In this episode of the Church Planting Podcast, Dave Ferguson of New Thing and Community Christian Church, talks with Greg about why multiplying leaders is so important for the success of a church plant.

Dave Ferguson

Dave Ferguson is an award-winning author, founding and lead pastor of Chicago’s Community Christian Church, a missional multi-site community considered one of the most influential churches in America. Dave also provides visionary leadership for New Thing, an international church-planting movement, and is president of the Exponential Conference.

Multiplying Disciples as a Success Factor

  • If you can’t make disciples, why bother planting a church? 
  • Disciple-making is the ultimate measure of effectiveness. 
  • An effective church planter doesn’t just make disciples – he or she makes disciples that make disciples that make disciples. Jesus’ model is multiplication.

Why is Multiplication So Important?

Multiplication is the way to movement, and movement is how we’re going to achieve the vision Jesus laid out for us.


What I Wish I’d Known

You’re going to reproduce who you are. If you want to see disciples multiply disciples and leaders multiply leaders, it needs to start with you, the primary culture-creator. Think in terms of multiplying at the smallest level (the people you personally disciple) AND the largest level of your organizational capacity. Your staff will do the work in the middle.


How To Discern Who to Disciple

Look for people that you like, especially with a small group! If I’m going to meet with someone on a regular basis, we need to be able to become friends.
Look for someone who can actually lead. Especially in the large levels of discipleship, look for people who can lead whole networks.


Intentional Steps to Discipleship

Establish relational rhythms. 
Life-on-life apprenticeship. Meet every week formally and meet once weekly outside of that just to be together and catch up. Small group leader discipleship works well in groups of 2-3 – it’s a better catalyst for conversation and growth.


How To Embed Multiplication in the Culture

Start with that mindset from day one! But it’s not like you embed it in your DNA once and you’re done. Every ministry season, we set key objectives, and everything we do focuses on those. One of those for the past few years has been the increase in number of apprentice leaders, because we recognized that if we didn’t stay on top of it, it wouldn’t happen on it’s own. Make sure it’s a metric on your dashboard.
Multiplication comes up in some form every week. It could be a reference in a story, a celebration of a new church, talking about New Thing and its impact – but it comes up in some way. 
We also celebrate the value as a staff team by giving out value awards each month. (The staff can nominate folks for that award, and then one person combines the nominations, and they get an award at the all-staff meeting each month).



  1. Multiplication Thinking: For most leaders, a big dream catalyzes multiplication thinking. Like Jesus in Acts 1:8, hero-makers have a mindset that there is something bigger that God called them to do, and they can’t do it themselves, so they need to do it through other people.
  2. Permission Giving: The four most important letters in the alphabet are “I C N U” – I see something in you. If God has put you in a role of leadership as a church planter, if you could intentionally have one ICNU conversation every day, you give permission for people to be everything that God meant for them to be. This could be with your kids, young emerging leaders, or leaders of any age. Hero-making leaders specifically give permission to emerging leaders to be what God’s made them to be by saying, “I see this in you.” Many times, the folks who have not had someone reach out to them to say I see something in you are women. Speak into the lives of young women with leadership skills as well as men!


Developing Female Leaders as a Male Leader

Of course, you have to be smart about discipling a woman, but just by using your regular discretion. But this is normal in the business world, and should be normal in church world, too. If a woman has leadership giftings, anyone who sees those giftings should be able to disciple that woman!


The Internal Life of a Multiplying Leader

The surest sign of spiritual maturity is gratitude.
The first expression of your church and your movement stats with your family. If your relationship with God and your family isn’t working, eventually everything else is going to get screwed up.

Additional Resources