There is some good news for the church from a February 2019 LifeWay Research study done for Exponential Resources[1] (a movement providing ideas and solutions for the accelerated multiplication of healthy, reproducing churches)! In their 2015 book, Becoming a Level 5IVE Multiplying Church[2], Exponential leaders Todd Wilson and Dave Ferguson identified five kinds of churches in their approaches to multiplying disciples and multiplying churches:

Level 1 churches are declining (subtracting) in attendance and the number of disciples they are producing, living in a culture where it is hard for them to even think about church multiplication.

Level 2 churches are plateaued in attendance and the number of disciples they have been producing, looking for something to spark a new season of growth.

Level 3 churches are growing and consistently adding new disciples. They are developing new leaders and conquering growth barriers to make an impact in their surrounding communities.

Level 4 churches are making a strong commitment to multiplying disciples by starting new churches. They have demonstrated the ability to reproduce leaders and to deploy them for planting.

Level 5 churches are multiplying and sending out everyday missionaries and church planters. They plant churches that plant churches to the fourth generation, resulting in hundreds of churches in their multiplication family tree.

The 2015 book identified the number of Protestant churches in each level based on 2014 research (provided by NAMB and other partners) listed in the chart below. Now the 2019 LifeWay Research updates the changes. It is encouraging to see that the percentage of churches subtracting and plateauing is declining, while the number of churches adding is growing. But the greatest news to our Church Planting Team is that the percentage of churches involved in reproducing churches has increased from four percent to seven percent—that’s almost double in the last five years!





L1 & L2

Plateauing or Subtracting















Yet, the research also shows that we have far to go until reproducing and multiplying will be seen in a significant percentage of our churches. To help your church move towards Level 4 or 5, we suggest the following…

  • Assess where you are. You can take a free Exponential 30-minute multiplication assessment at
  • Decide on two or three goals that address where your church needs to grow in multiplying disciples, leaders and churches.
  • Develop an initial plan/strategy with specific action steps to implement your above goals (for a list of free eBook/audio/video resources to give you ideas, visit
  • Consider registering your potential disciple makers/leaders/planters in the NAMB Multiplication Pipeline, which provides three years of free online training for your church. Contact your Church Planting Catalyst for more info.
  • Enlist a coach to help you implement your plan. SCBI’s Bob Weeks or your Church Planting Catalyst can provide you with information about how to receive free coaching.

Article by John Horn; contact:

[1] Available for free download at
[2] Available for free download at