When Carey interviews someone he captures the audio while you are interviewed on a video platform; that way you can see each other creating a more dynamic conversation. So, the first thing I noticed when I logged on was that Carey’s shirt perfectly matched his pillows and I quickly mentioned it to him in good fun. Carey countered by taking this pic of himself and accessories and then posting it on his twitter account! I could tell this was going to be a fun interview!
Once the interview started we immediately hit it off and went on for about 90 minutes, much longer than the 45 minutes we planned. We talked about planting churches, movement-making, the “5 levels of churches”, the rapid global expansion of the NewThing network, the rapid growth of the Exponential Conference and the five practices of a Hero Maker. I ended up telling a story I’ve never told before and even gave him a peak into my journal (which I think he took a pic he is going to post when the podcast releases). I thoroughly enjoyed Carey and the interview!
Before the interview Carey sent me about a dozen possible questions that he planned to asked me but also warned me that he will take the conversation wherever it goes. So that I could be ready for both I spent a little more than an hour typing up a few thoughts to all the questions Carey sent me. While the interview will be released on December 5th; attached are the planned questions and my prepared notes for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast in case you want to check it out.
“I’ve never been to your church, but I love your church.” This was what COMMUNITY Campus Pastor Shawn Williams heard while getting his hair cut. The conversation started when the women cutting his hair asked Shawn what he did for a living. He said, “I’m a pastor at the Yellow Box.” As soon as he said that she responded, “My neighbors are a part of that church. In fact, I’ve recently gone through a divorce and it’s been really tough being a single mom. But my neighbors who go to your church have been a big help getting me through it. They’ve assisted me with carpooling; they’ve brought me meals and they’ve even helped me with small home improvement projects.” Then she looked at Shawn and said, “I’ve never been to your church, but I love your church.” I don’t know your definition of a missional church, but stories like that tell me a church is doing it!
Many people wearing the badge of missional experts have said that missional and mega are incompatible; a church like COMMUNITY can’t grow to be a large church AND exist for something outside of itself. Unfortunately, many times they have been exactly right. But for the last 24 months COMMUNITY has been in a transition to fulfill the dream of mobilizing every person in our large and growing church for mission. Last April myself and Alan Hirsch published our plan for transitioning a church for missional engagement in our book, On The Verge. The On The Vergetransition lays out the following three moves for a church who wants to become missional:
“See It” – This is the phase where you capture the imagination of people through story-telling and teaching. During this move people have the “ah-hah” and begin to see the mission of Jesus for the very first time.
“Get It” – This is the phase where people begin to understand and feel passionate about the mission. They begin to truly understand that our God is the missio Dei and as his people we too have a mission. They also begin to feel a passion for the mission and it becomes this compelling cause for which they want to give their lives.
“Do It” – This is the phase where people begin to implement what they have seen and now understand into the flow of their everyday lives. They eventually move to the place of becoming unconsciously competent about mission. Simply put, they do it!
After 24 months of working through these three moves at COMMUNITY and gaining missional momentum we had a breakthrough last weekend. We asked all our small groups to work through a 6-week process of determining their mission. Some of the groups would be “1-mission groups” and others would be “Multiple mission groups.” Last weekend we had about 1400 students and adults and 140 small groups stand on our stages and say out loud their mission, be anointed, prayed for and commissioned by the leadership of our church. The pic to your right is just one of our celebration services where groups filled the stage and made a public commitment to the mission of Jesus. More than 70% of our people are in small groups and 73% of our groups participated in the commissioning service this weekend. To you that might be a lot of numbers, but to me it is a sign that a very large church is clearly mobilizing large numbers of people for difference-making mission.
No, we are not done! Far from it. We have a long way to go. We have to sustain the missional momentum that we are now experiencing. But one thing I am increasingly convinced of is this: the large church can be used as a platform for energizing and mobilizing large numbers of people for missional engagement. In my own opionion, mega AND mission – it can be done!
I had a great time working with Mark and Nicole Conner and the CityLife team for two days in Melbourne, Australia. They are definitely world class leaders with tremendous passion and gifting. We spent most of our time talking about the organizational changes needed once you get beyond 3 sites. We also spent a great deal of time talking about how they can further implement the BIG IDEA. And we ate alot!!
While it was impressive that CityLife is the second largest church in Australia with an average attendance of 5500; what was more exciting is that it is now a reproducing church! In the last three years CityLife has added two more new sites; plus planting a new church with dreams for continually reproducing. If you dig deeper you will discover that this church, like most successful reproducing churches has an infrastructure of reproducing small groups with 88% of their people in small groups. Outstanding! I look forward to partnering with CityLife in the future. It is so inspiring to see what God is doing all over the world to bring about a movement of reproducing churches.
