I met earlier this week with Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, for a wide-ranging conversation.
One of the first things I asked him was what he saw as the biggest obstacle to more Florida Baptist churches getting involved in church planting.
His answer was fascinating.
"Because we’ve created a target, we’ve created a scorecard that doesn’t necessarily value kingdom expansion as much as we value expanding our kingdom," Pastor Willy said. "We’ve kind of been on a journey here at Calvary. It’s the difference between addition and multiplication. Addition is easier. Addition looks better. The results are quicker. Multiplication is harder. It’s messier. But, as we all know, multiplication results in an increase long term that is much, much greater than just addition.
"So we kind of went on a journey at Calvary last year where we said: 'We’ve had a decade of really fun growth and addition.' Our vision that we cast last year was kind of like, 'Hey, let’s turn the plus sign into the multiplication sign. In the next decade, let’s kind of shift the scorecard and talk about multiplication—not just addition.' "
To go that route, Pastor Willy acknowledged, will not always be easy.
"You’ve got to re-learn some things. You’ve got to kind of keep score differently. It doesn’t always show up the way we like things to show up. But I really believe that, as we all know, multiplication trumps addition long term. You push it out there two or three decades [and the] impact of investing in multiplication is going to be much, much greater than just trying to get bigger.
"At Calvary, we said, 'We think the best way to impact our city and impact our nation is not just a big church getting bigger, but a big church multiplying itself.' ”
I will have much more to share from my interview with Pastor Willy on our website in the coming days. A video of our conversation will appear on goFBW.com later this month, and an edited version of our conversation will appear as the “Behind the Pulpit” feature in the March print edition of the Florida Baptist Witness, which will be mailed on Feb. 23th.
Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. He can be reached via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor