I was present at the beginning of this era of multisite ministry. It was an accident; I was just fortunate enough to work at Leadership Network at a time when we were making a list of and tracking the early practitioners of multisite. After a meeting with a church in 1997 that had already gone multisite, my team and I looked at each other and said, “ This is going to be big.” We then saw a cadre of churches doing similar things across various geographic areas and denominational backgrounds. What began as a list of 78 in the ‘90s has grown to more than 8,000, according to a Duke University survey. I believe we are still in the early chapters of this story. There has been a rapid replication of sites and systems to fit the current context, but we are a long way from seeing the totality of this movement. Drawing from the research within this report and my experience, here are some trends I have observed during the rise of expansion strategies, as well as a few shifts I think we have yet to see unfold:
What do we do when we run out of space? How do we answer God’s call to plant another church or campus site? Where will we find the resources we need to launch a new church? How do we train leaders and raise funds? How do we engage Millennials? Is it even the right time to start thinking about planting a new church? As a church leader, you may find yourself asking these same questions. Weren’t able to make it to Aspen’s 2017 Alignment Conference? Here’s a quick recap of the main stage keynote talks.
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
Whether you're considering the launch of your first multisite campus, thinking about planting your tenth church, or exploring the relocation of your existing church space, you must think strategically about that expansion process. The two guests on this fifth and final episode of the Alignment Conference Podcast know that reality all too well. For nearly three years, Bob Gray, project developer at Aspen Group, and Graham Richards, senior pastor at Thrive Christian Church, worked alongside each other exploring new growth opportunities within the church. And this past summer, all that work came to fruition with the opening of Thrive's new site in Westfield, Indiana. In this episode, Bob and Graham reflect back on that process, discussing the questions they worked through, including: How do you know when it’s time to make a change, and, what kind of change should be made? On October 17, Thrive Christian Church will host the 2017 Alignment Conference, giving church leaders a chance to see firsthand the impact that a new, strategically-designed space can have for a church. Listen to this podcast, and you'll be well prepared for this year's event.
The tug. The calling. The spiritual tap on the shoulder. However you describe it, you're certain that God has laid it on your heart to plant a church. But you're less certain on what to do next. Where would you plant it? How do you gather a team? Do you have staff ready to launch these new churches? And if so, how will they actually do it? Who's going to pay for it? What kind of budget is even needed? Or maybe you're on the other end of the spectrum. Maybe you're an experienced church planter who now leads multiple campuses. How do you not only hold it all together but also maintain energy as you try to keep your organization moving forward? In episode 4 of the Alignment Conference podcast, Patrick O'Connell, director of NewThing Network, answers several key questions about church planting and expansion strategies. Whether you're brand new to church planting or a seasoned veteran, Patrick shares a wealth of information for church planters and leaders who are eager to answer God's call to plant a church.
When Aspen Group partnered with Barna Group on the More Than Multisite research project, our teams went into this study thinking that leaders in growing churches want to know how to plant or “go multisite” and to learn best practices in terms of branding, facilities, organizational structures, and so on. In the past, space constraints would have been the main driver for churches looking to launch new sites. According to our findings, facility constraints or accommodating growth barely register as primary reasons. Even among the secondary reasons for adopting their particular model, these drivers are mentioned by only one-quarter or less of any group.
Mark Jobe is the lead and founding pastor of New Life Community Church in Chicago. He and his wife Dee have seen New Life grow from a handful of people to several thousand meeting at more than 20 locations with over 40 worship services each weekend. Mark is also the founder of New Life Centers, an organization focused on helping youth in underserved areas of Chicago. On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, Mark will share his church's journey with "Restarts," New Life's method of merging with historic urban churches in order to preserve and restore faith communities. Don't miss your chance to hear his inspiring vision for redeeming sacred space!
Whether it's pursuing a new geography, a new people or ethnic group, or a new generation, growing or expanding your church through a multisite approach involves taking new ground for the Kingdom. But what are some of the biggest challenges you'll likely face as a pastor when launching your first multisite church? And how about church mergers? Is that a consideration for your church? What's your plan for leadership succession? Better yet, what makes a great multisite leader in the first place? Don’t worry. You’re not the only one asking these questions. In episode 3 of the Alignment Conference podcast, Dave Travis, CEO of Leadership Network, pulls from his 20+ years of experience with multisites to offer his thoughts on the obstacles you'll confront along the way toward launching your next congregation, ways to prepare your leadership team, and what to consider with church mergers, acquisitions, and adoptions.
The right kind of leadership is critical to the success of a church or ministry. In order for leadership to be successful, you need both a leadership pipeline and a leadership path. Let’s discuss the difference.
You've thought about going multisite. You've even talked about what that could mean for your church. But how do you know if you're ready to make the move? After all, multisites seem risky—church planting too. You've seen other churches in your community try them and fail. If only you knew what mistakes they may have made, and how you can avoid them. Fondly referred to on this podcast as the "godfather of multisite," Jim Tomberlin is the founder of MultiSite Solutions and a recognized leader in the multisite movement. In Episode 2 of the Alignment Conference podcast, Jim offers three questions you can begin asking now to know if you're in a good position to move toward multisite, along with several lessons learned from churches who made some mistakes along the way to launching their next church.
If your church wants to expand to more locations, you must first know the questions to ask: What does "going multisite" mean? And a "church plant" . . . is that the same thing? How do other churches make a decision to expand? How might it affect the leadership and operations within my church? In Episode 1 of the Alignment Conference Podcast, Brooke Hempell, senior VP of research at Barna Group, shares what she learned when asking church leaders around the country these same questions—all compiled in the More Than Multisite research study. And if you're not a numbers person, don't worry. In this conversation, Brooke helps make sense of the data in applying it to your vision of church expansion.