We have a very strong leadership culture at Community so I am fortunate to be surrounded by lots of very capable and highly competent leaders. And one of those amazing leaders is Kirsten Strand our Community 4:12 Director. Over the last six years Kirsten has led a tremendous shift in the culture of Community making us more compassionate about justice, passionate about the poor and has created a longing in us to see under-resourced communities transformed. In short, she has helped us become more like Jesus. Kirsten is a leader that I really admire! Today, the Naperville Sun had an article featuring her as “one of the best and brightest and up-and-coming leaders.” So, check out this article and get to know a leader I really admire.
We launched 2 NewThing Churches this past weekend – awesome stuff!
Anthem Church: Former NewThing/COMMUNITY Leadership Resident, Matt Larson (and wife Kristen) launched a NewThing Church near L.A., CA called Anthem Church. They kicked off this weekend with 339 people!!! We are super proud of Matt and the whole team at Anthem!
IKON Christian Community: Former NewThing/COMMUNITY Leadership Resident, Aaron Monts (and wife Tracy) launched a NewThing Church in downtown San Francisco, CA. They kicked off this weekend with 100 people!!! San Francisco’s average size for a church is 40 and IKON’s attendance on launch weekend already makes them one of the largest churches in San Francisco. San Fran, much like our Boston plant, is utilizing a “pace yourself or slow growth” strategy; where they will be doing multiple launches throughout the year. Eric Metcalf, NewThing Director spoke with Aaron yesterday and they are humbled to be a part of NewThing and very thankful that COMMUNITY has been praying for their new church. He shared many stories of people who are “spiritualists”, young professionals, and people who are in church for the first time in their life – taking their first steps to finding their way back to God.
Got a chance to hangout last night with L.V. Hanson, Ambassador for the Catalyst Conference and head honcho of the Catalyst Road Trip. Since he was new to Chicago I had to treat him to some Lou Malnati’s pizza. He’s a great guy and we had a great time. In the video we talked a lot about church planting and where Community is headed as a missional church. If you want to read his post about our conversation it is on the Catalystspace blog titled First Full Day in Chicago and it includes some stuff on multi-site that is not in the video.
This picture goes back a few years when Bill Carroll, Jeff Prosapio and myself went to England and France to experience and learn from the alternative worship movement in Europe. We had heard a lot about Taize worship that started and was practiced in Taize, France. So we left Paris and drove about 3 hours to Taize to for the experience. When we arrived we were confused because this little village couldn’t have had more than a couple hundred people and the only church in town looked severely under-used. The reason we were confused is because there are two Taize in France and we were at the wrong one. The other was another 6 hours away. This is Bill and I looking at the map and the two Taize’s in France.
Since that time Bill and his wife Rachelhave fallen more and more in love with France. After faithfully serving at Community for the last 12 years they are getting ready to take off with the whole family to plant a church. We are all going to miss them immensely. Bill is a tremendously hard worker and the most tenacious recruiter and developer of artists that I have ever seen. I am currently finishing up a book with Jon Ferguson on the reproducing church and much of the chapter we wrote on reproducing artists is from what I’ve learned from Bill. It is a skill that all our arts directors value and that’s a huge part of Bill’s legacy. Rachel was the founding director for CCC’s School for the Arts. We have about 400 students in our school and it has been a huge help in us developing artists young and old. More recently she served with the creative arts team in Kid’s City. Rachel is a super talented artist and tremendously creative leader.
At the end of this summer Bill and Rachel will take off for France and after going through language school will plant the first of many reproducing churches in Paris. We are thrilled that they not only go with our blessing and financial support but also as a part of NewThing. This will be the first of what we believe will be many new churches NewThing will plants in Europe. Thank you Bill and Rachel for passionately giving yourself to the mission of “helping people find their way back to God”. You have served us, the people in Chicagoland and God with great love and integrity. We are so proud of you, love you very much and will be praying for you.
This is the picture that I will long remember from Exponential 09. This was the first of more than 500 leaders who came forward to make a commitment to plant a new church. I was standing in the wings stage left while Francis Chan finished up his challenging closing message. He had just begun to explain that people could come forward to receive prayer for the new church you will start or just started and I saw this young man come down the aisle and collapse in prayer. It was representative of the moment and what God did through Exponential 09.
For the last few years I have served as the volunteer President of Exponential. It is our prayer that God will use it to catalyze a movement of reproducing churches. Every year God continues to send us more and more church leaders who are passionate about making that dream come true. Three years ago we had 900 leaders attend; two years ago 1800; last year we had 2700 and this year more than 3000!
This years theme was “The Art of Movements” and we told stories of church planting movements in the East in hopes that we could learn and see it happen here in the West. One of the church planting movements in India had rallied 100,000 Christ Followers to pray for Exponential 09. No wonder we saw such amazing things happen!