One of the important transitions over the last 30 years in the church in the West are the three shifts mentioned in the title of this blog (Mega-Multi-Micro) which is based on a recent webinar hosted by the Multiply PDX Third Thursday series. Their special guest was Ralph Moore and the theme was “Embedding Multiplication DNA in your Church Culture”. Following is a critique of what has happened that has forced the transition with a reflection question for you and your church to continue to make the shift from Mega-Multi-Micro.
Mega: When I was in my early years of ministry (1980s) I served as an intern at my home church. Skyline Wesleyan Church was one of the most innovative churches in the US at the time (see Elmer Townes book: “10 of Today’s Most Innovative Churches: What They’re Doing, How They’re Doing it & How You Can Apply Their Ideas in Your Church”). Mega churches (1,000 members and above) have obvious benefits and certain limitations. Most of all, because multiplication is not commonly built-into the DNA, mega churches will inevitably hit ceilings like: when their members outgrow facilities, when finances become a limiting factor or when the vision is not big enough. At some stage, every mega-church hits a ceiling.
- Reflection Question: How can we grow bigger by getting smaller?
Multi: In 2008, InFocus was hired to coach the 22 campus pastors of the NorthPoint Partnership Group. For the next 3 years I learned a lot about the multi-site model. Mega churches that continue to grow and eventually outgrow their home campus have gone multi. When a church reaches maximum seating capacity AND enough people drive more than 20 miles to reach the campus, new sites or campuses are launched to create more space for new church members. The critical mass needed to support the launch plus the 20 mile drive existing members make to the main campus informs the decision to launch a new campus.
- Reflection Question: How can we mobilize more leaders to start more campuses?
Micro: This model is not new but it is not the type of church that catches the attention of mainstream Christianity in the West. Two distinctions mark the micro-church . First, micro-churches prioritize multiplication, leadership development and church planting. Pastor’s of micro-churches tend to be co-vocational, learn from on-the-job-training and are entrepreneurial. Second, because micro-churches meet in homes or neutral spaces, they have low overhead. Facilities do not play a prominent role as in the Mega and Multi.
Ralph Moore shared two observations that are unique to this time in our history that present a special opportunity for the micro-church.
- This last year has changed the way American culture perceives the church. At best, the culture has ignored the church. But this last year has heightened the hostility towards the church and that trend, according to Moore, will only increase over time. Micro-churches allow churches to operate under the radar. Imagine a church that meets in your home to gather your neighbors.
- Mega and Multi churches tend to reach homogenous groups. This presents a special opportunity for the micro-church. Flexibility, focus and intentionality of reaching affinity groups are traits of the micro-church.
- Reflection Question: How can we reach affinity groups that are ignored by the existing churches in our community?
Will the Mega and Multi-site church cease to exist?
This is a hard question to answer. Here is my critique on what will continue to happen with the church in the West. From the work of Ralph Neighbors and others, the church of the future will be bigger AND smaller. In the US though we have not hit the scale that other countries have experienced. Larger churches on the global scale are in the 100s of thousands – see Global Megachuches by Leadership Network. AND churches will get smaller. Cell churches, micro-churches, and house churches are examples of how the church will continue to get smaller. A better question in my estimation is the place of the mid-size church and how it fits into the landscape of the church in the West in the future? That in my opinion, is the challenge for the future.
If you would like to view the webinar in it’s entirety – CLICK HERE.
Check-out Ralph Moore’s book on a modern-day church multiplication movement in the West!
Right now, you and I must be creative in our efforts to discover inspiration.
If you listen to the typical news report, read the latest updates on what is going on in the world and allow your mind to focus on reasons to be fearful – those messages can be less than motivational. It can be downright depressing. Or in my darker moments, they just feel evil.
Today I want to ask this question: Where do you find inspiration?
You might be in the throws of finding the right path to navigate complex issues of ministry. For instance, now that you have “righted” the ship and are discovering how to conduct a hybrid ministry; you might be asking yourself how long will this last. Of course, no one knows the answer to this question. Theologically you hold to the inspiration found in Jesus’s ministry, the Psalms and the writing’s of the Apostle Paul. In the moments when all odds stand against you, your leadership and even your family – the Word is our source of inspiration.
