Back in 1998 when we first became multi-site church we all had a sense that God was doing a brand new thing. We knew that this was not just about Community Christian Church, instead this was a way to reach more people for the Jesus mission. We tried to get the attention of all the usual suspects, but we were told “until we start seeing other churches doing this we are not sure this is reproducible model…wait before you tell your story.” This appealed to conventional wisdom, but the truth is we were right – there was emerging a multi-site movement; a new thing that God was doing and the story needed to be told.
Well, I have that same feeling that we had back in ’98 – this time it is about reproducing church planting networks led by mega churches! Mark my words on this one! I had one of the more interesting meetings on Monday that included a remarkable group: Todd Wilson of Passion 4 Planting, Tom Jones, Editor of Church Planting from the Ground Up, Mark Leeper of Stadia, Steve Johnson of VIsion USA, Lance Ford of GlocalNet, John Wasem of Emmanuel School of Religion, Brent Storms of Orchard Group along with myself and Jon Ferguson representing the NewThing Network. Everyone in the meeting agreed that “there is nervous excitement about God doing a new thing in church planting.” We also agreed to a person that the next new thing is reproducing church planting networks and many will be led by mega churches. As I think about it, several factors come to mind right now that are creating this opportunity:
1. Mega Churches Going Multi-Site – The majority of mega churches are either multi-site or have plans to go multi-site. When these church go to multiple sites it is not just about reproducing sites. If they are successful at reproducing multiple sites it is because they have become a reproducing church. And a reproducing church means they are reproducing at every level: leaders, artists, small groups, services, sites and…yes, eventually new churches! In short, if you are successful at going to multiple sites you have infected your church with the reproducing virus and it is only a time til you get church planting fever.
2. Acknowledgment of “Platform” Organizations – Organizations such as Leadership Network, Willow Creek Association and others are looking to create a platform of influence for innovative churches. They are now seeing these reproducing networks as an emerging trend among mega churches. As a handful of these leading edge churches get acknowledged a healthy competition will motivate many other mega churches to also start their own reproducing networks.
3. National New Church Conference – check out the line up and see how many of these reproducing church planting networks are led by mega churches and their lead pastor – Acts 29/Mark Driscoll; GlocalNet/Bob Roberts; Vision 20-20/Steve Andrews our own NewThing Network and more! Other examples of mega churches with reproducing church planting networks are New Hope/Wayne Cordiero and Redeemer/Tim Keller. I’ll be attending a special dinner presentation by Ed Stetzer who claims there are now 58 reproducing networks. I have a hunch that a growing percentage of those will be lead by mega churches.
Agree? Disagree? What do you see as the next “new thing”?