I did an interview today with Outreach Magazine about the future of the multi-site church movement. One interesting thing about doing an interview is that when you get good questions it causes you to think about a topic differently. For example, Andrea of Outreach Magazine asked me, “What do you see in the future of the multi-site movement?” A couple things came to mind:
We Will See an Emergence of Reproducing Networks – Once a church truly commits to being a church with multiple sites that church has been infected by the reproducing virus. Symptoms of the reproducing virus are that a church begins to value the edge more than the center; it begins to value the new more than the old and the lost more than the found. Once a church is infected the virus can’t be killed and must run it’s course which means moving beyond reproducing new sites to reproducing new churches and for those with the leadership capacity reproducing whole networks.
We Will See Church Brands That Are Attractive to the Unchurched – I’m in conversation now with a branding expert about developing the CCC brand so that when we launch a new CCC site an unchurched person in that community will respond, “If CCC is coming to my community I want to check it out”. I know of no church that currently has a brand that compelling; but I believe there will be in the future. Starbucks has such a compelling brand that when it opens a new site even people who are not coffee drinkers are inclined to say, “I’ve heard so much about it, I just want to experience it for myself.” In the future there will be multi-site churches who develop the kind of brand power that people who are far from God will inclined to say, “I’ve heard so much about that church, I just want to experience it for myself.”
Andrea from Outreach wanted to pursue this further and asked me, “What would it take for a church to develop a brand so compelling that it’s attractive to the unchurched?” Great question! I believe a couple things will be necessary for the unchurched to be really intrigued by a church:
- A Commitment to Community Transformation – The unchurched will not take notice or be impressed with great worship service for the simple reason they will never experience one because they are unchurched (they are outside the church – obvious?) But the unchurched are a part of a community and when a church is externally focused and sees itself as a servant of the community even the unchurched will hear about it from others, read about it in the news and see it for themselves. When a church is mobilizing it’s people to make a difference in the schools, local businesses and through partnership with other non-profits the unchurched will be thrilled to hear about a new site coming to their community.
- An Accessible Experience with God – If community transformation is really happening through a local church I believe that the unchurched will respond with “I’ve heard so much about this church, I just want to experience it for myself.” If thier first experience of church is in a small group, a ministry team or a celebration service – in every venue we must be prepared to assist them in experiencing God. How? With relationships that are real; worship that is understandable and teaching that is practical. When we do those things we keep our selves and our stuff out of the way and people far from God will find their way back.
What do you think? Some of this I have been thinking about for a while and a little of it just came to me as I was talking on the phone with Andrea. How would you have answered these questions if you were being interviewed?