AND in the midst of challenges it is essential that you grab onto sources of inspiration that force you to see God in a new ways. One way I find inspiration is through mountain biking. It provides a needed distraction, forcing me to consider life and ministry from a fresh perspective. I enjoy riding with my wife. Mountain biking provides companionship with Gina, breathing life into my weary soul and tired body. Afterwards, I see things differently. It puts events into it’s proper perspective. Inevitably, I discover a new insight I did not have before the ride. Most important is the gratitude I feel when I realize how big God is and how small our world is and my place in it!
Where do you find inspiration?
In the next month we are launching three Leadership Collectives. One of the take-aways for leaders that experience the Leadership Collectives is the inspiration they receive throughout the process. Please look there over and if you have anyone in your network that might benefit – share it!
Current Champion League Champs, Liverpool FC with their manager Jurgen Klopp, celebrated a historic fifth championship last year (the tournament started in 1956). This year they won the English Premiership (arguable the most competitive league in the world) with the following accomplishments, if they continue their dominance in the weeks ahead:
- the most points ever earned by a team
- the most wins
- the greatest margin between themselves and their nearest rivals, during the modern era.
Their celebration affirmed their supremacy in the footballing (aka soccer) world. What is the genius behind Klopp’s approach? His trademark hugs to players when coming off the field, following a match and winning trophies go a long way in affirming what he values. But there is something more going on here.
In a recent Men in Blazers interview with Klopp, he was asked what really matters. His response was noteworthy – I summarize here. At the end of our lives I don’t believe we will be asked how many trophies we’ve won; however, I do think it matters what we have done with what we were given. Absolutely, every day I strive to make the most of every opportunity. What matters for me is that my players have given their best every time they step on the field.
This is what Klopp is affirming. The wins, trophies make a difference; but it is the mentality of “leaving everything on the field”, is what matters most. And is one reason Liverpool FC is the dominate club in the world today!
Back in my seminary days (1985-1988) I distinctly remember a chapel service when a guest speaker, George Patterson, come in to share his methodology of disciplemaking. The speaker was energetic and engaging – disarming in his presentation style. Most of all – CHALLENGING “the win” for missionaries, church planters and pastors.
George Patterson was a missionary in Honduras where he discovered a radical (meaning “root” or “returning to the foundation of something) approach to disciplemaking and church multiplication.
Read more about George Patterson
George Patterson spent 21 years in Central America training pastors to make disciples in a New Testament fashion that rapidly multiplies churches. In Honduras he began by training pastors in a traditional, resident Bible Institute with poor results. With the advice of more experienced missionaries and much trial and error, he later saw churches multiply through the instrumentality of “Theological Education and Evangelism by Extension” (TEEE). This non-formal pastoral training resulted in about 100 new churches over twenty years in northern Honduras. This is as a result of the Biblical discipleship and church reproduction principles Dr. Patterson implemented. This model is now used with similar results in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well in the United States, and is distributed as Train & Multiply TM. George’s teaching style relies heavily on student involvement in role-plays and exercises that bring learning to life. He is hilarious and hyper-energetic in the classroom.
George was “rewarding” or affirming disciples who were making disciples AND planting churches through their disciplemaking efforts. It was inspiring and captivating. Near the end he role modeled an exercise that involved students as he went through the 5-step disciplemaking/leadership development process:
- I do – you watch
- You do – with me
- You do – I watch
- You do – without me
- You do – with someone else
Church Multiplication Guide by George Patterson & Richard Scoggins
George clearly communicated the “win”: disciples making disciples + churches planting churches. His explanation communicated that these outcomes were celebrated, affirmed and rewarded in culturally appropriate ways.
I will never forget this principle.
Closer to home, we might “reward” behaviors or achievements in ministry: baptisms, budget and buildings. Whatever those things are – we intentionally or unintentionally exalt or lift-up. Certain things recieve more air-time and attention, than others.
