What is sequentialism and why does it prevent multiplication?

David Garrison, in his book "Church Planting Movements" (which I thoroughly recommend) talks about the deadly sins of church planting.  One of these is sequentialism.  So what is this, and why is it so "deadly"?

Sequentialism is the idea that things have to be done in order.  First we do this, then we do that.  One of the common mistakes that existing Christians make when starting an organic/house church is this.  They decide that the first thing they are going to do is develop community.  When they have done that, they will think about reaching out to the world around them.

The result of this kind of thinking?

  • Once some community has formed, they start to run into problems, so they don't feel they can add other people.  
  • The fellowship becomes so deep and meaningful that they really don't want to interrupt it by adding others.  
  • Even if they start adding others with the intention of splitting into two when they get too large, (probably the slowest way to multiply), often it has taken a gifted leader to get them to that size and no one feels qualified to do something similar.

No, if you want to see multiplication, do things simultaneously.  Just as soldiers in battle develop a camaraderie that nothing else is likely to equal, when Christians join together in a task, their fellowship deepens.  If we want to see our communities reached for Christ, let's deliberately reach out right from the start.

6 thoughts on “What is sequentialism and why does it prevent multiplication?”

  1. Thanks Felicity. This reminds me of what koinonia fellowship truly is. I don’t where I heard it (I may have even made it up), but the best definition of koinonia I’ve heard is that it’s two more people mutually investing themselves and their resources for a common purpose or cause. If outreach/apostolic mission is not included in our groups, then they don’t have any purpose or cause other than to gaze at our navels, it seems.

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  2. great book! It led me to a more relational and simple Christianity and ultimately leaving institutional Christianity and learning about organic church life.
    I have to say that as the group comes together they should focus on getting to know one another deeply and knowing Christ together in order to withstand the internal and outward assaults that will come against them. I think Frank Viola’s book “Finding Organic Church” is an excellent resource. Another key aspect of this is having an organic church planter provide a foundation of Jesus Christ for the group early on and periodically encouraging the group as they learn to live by the Spirit. By not having “leaders” the group will learn Christ as leader and therefore everyone can learn Christ together. This can bring great confidence and faith in the entire body that when they do grow too large and they need to look at gathering in other places, however the Lord leads, it doesn’t take a professional.

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  3. Thanks Felicity for this posting! Sequentialism comes
    when we do things in a certain order because we think it
    is best that way, or because we have learned it that way.
    Life can be so simple! Love God, Love People wherever you
    find them, always bless them however they need it,
    always invest in everyone all the time, whether or not
    they know the Lord, and don’t worry about following
    a plan.
    Always be asking, “Where can we start a new little
    group of people who want to learn about Jesus?”
    Watch God bless what you are doing! Wow!

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  4. How about ‘to the Jew first’? Or am I being pedantic….? This would suggest to me (and also backed up by Paul’s ‘strategy’) that when entering a town, the first evangelism is to the local Jewish community…just a thought.

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