Last week we talked about the new multi-site church movement that's happening all over the country, and specifically about Seacoast Church in the southeastern part of the USA.
The brand new book "The Multi-Site Church Revolution" by Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon and Warren Bird talks in depth about this phenomenon, and I recommend it to anyone who's interested.
Most churches are familiar with the multiple services format (i.e. 9am & 11am.) Multi-site can be thought of as an extension of this idea.
There are two points I'd like to make that might help churches to prepare and participate in this new wave.
1. You don't have to be a mega-church to be multi-site. You can replicate yourself and reach the community in other, less costly and time-intensive ways. Imagine small home churches that are in cahoots with a larger church, sharing resources and maybe even the pastor's video sermon or podcast. Or how about an office Bible study that's supported by a larger ministry.
The Biblical idea of "church" does not mean a physical building with sanctuary, pulpit and organ, but the Body of Christ. I like how Hillsong London leadership addressed the congregation as "church" when I recently visited (as in "church, we need to reach out to others..." etc.) When you stop thinking buildings and start thinking outside the box, the possibilities are endless.
The multi-site book I mentioned talks about a fire station church! "North Little Rock fireman Jeff West attended an equipping class about taking his faith to his community and workplace. The class was taught at his church, Fellowship Bible Church of Little Rock, Arkansas.
"Jeff's mind went immediately to the community he knew best: firefighters. 'What about fire stations?' he thought, aware that a lot of firefighters are stuck at their firehouses on Sundays. Jeff also knew that his church would soon be opening a video venue on campus. 'Why couldn't we do the same thing in our firehouses?' he asked himself." The book goes on to tell of how Jeff's vision became reality - in 2005 the church was supporting up to 20 local fire station churches!"
2. The multi-site revolution will be a call for churches to get their act together. You hear much whining in the press about how Walmart is destroying mom and pop stores all over the country (my, how we Americans love to whine!) In nearly every issue of a Christian retailing magazine I read letters from mom and pop Christian bookstores who bemoan the fact that big-box stores are putting them out of business.
Walmart isn't exactly guiltless, but what you might not realize is that many of these little stores don't have the business sense to stay open past 5 o'clock, or don't sell some contemporary Christian music because it's "too worldly." By the time these stores realize we're living in the 21st century it's often too late - as a customer, I just might want to shop at 9pm and pick up the latest Kutlass CD.
Likewise, churches, if you insist on operating like it's 1963, you might not be too long for this world. If you're just now considering using contemporary music in your worship, you're 20 years behind. If your church is full of politics that strangle your ministry, you just might be put "out of business" by churches who are more concerned with seeing people reached for Christ.
As a blogger put it on the WorshipIdeas blogsite last week, "I have to wonder when we will start supporting each other and leave all the tearing down aside. It might be a good idea to go visit a multisite video church, sit through an entire service or two and even speak to some of the members before deciding that these newfangled churches are superficial and kind of like a social club."
Love it or hate it, we're living in a new world.
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