I remember the story a pastor shared, illustrating the importance he and the congregation at his previous church placed on Sunday morning worship attendance. The pastor set a numerical goal for the year for new visitors to attend a worship service. The morning of the final count the pastor realized he was 1 person short of their goal. He explained how he went to the local gas station the morning of, and convinced an employee to join him and attend service that morning. The employee did so and the congregation celebrated that accomplishment of the milestone together.
You might not reward Sunday morning worship attendance. But you might take a look at how your people are demonstrating behaviors of a disciple. Here is a short list of disciplemaking characteristics you might track:
- Sharing faith
- Acts of Service
- Sacrificial Giving
Whatever that thing is, it is important for people to see what you and your church affirm, prioritize and reward.
5 questions to reflect on the “win” for your ministry
- How would you describe a “win” in your ministry?
- What are you rewarding in ministry?
- How are you rewarding people when they “win”?
- If your current “win” is not in alignment with your vision, what needs to change?
- What step can you take to affirm the “win” in your ministry, this week?
Of all the areas that will contribute to a healthy church, small groups are one of the most impactful. In fact, in the book Natural Church Development, under the section of Holistic Small Groups, you will discover an interesting factoid based on the data measuring over 170 variables. The most important element contributing to the growth of the church, based on over 4.2 million survey answers, is the multiplication of small groups. It is the environment where all of the elements of a healthy church interplay. Below are two things great small groups do to make more and better disciples.
Provide Excellent Pastoral Care
We can tell story after story from our church community of how people have been cared for during difficult times in their life. Helping a cancer patient die with dignity, supporting a newly widowed mom through the sudden loss of her husband – while still caring for her young ones, loving divorced spouses to move on, helping a parent hope again after losing a child; and the list goes on and on. The beauty is the first person, people in our church call when they are in need is their small group leader OR better yet, members of their small group.
Robust Leadership Development Process
Highly relational coaches provide the support, encouragement and training to develop small group leaders in our church community. We have an orientation session that lasts a couple of hours for new small group leaders. But training happens “just in time” as leaders lead their group. I’ve found that the periodic calls we receive from our coach gives the level of support needed in about 90% of the situations we find ourselves. The remaining 10% need pastoral intervention when the situation warrants it; but that is not the norm.
Recently we kicked-off the fall Small Group season in our church community. You can see more of what we do in small groups when you CLICK HERE. When I asked our pastor, Steve Redden, the key to the small group DNA at Crosspoint he said two things stand out:
- From day one, small groups were the priority and no other ministries compete on the same evening as small groups.
- From day one, Steve has led a small group focused on new people with the intent of handing leadership over to an emerging leader from the group, so that he and his wife can start a new group.
Small groups that provide excellent pastoral care and a robust leadership development process are contributing to the vision – more and better disciples. Multiplication at the most fundamental level of disciplemaking and small groups is a good thing! These helpful tips are intended for you if you are wondering where to start or the next step you need to take to move your small group ministry forward.
Thirty years ago, you would have searched hard to find a resource on church planting. There were a few; but one of the first resources to have had broad appeal was The Church Planter’s Toolkit by Bob Logan & Steve Ogne. This work set the standard for all of the church planting resources to follow.
If you conduct a search today on Amazon, you will find more than 1,000 titles on the topic. Many of them are worth reading. Few are worth referring back to again and again.
The Church Planting Journey by Bob Logan is an important read. It is the updated version of “The Toolkit”, You will want to digest this information and refer back to if your are a(n):
- aspiring church planter
- new church planter
- veteran church planter
- parent church leaders
- coach of church planters
I know, church planting feels like it is a new idea. Look into church history and you will find all lasting revivals had a multiplication movement of organic church planting at it’s core. Go further back, you will find the blueprint for the mission of the church in the book of Acts.
With so much literature available today on the topic, I would suggest that, The Church Planting Journey is the one you will want to have on your shelf.
There is so much on the topic of leadership that it is overwhelming to know where to start. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start; help is not that far away. Over the last 30+ years I’ve learned that leaders need two things to grow:
1.) A clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses
2.) A clear developmental path to follow
In this free webinar you will learn the essential areas for a leader to develop and a path to follow to grow your skills.
CLICK HERE for more information.