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.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
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 upcoming 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?
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.
I originally thought my calling was to use my talents to build high-rise buildings. I was in the high-rise world for the better part of three decades and thought I would stay my whole life, but then I bumped into a gentleman named Lyle Schaller. A member at my home church, he was a great influence on me. Before he passed away, Lyle would come up to me after worship on Sundays, tap me and say, "What's up this week, young man? What are you doing to advance the Kingdom? Never be afraid to use your secular gifts to do the Lord's work."
When I talk with churches about how to launch an online campus, I always share my own story of how I became connected with Church Online. I married an Oklahoman, and we initially settled in his state. We moved into our first little house and lived across the street from this church with very loud music. When I was pregnant with our first child, I felt terribly sick one Sunday morning. We were part of a great local church, but in that church, I had to wear heels and a nice dress to service. I told my husband, "I cannot do that today. I just can't do it, I'm so sick." He said, "Well, I'll just walk across the street to that church where you can wear jeans."