focuses on the reproduction of sites.  When Community began, it started with the vision and purpose of reproducing.  This idea was at the forefront of their decision and planning.  This, in itself, is part of what makes their schema work.  They are committed to reproducing.  Though it happened quicker than they thought (137), they have now reproduced enough to provide their process to starting another site.  In this section, Ferguson points out the advantages of a multi-site church over planting a new church, and in doing so really helped me to understand how a multi-site church could answer a lot of questions in my own area.

I loved every page of this book.  It was sparsly sourced and at times a little too “trendy” for what I would like, but there was challenge after challenge and bits of wisdom after wisdom that helped put much of my career and frustrations in ministry in prospective.  I want to work for a guy like Dave who has a passion and purspose, vision and drive.  I hope to utalize much of his apprenticing advice and method in my own line of work.

I give it an 9/10!



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