what is the leadership arrangement of deeper life bible church
Pastor William F. Kumuyi from Lagos, Nigeria is the pastor of one of the world’s largest and fastest growing churches. Pastor Kumuyi is the founder and General Secretary of the Deeper Life Bible Churches. His church in Lagos has 120,000 members, making it one of the five largest churches in the world. In less than 25 years the Deeper Life movement has grown dramatically to include 5,000 other churches throughout Nigeria, and 3,000 churches outside of Nigeria. The membership of the Deeper Life churches in Nigeria is estimated to be 1,000,000. Deeper Life also has started churches in 40 African nations, Europe and North America. In April 2013, Kumuyi was listed as one of the “500 most powerful people on the planet” and Deeper Christian Life Ministry was considered “the world’s largest megachurch” by the Foreign Policy Magazine.
Pastor Kumuyi was in Romania in 2005 for a series of evangelistic meetings and pastors’ seminars, which provided me an opportunity to discover some of the factors that contributed to the growth of the Deeper Life movement. In the pastors’ seminar, Kumuyi emphasized that there are biblical principles of church growth that apply to every culture, every church. However the practical application of these biblical principles varies from country to country. So not all the practices of the Deeper Life church in Nigeria may be appropriate for your context. But we wish to discover the biblical principles that apply to church growth. So we must ask, what biblical principles lay behind this phenomenal growth that can be applied universally?
Ike Nwaobasi, a missionary planting Deeper Life churches in Austria, observes: “Deeper life has succeeded because Pastor Kumuyi has succeeded in reproducing himself in others.” In Bucharest, Pastor Kumuyi spoke about leadership training that results in reproduction. “You were born to reproduce. What the disciples received, they were to give to others. So we build up converts to become leaders. Baby boys become fathers. Little girls become mothers. The purpose of the training is reproduction.”
Because reproduction is important to the Deeper Life movement, every person is trained to reproduce from the beginning. Every person is trained to do the work of evangelism. After three months new converts begin training to become leaders. All cell group leaders receive weekly training. There is also specialized training for top leadership. Books, cassettes and video supplement face-to-face teaching. “Every church that wants to grow,” says Nwoabasi, “must take leadership training seriously.”
Training for reproduction involves much more than the transfer of head-knowledge. Deeper Life involves people in a practical training process that not only transfers to them head knowledge, but also helps them develop and master practical ministry skills. Jesus used such a process in training the disciples. This process begins with conversion. Instruction immediately follows. Next a demonstration of the skill is given. Jesus did not just give the disciples theory about out to preach the gospel, to heal the sick and cast out demons; he showed them how. Instruction provides the theory of why something works. Demonstration provides a living example of the practical outworking of the theory. In training people today, instruction is important; but demonstration is essential. Next trainees must be given opportunities to practice what they have learned and have seen. Kumuyi observes that anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly — at first. When we first start to do anything we make mistakes. This is true with walking, talking, reading, writing, evangelizing or preaching. No one who does something important does it perfectly the first time. Some say, “I’m afraid I will make a mistake” “If you don’t make mistakes,” responds Kumuyi, “you will never do anything. Start practicing and perfection will come.” For people to have opportunities to practice, leaders must delegate tasks to people. This process of training also involves supervision and correction as needed until the skill is mastered. The training process is complete when the person trained is reproduces his or herself in others. Thus the training process involves conversion, instruction, demonstration, practice, delegation, supervision, and correction resulting in reproduction.
The purpose of training is reproduction. Jesus commands us to make disciples who, in turn, will make more disciples. The leader must say to his followers, “The work I do, you will do.” Then he must involve his followers in a training process that will lead to reproductive. “Do not let this process die,” Kumuyi challenges. “Go take the Gospel to every creature.