7) Why Multi-Site Is A Biblical Model

Multi-site churches have been effective.

They are not without problems, sometimes caused by an overly aggressive strategy or a merely pragmatic approach to church leadership. It is certainly proper to ask: is this approach even valid for Biblical Christians? Is there at least a hint of doing church this way in the New Testament? Shouldn't churches stay together?

"The New Testament nowhere demands that a local church meet all together each week. Nor is a single service assembly the only model given in Acts. While it is certainly true that we see evidences of local churches assembling all together (1 Corinthians 11), we also see evidence of single local churches which met in multiple locations. The new congregation in Jerusalem is frequently referred to in the singular, one "church" (Acts 8:1; 11:22; 15:4). However, they obviously had to meet in different times and locations. Historians tell us there was no space in Jerusalem available to the disciples in which three thousand or more people could have met on a weekly basis. It also appears that many first-century house churches came together to celebrate the Lords supper as one citywide church (see 1 Cor 11:17–20; Romans 16:5)." --JD Greear (in the 9Marks Journal. May/June 2009. © 9Marks. Website: www.9Marks.org. Email: info@9marks.org)
A mega-church with a mega-campus is attractive with it's programs. Many existing Christians flock to a large campus. But is that the best stewardship of God's resources? But a multi-site church may be a better way to display the unity of Christians in a city, while reaching into diverse neighborhoods and people-groups.

Other multi-site proponents highlight: increased evangelistic effectiveness, easier leadership development, financially effective church growth, benefits of big/small churches in community life, and shared mercy/mission work.

If Silicon Valley needs 200+ churches at least and we are willing to help God's Kingdom expand, then why not function through a variety of models at the same time? Imagine a network of churches: six of them have three sites each, two are regional campuses, one has ten multi-sites locations, fifteen are small churches in non-English speaking neighborhoods. Twice a year, all of those members gather for a great celebration! The gospel is changing this corner of the world. Jesus is praised.

Next, we'll count the costs and see what it takes to launch a second site.
As always, we welcome your response, questions and feedback. Discuss below, or contact any pastor or elder directly.


6) Steps to Multi-Site

So... when are we going multi-site? When are we launching the new site? Leaders hear that type of question often. It's a great question, especially for people who are in the different multi-site teams.

The answer is not a specific date, but rather a series of events. As we move forward from one to the next, we become more ready and we see God bless the process.
  • Select Leaders and Start Planning: site director, launch teams meet. DONE
  • Communication: Catalyst meetings (DONE). Info meetings. Whole church understands. IN PROCESS
  • Outreach Events: New people are gathered to participate
  • Budget: We understand and agree to the costs
  • Staff Adjustments: We adapt staff job descriptions

If those things can happen, we should meet as church and vote to proceed to STEP TWO. At that point, we can pick a desired launch date. Good launch date options are: September 1, November 1, late January, one month before Easter.

  • Gathering Events: More outreach and community building. Vision for mission and community
  • Site Selection: Location is chosen and negotiated
  • Site Preparation: Equipment, Signs, Worship materials, Children's Supplies, Admin
  • Ministries Staffed: Ongoing ministries recruit and train volunteers

Goal is to prepare for the final month of effort before launch

  • Launch Invitations are sent: mailings, personal invites, other means
  • Finalize Preparations: practice onsite ministries, ways to include new people
  • Preview Service: one week to launch

Next, we'll pause to consider the Biblical model and the benefits of a multi-site church.
As always, we welcome your response, questions and feedback. Discuss below, or contact any pastor or elder directly.


5) Why Now?

The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. I Samuel 2:4

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Are we ready as a church to do this? Even if we're convinced about the need and the call to move forward, we still have to recognize that committing to expanding the Kingdom of God is a challenge.

In one sense, it is tempting to list the ways that may make our church seem unprepared. In the midst of conversations about multi-site some descriptions might be brought out: "We're not strong enough or mature enough." "We don't have stable finances or long-term relationships." "We're pretty good at communicating the gospel and bringing up new leaders, but we could a lot better." "We long to be agents of mercy and compassion, but we talk about it more than we act."

From a practical standpoint, those are important elements in declaring any church 'not ready'. On the other hand, that's the perfect place to be at. It forces us to ask other questions and see beneath the surface.

There are deeper things to discern that show God's work inside his church. We need to lead from a place of dependence on Christ, rather than our human strength. We need to discern our motives and abilities to be God's Kingdom agents. We need to gather the new gifts that God gives his church through people that have not served before.

What we look for as evidence of God's work among us?
  • More prayer happening spontaneously.
  • A hunger to grow and serve at the same time.
  • Greater personal and community boldness.
  • New people plugged into the community
  • New people coming to faith as followers of Jesus

As we look to those deeper questions, we can see God at work. Each of these five things are happening. More people are praying in groups for mission, many new people are using their gifts to serve God's kingdom, a boldness in the gospel is building, people are plugging into community in greater numbers and we're seeing an increase in new commitments of faith.

Are these evidences of fruit happening enough to say "launch!" Perhaps not yet, but the process of preparation is one of the means that God is using to build these fruit in our midst. We grow in maturity as we move closer toward this dream.

Next, we'll look at some of the key stages (and decision points) of becominge a multi-site church.
As always, we welcome your response, questions and feedback. Discuss below, or contact any pastor or elder directly.


