Over the last few days I have been posting the Q and A I did with Outreach Magazine as a part of their just released Americas Most Innovative Churches issue. I would encourage you to not only get this issue but figure out a way to have your staff do research on each of the top 25 most innovative churches and then discuss innovations that would be applicable to your context. This is the third and final post. If you want to go back and read the entire interview, here is part 1 and here is part 2. Enjoy. In this interview I focused on three particular innovations at Community and directed all my comments toward those three applications. OK, now back to the interview on the topic of innovation.
OUTREACH: Do you know of other churches that are following your lead in these
areas? How are you intentionally resourcing or teaching other
churches in these areas?
- Multi-Site to Poly-Site: We have trained thousands of church leaders in how to become a multi-site church through a variety of conferences, practicum’s, training events and mediums. Most of these churches are reproducing sites exactly like the original site and because you want to build upon successes we encourage churches in this direction for their first off-site. However, there are a growing number of churches that are realizing that we need all kinds of sites to reach all kinds of people – those churches are making the transition to poly-site. Our doors at Community are always open and we allow leaders from other churches to
come and hang watch us. In addition we offer a Multi-site Practicum 3-4 times a year where we work with leadership teams that are preparing to go multi-site. Our commitment is that they will leave with a step-by-step plan for how to go multi-site that fits their context. We also offer a Hitchhikers Guide to Multi-Site where church leadership teams and spend the weekend with us and get a vision of what a reproducing multi-site church looks like.
- Network to Networks: I don’t know of any churches in the western hemisphere that are leading networks where they have made this transition. There may be others, I just don’t know about them…but I would like to know about them!!
- Partnership with under-resourced public schools: Just recently we have begun coaching
another church that is exploring this model of outreach through partnering with public schools. We have offered workshops at local conferences to share the model with other churches. We are planning to become more intentional about this, as we receive requests from around the country from churches intrigued by this model.
In your opinion, what were some of the keys to
making these innovations work?
- Multi-Site to Poly-Site: At Community we not only have a leadership culture, but I believe an entrepreneurial leadership culture. And these entrepreneurial leaders have embraced the following values that foster innovation:
- Rather fail than not risk something new.
- Bias for the new over the established.
- Love the lost more than the found.
- Prefer the edge over the center.
- Network to Networks: We are ready to trade our lives for the dream of “being a catalyst for a movement of reproducing churches”. When we talk about this we ask, “What would it take to impact one billion people?” I believe that kind of commitment to a dream forces you to take risks and re-think how you are doing church. This kind of commitment and re-thinking has led us to reproducing networks.
- Partnership with under-resourced public schools: A commitment from the senior leadership down to be a church that is intentional about reaching out to people different from themselves is where this starts. This vision must be cast and recast and recast and recast. Then it will require weekly messages that continually challenge people to move out of their comfortable life-styles toward a lifestyle of generosity. However, the pivotal moment came when we had hired a full-time staff person to lead this outreach ministry. And when that person was so passionate that she and her family sold their home in affluen t Naperville and moved to an under-resourced neighborhood in Aurora this innovation really got some momentum.
OUTREACH: Does your church host an annual conference for other churches? If so,
what are you communicating that you believe these churches aren’t hearing
- Multi-Site to Poly-Site: We offer a Multi-site Practicum 3-4 times a year where we work with
leadership teams that are preparing to go multi-site. Our commitment is that they will leave with a step-by-step plan for how to go multi-site that fits their context. We also offer a Hitchhikers Guide to Multi-Site where church leadership teams and spend the weekend with us and get a vision of what a reproducing multi-site church looks like. In addition to that, we regularly participate in conferences on the multi-site church. For more information check our NewThing website.
- Network to Networks: We offer a Reproducing Church Experience several times a year that gives leaders and church planters an understanding of the culture of a reproducing church. This is foundational to understanding how to reproduce artists, leaders, campuses, churches and networks. For more info check our NewThing website. I am also serving as the President of the Exponential Conference which is the premier event for church planters and leaders of reproducing churches.
- Partnership with under-resourced public schools: Hmmm … not yet!