Pastors who are focused on church planting and multiplying often focus on leadership and ministry as the key aspects of launching new churches. But one critical piece is almost always missing from the multiplication plan—a facility strategy.
We hosted a panel discussion about launching multisite churches with three visionary leaders and pastors: Tom Elenbaas, Harbor Churches; Mark Jobe, New Life Community Church; Steve Poe, Northview Church. Each pastor addressed challenges multisite leaders face, what they’ve learned personally since embarking on a multisite strategy, and tips for healthy growth. Here are five practical tips from our conversation:
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
Whatever the churches in your neighborhood look like, stop for a moment, and consider the church that isn’t there. At least, that isn’t there yet. What will it look like? Who will attend? What will its relationship be with the people who live, work, and play in your zip code? How will it be built to reflect the values of those pastoring and attending the community? These are the questions more than a thousand church planters wrestled at the NewThing Gathering and Exponential Chicago, both hosted at Community Christian Church’s Yellow Box location in Naperville, Illinois, recently.
On Tuesday, October 16, Aspen Group will host its annual Alignment Conference at Community Christian Church in Plainfield, Illinois. This year’s one-day learning experience for senior pastors, executive pastors, and key ministry leaders will focus on “Building Your Church for Community Impact.”
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.
Community Christian Church, a dynamic, growing faith community whose mission is “helping people find their way back to God,” launched a new multisite location—Community Christian Church Plainfield—in 2016. Recognizing the need for an innovative space where people could connect and the community could embrace its love for athletics, Community Christian Church Plainfield, the location for the 2018 Alignment Conference, embarked on a complete renovation of a former manufacturing plant with the help of Aspen Group, an integrated design-build-furnish company for churches.
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 our consulting work at Multisite Solutions, we get weekly calls from churches asking two questions: So, why should a church merge? Should we do this or not? When I meet with the two involved parties, usually two senior pastors or a senior pastor and a board member, we talk about the following questions they should also be exploring:
Around 2009, my friend Warren Bird, at Leadership Network, called and asked if I was seeing a lot of mergers in my multisite church consulting. I was, and he was seeing the same. “God is doing something,” Warren said. “We ought to write a book about it.” A couple of years later, we published the book, Better Together, Making Church Mergers Work. Originally, like many pastors and church leaders, I had a vague, negative idea about church mergers. We didn't see it coming when we started thinking about multisite during my years at Willow Creek Community Church, but mergers have become an unintended consequence of the multisite movement.
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?