The All-Sufficient God

Sermons in May were a helpful encouragement to all of us as we walk through the most challenging years of our generation. Economic challenges are hard for Silicon Valley people to deal with. Not because we're generally better off than other areas, which makes it easier for many. It's harder because we're accustomed to a culture of self-sufficiency.

What happens when we are no longer sufficient? Followers of Jesus believe that God himself is truly all-sufficient. He works in times of joy and sorrow, in plenty and want. Believing and applying God's all-sufficient care is a way to guide each other in times of challenge.

If you missed any of them, they can be found here:
May 31 '09Why Worry?Matthew 6:25-34MP3
May 24 '09Spiritual DrynessPsalm 42; 43MP3
May 23 '09Joy in the JourneyDeuteronomy 8:1-9MP3
May 10 '09Through FireIsaiah 43:1-4MP3
May 3 '09Comfort2 Corinthians 1:3-11MP3

For more practical help: David Powlison, a wise counselor, teacher and writer at CCEF, posted a series of articles about Worry. The articles begin here>.


4) Revival

What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?
It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden.
It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches. Luke 13:18
I will build my church. Matthew 16:18

The Great Awakening in the early eighteenth century is one example of God's mighty hand. Within a decade, around ten percent of America and England had a genuine conversion to Christian belief. These people filled churches to overflowing and launched many new agencies of missions and caring.

If a similar revival happened here, nearly 200,000 people would be added to the churches. God leads these revivals; he renews his churches; he brings vitality to his people; he convicts people of their brokenness and enlivens people with his mercy; he softens hard hearts and heals tender souls. No one is ever prepared for such a powerful outbreak of the Spirit.

The South Bay could easily benefit from 100-200 new churches. Today.

What kind of churches? Churches in different neighborhoods, different languages, different socio-economic groups. Churches that serve the poor, care for the aged, reach people ravaged by drugs and violence, affect the spiritually impoverished, communicate to the cynic and skeptic, support families crumbling under stress and materialism, integrate the immigrant, and unite creative Christians to serve the need of the world.

In many ways, for Grace Church to expand from one to two sites is a significant step. It can seem overwhelming and monumental from our narrow perspective. From the scope of the mission in our area, it's nearly unnoticeable. It is but one small step toward a greater vision.

Richard Lovelace, church historian, notices several common preconditions to revival: a deeper awareness of the holiness of God (his love and justice) combined with a deeper awareness of the depth of sin (personally and in communities). When Christians, in renewed hunger for God, grasp the gospel more deeply, the Spirit brings about dramatic changes in the church and surrounding culture. Revival-era Christians apply the gospel more thoroughly. They live out of justification (grace acceptance), sanctification (freedom from sin's bondage), indwelling Spirit (union with God), and Christ's authority.

In revivals, a new holy boldness erupts. Prayer gatherings often spontaneously occur. Mission is compelling, not forced. Community is formed out of desire to be together. Counter-cultural institutions are created that help renew society.

Next, we'll ask the question, "why now?" How can we know if we're ready to begin?
As always, we welcome your response, questions and feedback. Discuss below, or contact any pastor or elder directly.


3) New Church Communities

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
1Peter 2:10

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8
The first commitment for our church to unite around is a commitment to launching new church communities. We need to agree that these new bodies are part of God's plan, for his Kingdom in general and for our church.

Clearly, by any measure Silicon Valley is not a particularly Christian area. In fact, it is one of the least Christian places in North America. Estimates range from 90-95% of the people in the South Bay would not identify themselves as evangelical Christians. How would these people, nearly two million of them, understand the gospel message? Mass communication is easy to ignore, street preaching is disregarded, door-to-door evangelism is too 'cult-like' and disturbing.

What cuts through the noise of 21st century life?

A non-threating, loving, caring relationship with Christians that defy stereotypes. Christians who are gracious and not judgmental. Christians who apply a gospel worldview to their lives. And Christians who share their life in meaningful church communities.

  • These churches should understand the Bible, apply it to everyday life, build up Christians in gospel maturity.
  • They should grasp the questions and doubts of people who do not believe, and treat those people with respect.
  • Worship should be richly historic and still fresh.
  • Ministries should inspire people's gifts for serving rather than force them to serve out of pressure and guilt.
  • They should be surprisingly welcoming to outsiders without being manipulative or phony. If a member of the church invites their friends to a church like this, they should not be embarrassed, because "church" itself is intimidating to people who are not connected to churches.

Realistically, one church cannot fulfill all of these ideals. Christians are redeemed sinners; churches are filled with redeemed sinners. Nothing in this life is perfect, but a gospel saturated church community is the best environment to be honestly transformed by Jesus.

The need for new churches in the South Bay is staggering. "But there are already churches here!" is a common objection. True, and many of these churches are doing a great job of reaching out. But the vast majority are shrinking or stagnant. Even the vital churches are unable to reach the 90%+ who are not connected to Jesus. New churches reach new people and they help restore people. They go into places, like Jesus did, where there is doubt or darkness.

Next, we'll consider the role of God's spirit as he creates revival.
As always, we welcome your response, questions and feedback. Discuss below, or contact any pastor or elder directly.

[photo by evie22, flicker]