Grace Groups: Reproducing Rabbits, not Elephants


Continuing in our series on Reproducing Grace, we’re going to look again at the book of First Thessalonians.  At the time that Paul and Silas went to Thessalonica, it was the capital of the entire providence and 200,000 people lived there.  Most of these were Greeks, many were Romans and there was also a small number of Jewish people. It was a port city with a heavily-traveled highway running through it.  Many people lived there and many people passed through. As we talked about in the last blog, one small group of believers influenced the whole region.  (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9)

Small is Ideal, Not Just Okay

I’ve read a lot of church planting books that emphasize starting with a lot of people and raising a lot of money.  But that’s not what we see in scripture. That’s not what Paul did. Paul started small.

Let me try to explain it this way. “If you want a 1,000 pounds of meat, raise elephants. If you want a 1,000 tons of meat, raise rabbits.” (1)  Elephants are significantly larger than rabbits and would presumably provide more meat than rabbits would.  If you want the most amount of meat for the greatest amount of time, however, look at these simple facts:

Elephants are fertile four times a year, whereas rabbits are almost continuously fertile.

Elephants only have one baby per pregnancy; yet rabbits have seven babies per pregnancy.

Elephants have a 22 month gestation; rabbits only have a 1 month gestation.  

Elephants reach sexual maturity at age 18; rabbits reach sexual maturity at 4 months old.

If you put two elephants in a room and two rabbits in a room, in three years you will have three elephants and 476 million rabbits.

You see, starting small is not just okay, it is ideal!

Rabbits of Grace

I want to emphasize starting small because this is what we see in Scripture. If one small grace group focuses on 300 to 1000 people (this could be a small town or a small part of a particular region), that group could have great influence on those people with the grace message.

Let’s say one small grace group starts and focuses on 500 people in a particular area. How many affinity groups might there be in those 500 people?  If one grace group multiplied like rabbits and saturated that 500 people with grace in every affinity, grace would abound in that area.  People would believe the grace message and have eternal life (John 3:16). The culture would change from secular, Pagan to having a grace-centered worldview, just like we see in scripture (1 Thess. 1:7, 9).  Children and youth would grow up in that area knowing how to make all of their decisions in life based on a grace-centered Biblical worldview.  People would overcome addictions, hurts, shame, and anger and replace those with grace. Many of the people in the different affinity groups of this area of 500 people would learn how to reproduce grace through their own grace groups.  Naturally, like rabbits, grace groups would multiply into the next area of 300 to a 1000 people and so on and so on. If this movement happened in multiple regions across the United States and in other countries it could be a movement of global proportions.  

Starting small is ideal with one grace group focusing on one area of 300 to a 1000 people in one particular region.  

Just like rabbits, God’s grace would multiply exponentially!

(1) Browning, Dave. (2009). Deliberate Simplicity. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan


Reproducing Grace: A Church Plant Movement

Gathering for a Grace Movement

Reproducing Grace Groups Can Influence a Culture

Originally posted on Freedom Church Movement

Joe Filer is an author, speaker, and church planter. Born in Shamong, N.J. he now lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife of 24 years and their two teen boys. His first book was recently published by Freedom Church Movement “Freedom: Your Best Year Yet. Living the Abundant Christian Life.” Joe has been a church planter since 2008 and is currently a missionary in Utah planting underground churches that meet in homes and some pretty unusual places. Joe is also helping to coach 18 church planters in China. Learn more at Freedom Church Movement.

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