If you have any interest in the multi-site church you need to read the Multi-Site Church Road Trip! If you are thinking about going multi-site or considering adding more sites or want to know what the future of the multi-site church – this book is a must read. I consider all three authors: Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon and Warren Bird friends; but that is not why I’m saying to read this book. I’m encouraging you to read it because this book contains the latest and best information available on the multi-site church movement.
Since I know the three guys who wrote this book and I lead a church with nine (soon to be eleven) sites I was happy to answer a few questions they had for me about the multi-site church movement. So here are their questions and my answers:
Q: In the book we describe the leadership structure at Community Christian. How important is structure to the success of a church using a multi-site strategy?
A: Our experience at Community and through our NewThing churches is that there are structural shifts when going to two sites; when going to a fourth site and when going to a tenth site. Because of this we are finding that a lot of churches are going to two sites; not very many churches with three sites and there are a whole lot that are going to four sites and more. Why? I think it has to do with structure. Some churches that go to two sites do not think about structure and find it overwhelming and complicated and stop reproducing sites. While there are other churches that think through the structural changes that need to be made and continue to reproduce to three sites, four sites and beyond.
Q: Community Christian does a great job of both planting churches and launching campuses. How do you distinguish between a church planter and a campus pastor?
A: We really believe the same qualities need to be in place for a campus pastor or church planter. We want them to be entrepreneurial, have a leadership gift and comfortable relating to all people (churched and un-churched) in their context. All our NewThing churches are looking to train one leadership resident per site to apprentice and become a campus pastor or church planter.
Q: You and Jon seem to do an amazing job of leading together. What advice would you give to church leaders who are considering employing family members in their ministry?
A: They key to family working together is much like any staff working together: good character, great chemistry and genuine competency. However, (and I’m sure Geoff Surratt will agree with me) it takes a very special and humble leader to allow their brother to be the lead pastor. Jon (like Geoff at Seacoast) could easily be the lead pastor at this Community or any other church; but instead he uses his extraordinary leadership gifts without getting all the kudos that come with being the lead pastor. I have more respect for Jon, than any other church leader I know.
Q: You have been a leader from the very beginning of the multi-site revolution in America. What do you see next on the horizon for multi-site in American churches?
A: I love this question! In fact, Jon and I just finished our next book, Exponential: How You and Your Friends can Start a Missional Church Movement and we talk about this. So here is what I see on the horizon:
- More new sites will be launched by sites other than the original site. In other words we will see new sites reproducing new sites.
- Sites will be launched not based on the competency of the mother church, but on the strengths and needs of the community where the new site is started.
- There will be less of the “We use video” vs. “We develop teachers” battle and more multi-site churches will use both video and in-person teaching.
- A lot more campus pastors will be female and there will be evidence that they are more effective than men in this role which will bring some controversy.
- Multi-site churches will think in terms of launching a region with multiple sites and not one new site at a time.
- Online churches ill not just have one site, but they will also have multiple sites!
- The churches that are effective in reproducing new sites will be the churches that are most effective in reproducing missional communities.
Q: In your book The Big Idea you describe how every ministry at Community is on the same page. How does the Big Idea work in a multi-site environment?
A: It was going to multiple sites that caused us to be intentional about implementing the Big Idea. It was our conclusion that having every campus on the same Big Idea would bring alignment to our vision and mission. Practically speaking here is how it works: we plan our Big Idea series a year in advance. Thirteen weeks in advance of the celebration service the teaching team develops and writes a Big Idea “graph” which is a one page summary that gives clear direction and scriptural content. Ten weeks in advance the teaching team plans the whole message in that series and gives writing assignments. The following week, nine weeks in advance our creative arts team plans the creative elements such as video, sketches, music, interactive moments, etc… to better accomplish the Big Idea. This same process is done for all our large group and small groups fro adults, students and kids. It is awesome!