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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: Multi-site

Multi-site trends


One of the more striking trends of the previous decade has been the emergence of multi-location church as a normal condition. Currently at least fifty percent of megachurches are also multi-site churches.

-"What’s Next? A look over the hill for innovative churches and their leaders," Dave Travis, Leadership Network, 2012 Edition, p. 23.

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Exponential: how you and your friends can start a missional church movement


I mentioned in an earlier post on the book "Multi-Site Road Trip" that I had the opportunity to meet Dave and Jon Ferguson several years back.  I remember meeting with them, and Dave Dummit, as they were considering a site in Brighton, Michigan.  They had graciously met with Dan Reeves and myself to share their wisdom then on multi-site and the Big Idea in a time when very few people were talking about it.  I later was able to hear from them again at Third Reformed in Kalamazoo (now CenterPoint), and also had a chance to visit the Big Yellow Box and bring some friends along while I was in Chicago back in 2005.  What's been really cool is to see these guys stay so focused on the mission that God called them to long ago to reach the city of Chicago, and to do it consistently and yet creatively.  So much has changed in their movement in terms of the creative energy and leadership they've brought to multi-site, and yet in some ways, so little has changed.  The heart of the message to see people find their way back to God is consistent, persistent, and powerful. All that to say that I've just finished reading Exponential:  How you and your friends can start a missional movement.

This was a fabulous read for me.  First, something personal.  I'm embarking right now on Fair Haven Ministries' first site called South Harbor Church that will launch on 10.10.10 in Byron Township in south Grand Rapids, Michigan(along with many others in the 10.10.10 Initiative).   In fact, this morning I'm headed to hand out free cookies and lemonade at a local Little League to meet people and learn about the community.  Anyway, this book right now for me is a God-send in the sense that it affirms so many things that God is doing out of our church right now and also gives incredibly practical handles for being lead by Jesus, leading and reproducing leaders, tribes, communities, and movements.  What I love about how Dave and Jon wrote the book, was that it's written with deeply biblical values, immensely practical, tested, and proven in the trenches of missional multi-siting.  I also love the real-life stories of real people and real churches.  The story of Community Christian (and all it's sites) and many of its leaders is woven throughout the pages and gives you a sense of the messy reality of a true movement as well as the powerful stories. This isn't just ideas... it's the real deal.

For the past 5 years, a couple of my responsibilities as a spiritual formation pastor at Fair Haven have been leadership development and small groups.  I've been to many conferences and read many books and tried to implement many theories and ideas in both of these areas.  What's awesome in this book as well to see is how small group life really works in this church, and especially how the leadership development pathway is integrated with not only small groups, but also with missional communities and in the raising up of artists.

This is probably one of the best books I've read on the practical side of the church multiplication movement.  It's a must read for any church that is serious about multiplying leaders, churches, sites, disciples, and influence.   This summer, we took on 4 interns in church planting and we also have an on-site venue with a Campus Pastor.  We just talked this past week about all of them reading this, and I hope we can make that a reality.

Here are a couple of great tid-bits you'll find:

  • Real practical help on the leadership development people pathway and the importance of apprenticeship.
  • Great illustrations of vision and strategy on napkins!
  • A wonderful passage on scripture reading and journaling and how it affects leadership and vision for Dave Ferguson (see my recent post on YouVersion and LifeJournals)
  • A great chapter on coaching, its importance in leadership development, and practical questions and a format for coaching.
  • Encouragement that you, too, can really be used by God to multiply disciples, leaders, teams, sites, and churches.
  • A focus not just on church growth, but on being missional.
  • Much more.

Loved the book, and look forward to re-reading it and reviewing it with more care for some direct implementation in our new site.  I'll let you know how it goes.

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Multi-Site Road Trip


[youtube][/youtube]I recently read the new book Multi-Site Church Road Trip by Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird.  After reading The Multi-Site Revolution several years back, this was a wonderful update. 6 or 7 years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dave Ferguson for dinner at a restaurant in Brighton, Michigan where Community Christian Church was then working on a potential site.  Dan Reeves introduced me to CCC and the Ferguson brothers who were then cutting edge (and still are) in the multi-site movement.  Then, as reflected in The Multi-Site Revolution, multi-site was new, exciting, and and catalyst to new growth.  They were multi-siting in old churches and even in a housing development for the elderly.  I had a chance to hear their strategy at a small conference in Kalamazoo not long after that in which they talked about the "franchising" of churches.  Initially, that rubbed me the wrong way, but with the right spirit and for the right reasons, that idea was cheaper, more effective, and provided more accountability for "church planting" as well as more support for the planters (or campus pastors, as their usually called.)  I had a chance later to visit the Yellow Box and worship with CCC and was really impressed with their innovation, passion, and down-to-earth evangelicalism.  CCC was really my only real personal interaction with multi-siting until I began reading more about it in Leadership Network's articles.

I now serve at a large church just about to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  We worship just under 2000 most Sundays, and for the last 5 years, myself and the other leadership have worked diligently to move our church not only towards planting, but towards being a multiplication center with church multiplication at the heartbeat of our mission.  We've been involved in church plants in the past, but had gotten away from that focus and got sucked into the megachurch growth movement - which is only a negative comment because of the loss of a planting focus.   Out of that focus, we've decided to plant 4 churches in the next 5 years through venues, sites, and plants.  A month ago, we launched our first venue on our central campus called Rock Harbor with 60% of the attendees (170-200 total worshipers) from outside the church.  We're now looking to out first site to possibly launch in September or October.  We're also involved in the planting of a cluster of at least 5-10 churches in central Florida that will also launch this next year.

The Multi-Site Road trip has been an awesome primer in what's happening around the country and about the maturation of multi-siting over the past 10 or so years.   What I loved about this book was that it didn't give a silver bullet and didn't promote a one-size fits all approach.  In fact, exactly the opposite was true.  MSR defines multi-siting as "one church meeting in multiple locations" and identifies five basic models:

  1. video venues
  2. regional campuses
  3. teaching teams
  4. partnerships
  5. low risk models

The authors give examples of all these models and show how these models actually play out in real churches, real teams, with real struggles.  It also helps the reader to see that multi-siting is not just for the large, or mega church, but that it is a strategy for growth that helps churches to reach new communities, make room for new people, or as our planting network (The Harbor Network) would say, lives into the reality that "new churches reach new people."  It was insightful to read that multi-siting may be an evolution of church strategy not unlike the addition of a second or third service, something that will in the future be "the new norm" as the book calls it.  The book is both practical and encouraging, and is a must read for anyone either considering venues or multi-siting, as an alternative to traditional "planting," and as a catalytic idea for a church looking to expand into the community.

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