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In Mark 4: 26-29, Jesus gives a key principle of how God’s Kingdom grows. In this little story (see also I Corinthians 3:5-8) Jesus shows how the Kingdom of God grows organically, all by itself.  However, “…growth is not unlimited in God’s creation.  A healthy organism doesn’t keep growing indefinitely, but brings forth other organisms, which in their turn also multiply.” [1] Kingdom growth not only requires the development of larger local churches, but also more and varied local churches.

Kingdom growth is based on a fundamental concept of MULTIPLICATION as also found in nature. Just as cells, organisms, animals and people reproduce and multiply, so too must individual Christians multiply themselves by witnessing and sharing Christ with those around them (I Peter 3:15 & 16).  Good leaders reproduce themselves by developing apprentices (e.g. Paul & Timothy), and healthy small groups multiply themselves.  This principle also applies to congregations, ministries and churches.  Therefore, it is a natural part of the life cycle of every church to reproduce itself.  This is a crucial strategy towards accomplishing our vision as a denomination.

This chapter is a handbook supplementing Chapter 3.  Chapter 3 provides the bylaws approved by the general conference, which define the minimum set of denominational requirements for the organization and administration of local churches. This handbook, on the other hand, provides general philosophical guidelines to assist the local church in developing its organizational structure, managing and multiplying its ministries.

Each local church is unique, with its own particular ministry vision, objectives and needs, and members who have their individual Spirit-given gifts and graces.  As a result, each church will have its own specific organizational structure.  The number of and size of committees, their names and roles may differ from one church to another.  At the same time, there are many organizational principles and characteristics that are common to all churches.

The objective of this chapter is to provide guidance on the principles of local church organization and multiplication as they are commonly applied throughout The Free Methodist Church in Canada, while still empowering each church to adapt them to their own local ministry goals, needs and context.

During their life cycles Free Methodist congregations/ministries pass through several stages:  the idea stage, core formation stage, new congregation/ministry stage or affiliated (if coming from outside the denomination) stage in preparation for becoming a society. The term, Free Methodist Church, may be used in public reference by groups past the core formation stage. The following guidelines provide a consistent policy framework, while freeing the Holy Spirit to grow His Kingdom in whatever way He chooses. They seek to maintain our responsibility for integrity of faith, functionality of structure, and the health of each individual ministry.

New churches/ministries are most effectively formed when they are reproduced (sponsored) by one or more churches. Occasionally, new churches will be established through other arrangements.  In any case, new ministries will normally be sponsored by an existing church or organization (such as the conference) during its initial development.

[1] Schwartz, Christian. Natural Church Development. P124.