Distill It Down to the Smallest Pattern

My friend is excellent at taking the complex and making it simple.  I love having her on the team because she really makes it possible to replicate.

The simpler anything is, the easier it is to repeat.  The more complex, the more difficult to pass it on.

In Chapter 11 of their book, “Missional Moves:  15 Tectonic Shifts that Transform Churches, Communities, and the World”  Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder put it this way:

“The simpler and more easily repeatable a fractal is, the harder the system is to break or destroy.”

“The more sophisticated and complex a fractal is, the harder it is to replicate, the easier it is to mutate, and the easier it is to destroy.”

What’s a fractal?  Wegner and Magruder define it this way:  “A fractal is the smallest repeatable pattern of any given system.”

It’s hard for me to think of anything that I do now naturally that didn’t begin with some simple, repeatable actions that were within my grasp to do.  Even overwhelming, “stretch me” kind of challenges began with a simple, repeatable step.

There is no movement without reproduction.  And there is no reproduction without small repeatable patterns.

In the Chapter on Adaptive Methods in Steve Addison’s book, “Movements that Change the World” Steve writes, “As the Word became flesh, Jesus fully entered into our world.  He chose to communicate and minister in ways that matched his context and were easily picked up by his disciples.  His message was profound but simple.  It was easily transmitted, shaped, and passed on by his disciples.”

He states that Adpative Methods are:

  • Sustainable-Able to reproduce without external funding
  • Flexible-Can be modified as the context changes
  • Transferable-Easily passed on to new disciples
  • Simple-Only the essentials are included
  • Functional-Effective for the purpose they were intended
  • Scaleable-Capable of multiplying without distortion
  • Reproducing-Spreads rapidly from person to person, network to network

Consider these:

Begin with prayer





  • Don Everts and Doug Schaupp in their book “I Once Was Lost” articulate 5 things you should invite your friends to repeat over and over again in your discipling relationships:

Get them praying.

Get them reading Scripture.

Get them serving.

Get them to share their story.

Get them to live in community.

  • Greg Finke, the founder of Dwelling 114, encourages 5 questions as sort of a weekly check-in with those we are living in community with:

Where have you seen God this week?

What has God been teaching you in His Word?

What discussions are you having with those who are far from God?

What good can we do around here?

How can we lift each other up in prayer?

  • In our missional communities (lifeGroups) at the Church we use 4 W’s to help us:

Welcome-we share our lives with each other around food and fellowship.

Worship-we experience the presence of God and experiment with different ways of responding.

Word-the Scripture holds a sacred, central place in our gatherings.

Witness-we consider how we might bless our community and engage our friends who are far from God (impact lists).

Notice any similarities?

One of the main reasons why we are not seeing the multiplication of new believers and discipling relationships in the church in America is because we have allowed our ministries to become so complex that only a few can truly participate.  We have not done the hard work of distilling down our systems to the smallest repeatable pattern.

In my work with Auxano we call this effort of intentional integration a “Duplicatable Process”.  Anything in ministry you hope to reproduce must be broken down into simple repeatable patterns (fractals).  Only then, will there be any movement.

So, spend time considering such things.  Watch Jesus.  Discuss and discern with your leaders. Engage and employ a strategic outsider like Auxano.  Ask God for clarity.  Decide and synthesize your language.  Live it with joy to the glory of God.  And, as you do, invite others to join you and imitate you.

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Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer

I am Jeff Meyer, and I start fires. Ever since that basketball game in college when I came off the bench and lit a spark for my team, I have carried the nickname "Fire Meyer." (Until that point in my career my jersey #22 never saw the floor in an actual game. Perhaps the #22 was a symbol of my life calling: 2 Timothy 2:2?) I live to see sparks ignited and connections made. I long to see the church wake up and live. I long to see Jesus-followers display passionate commitment to Jesus. Jesus' invitation to follow Him was an adventure of epic proportions. Can we recapture that today? I long to see communities transformed into healthy places of wholeness. I believe that communities are transformed when Jesus-followers are stoked and respond. Perhaps you've heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. I believe that a responsive Jesus-follower is the hope of the world. "Igniting connections" is my way of setting off some inspirational sparks; sparks that ignite a passionate response to the call of Jesus.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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