Exponential, the world’s largest church planting conference, has been pushing churches to move beyond multisites and embrace multiplication as a church expansion plan.
Editor's Note: Greg Snider and Josh Gregoire of Aspen Group presented a talk to a full room of leaders from across the country at Exponential in Orlando on March 3, 2020 on "3 Myths About Facilities that Keep Church Planters from Multiplying." Their presentation drew heavily from the same content featured in the post below. Based on positive feedback on the content of their talk, we're featuring this post again on our blog in case you missed it in previous weeks. 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.
What will it take for the church to regain its place in the center of our culture? I posed this question in a panel discussion with three visionary leaders: Tom Elenbaas, Harbor Churches; Mark Jobe, New Life Community Church; and Dave Ferguson, Community Christian Church. (You can see the full conversation here.)
Around 2009, my friend Warren Bird, then 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.
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 talk with the two churches involved, usually two senior pastors or a senior pastor and a board member, I ask them to reflect on four questions to help them answer the big question: Should my church merge?
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:
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.