Talk to any church leader, and they’ll tell you it feels more challenging than ever to get people to come to church on a Sunday. Even in growing churches (like ours), the competition for peoples’ time, attention and devotion seems to get more intense every year. You’ve felt it too. So what’s up? And where is future church attendance heading?
Churches once held a place of influence at the center of our communities. In the past, many hospitals, colleges, and social services were launched out of a vision to obey Jesus’ admonition to give to the poor, clothe the naked, care for orphans, and visit the imprisoned. Churches were viewed as an anchor in our communities, and they literally were given a central place in the town square.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
A good friend of mine who lives in the northern section of the U.S. has found a new way to deal with the arctic feel of winter. As an avid golfer, he has decided to take two or three days each month in January, February, and March to travel to a warm state, play golf and then go back home… by himself.
Every church is driven primarily by the same mission: To “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . .” (Matthew 28:19). How a church goes about making disciples can be vastly different though. To be effective, each church needs to identify its growth engines and growth barriers—aspects of ministry that either foster or inhibit growth, whether in the number of people who attend, or in their levels of spiritual maturity.
Many multisite leaders and church planters feel strongly called to a local vision to love their neighbors, be part of the restoration of a community, attract those who need relationship, and be “incarnational” in reaching their city or region. Generational shifts in the way Christians live out their faith underscore the relevance of this vision, and multisites and church plants are uniquely suited to meet some of these needs.
Are you ready to launch your next church? What are the questions you should be asking as you consider this venture? When I was 22, I was completely overwhelmed with pastoring a small church in a tough neighborhood. It looked bleak. My salary was $8,000 a year with no insurance. The church had 18 people and no worship band. I was living in my one-room office with a mattress on the floor and mouse traps all around. I thought, "Wow, we're supposed to be this dynamic ‘change the world’ church and we're just this small, feeble group...the toothless, the broken, the homeless and those with prison sentences."
In part 1 of this series, we examined six keys for a successful church restart. According to Mark Jobe, lead/founding pastor or New Life Community Church in Chicago, a restart can be a story of redemption rather than as a “take-over.” In part 2, Jobe uses the acronym GRACE to describe how to discern whether the restart process is right for your church and God-honoring ways to embark on a restart journey.
New Life Community Church is a multicultural, multisite church that gathers in 25 locations, each with live preaching. When we first started launching new sites, I didn't know hardly anyone else that was doing it. Today, there are many churches taking this approach, and it's a great strategy. Of our 25 New Life sites, about 14 of them were born out of a “restart.” This is the term we use when an older church has invited us to move into their existing building that was on the verge of closing and restart the church under the New Life banner. Though we didn’t set out with a plan to engage in restarts, they’ve become an important part of New Life’s multiplication strategy.
Many church leaders could write out a list of tasks and priorities for launching a new site. More challenging is having an effective communication plan and solid timeline for sharing the vision, building the team, and creating anticipation that leads up to the launch. What steps are most important to start with? How much time do you need, from start to finish, to build a core group and launch a new site? When is the right time to ask people to make a commitment? What should we be doing to get the word out?
What can we learn about church multisite strategy from the business world? As a communications specialist for churches, I am always looking at what's going on in our culture at large, not just within the church world, to help churches communicate clearly and carry out their mission. What are companies doing? What are stores doing? What are coffee shops doing? We want to learn from them what we can and apply those lessons to our ministries and churches.