I got a call recently from Andy Williams at Leadership Network wanting to interview me for Innovations 2008 (if you haven’t got a copy of the pictured Innovation 2007 – you should get one!). It sounds like this will be an annual publication highlighting innovations taking place in the church.
One of the innovations that they are observing (and I definitely see this!) is that there are more and more churches that are not trying to decide between multi-site and church planting. Instead, the most innovative churches are choosing the “Genius of the AND” by doing both multi-site AND church planting! I love it! The following are some of the questions they asked me and a summary of my response:
- Q: What has your church done specifically in the areas of launching new sites and planting new churches?
- A: In the last 8 years we have gone from one site to eight sites and plan to start seven new sites in the next 5 years. In the last 5 years we have begun our NewThing Network and we have 12 affiliate churches all but one are new church plants. And through our NewThing Network we have provided coaching for thousands of churches who are looking to reproduce leaders, artists, sites and churches.
- Q: How did you arrive at this place as a church where you do both- develop multi-sites and plant churches?
- A: It is my observation that once a church gets that “reproducing virus” into its system it is hard to kill the virus and it will show up as a new group, a new ministry, a new site and a new church. You can’t expect to have a culture (or DNA) of reproducing and that it will only result in new sites. It is only a matter of time until it gives birth to leaders and people who also want to start a new church. It is at that point that as apostolic (going and sending) leaders we have to make an important choice: “do we bless it OR do we dismiss it?” Too many leaders just dismiss it and say “ok, go plant your church; but just leave quietly”. We have chosen instead to “bless it” and ask people from CCC to support and move to places like Kansas City, Denver, Boston, Detroit and New York City where we have started new churches…and they go!
- Q: Why is it important to you that you do both multi-site and church planting?
- A: I think that Acts 1:8 gives us the most concise version of Jesus mission for the church. And if we are going to accomplish this mission doing both gives us the only chance of making it happen. Anything short of that seems like compromising the mission.
- Q: What impact does doing both multi-site and church planting have on your church and your people?
- A: I think the impact is seen in what we really care about: we care more about the new than the established; we care more about the edge than the center and we care more about the lost than the found. I believe these values are true to what it means to be an apostolic missional church. The other significant impact is the realization that while we need facilities we know that we can not build facilities big enough or fast enough to keep up with what God wants to do!
- Q: What is the greatest challenge in living out this both/and approach?
- A: The greatest challenge is continuing to develop more and better leaders and more and better artists. If we do those two fundamental things well we will be able to not only reproduce sites and churches but whole networks!
- Q: What advice to you have for other church leaders who want to reproduce both sites and churches?
- A: First, you need to dream big! If you have a big dream that will cause you to ask more and more profound questions. The smaller the dream the less profound the questions. And if the dream is big it will also cause you to be more dependent on God. Our dream at CCC is to have 200 sites in Chicago and mobilize 100,000 3C Christ Followers. That dream has me asking lots of questions and totally dependent on God! Secondly, you need to start small. Start with yourself and realize that you will reproduce who you are. Can’t get around that one. After that, you need to start small by getting a plan for continually reproducing leaders and artists. Every reproducing church needs to create an internal and external pipleline for developing more and better leaders and artists.