In the last four years our church has launched four new campuses. I feel like the fourth time we finally did it right, with our communication, support team, and systems working together well. The key to getting this right was one simple concept—weekly launch team meetings. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a moment. First, I want to tell you how we came upon this simple concept. Read the rest of this entry
How do you include children in small groups? There’s lots of different ways to do this and the best approach varies a lot depending on how many children there are, what ages they are, and even what their personalities are.
I’m going to tell you the simple pattern that we have used most often. This pattern assumes that most of the children are over four years old and that there are not a lot of babies and toddlers. I am outlining the format using the “5 W’s” of a great small group meeting that are explained in chapter six of my book Small Groups/Big Impact. If you are familiar with the 5 W’s, you’ll notice, however, that the order of them is changed.
Opening Question (Welcome)
Start the group with an icebreaker question. Children love answering icebreaker questions. By including them in this part of the meeting Read the rest of this entry
There are just four books written on doing multisite church. I have benefitted immensely from all of them and commend them to you as four excellent guides for your multisite journey. To succeed with multisite there’s a lot you need to learn, and these books are a great starting point. Here they are:
- The Multi-site Church Revolution, by Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird (Zondervan, 2006). This is the original book on MS and it’s still the one I recommend as people’s first read. It is very well-researched, well-written, and practical, and it answers the key questions that everyone has. (Geoff Surratt’s humor also makes his writing a fun read!)
- Multi-site Churches: Guidance for the Movement’s Next Generation, by Scott McConnell (B & H Publishing, 2009). This delightful book also is grounded in extensive research and covers the why and how of MS. I especially like
If your church is getting serious about using a multisite strategy to reach more people for Christ, one of the first questions you’ll probably ask is, “Where should we start a new campus?” To answer that question I am going to outline three ways churches have picked places and then I’ll tell you our church’s approach.
- Opportunity-Driven. Some churches’ decision on where to start another campus has been driven by opportunities. For example, the Rocky Mountain Vineyard Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, decided to start a campus in nearby Windsor when an exceptional facility became available there. This opportunity presented the question, should we start a campus in this place and as they prayed and talked about it, they concluded, “yes.” They launched the new campus six weeks later. Opportunities come in many forms. Perhaps Read the rest of this entry
Why do multisite church? Why should your church spend the time, effort and expense to launch new campuses in new locations? I want to share three key reasons, based on our church’s experience, why you should seriously consider using a multisite strategy.
We began our multisite journey motivated by two facts. First, we learned that other churches were using multisite as an effective strategy to launch new congregations. Many people who do not want to be senior pastors or church planters have the necessary skills to be great campus pastors. So by adopting a multisite approach a greater pool of leaders is available to launch new Jesus-centered faith communities.
Second, when we surveyed our church members several years ago we discovered that 25% of our worship service attenders were driving more than 20 miles to our weekend services and that those driving these longer distances were significantly less likely to serve in a ministry, to be in a small group, and to invite unchurched friends to our services, groups or activities. This looked very dysfunctional to us because
I work with campus pastors weekly and was an interim campus pastor for a year, so I think I’ve got a fairly good handle on this. (The answer to this question will vary somewhat, however, based on how different churches are doing multisite.)
First, I want to say that there are some significant things a campus pastor is freed from that other solo pastors and church planters must do.
Because a campus pastor is part of a larger church, he or she does not have to
My favorite small group curriculum right now, the one I find myself recommending over and over to small group leaders, is Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. I love it. It’s a six-session DVD curriculum on how to connect with God through simple spiritual disciplines.
There are two reasons I love it so much. First, the content is great. Barton makes spiritual practices so accessible and doable. She puts the cookies on a low shelf. In my opinion, the book is kind of a “Spiritual Disciplines for Dummies,” so to speak, which I really appreciate. The second reason I like the DVD curriculum so much is that it minimizes the length of the video segments and maximizes learning and practicing the disciplines. Each session has two short video segments—the first one is on the principles or disciplines themselves and is followed by discussion. The second segment explains how to do a discipline, and then you practice it.
The exercises work! People really encounter God, which is cool and moving.
There are actually three components to the curriculum. First, there is the DVD, which is great and costs just $31.99. Second, there is a “Participant’s Guide,” Read the rest of this entry
Our church is launching its sixth campus later this month in Charleston, IL. Since we’ve done this a few times before, other churches are asking us how you launch a new multisite campus. Here’s how we do it.
- Identify a multisite pastor. Our church uses a very leader-centric strategy. We do not start new campuses in the most “logical” places. We do not look at which outlying towns are the largest or where we already have the most members to form a core. We look for a leader with a passion and calling for a certain place and that is where we focus. I’ll write in a future blog on how to identify the right leader. For now, I’ll just give you the key principle. The primary training ground for future campus pastors (and church planters) is leading and multiplying small groups. That is where we look for success and proven leadership.
- Start small groups, gather people, and pray. We want to see a few small groups in a town or area before seriously considering a new campus. We also want to see a team of people who are praying for that community and the emerging work there. Besides regular home groups we often
For most churches we are just launching a new church year. For the first blog entry of the year I want to focus on the dynamic that my researched revealed as the most important element for a church’s small group system’s health and growth—the effective coaching of your leaders. Coaching is pivotal whether you are overseeing small group leaders, ministry directors, church planters, pastors, or any type of leaders.
How can you be a high impact coach? Here’s my advice based on what I have discovered both through research and my practical experience
- Pray for your leaders. James writes, “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) Jesus declares, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24) Pray for each of your leaders by name. A couple times a year I give each of my leaders a 3×5 index card and tell them to write down the things they want me to pray for their ministry and their personal life. I also use and really like the PrayerPartner iPhone app.
- Get your leaders together. While it’s very effective to meet with leaders one-on-one, it’s also more time consuming. Read the rest of this entry
To have a thriving small group ministry, you need leaders that are envisioned, encouraged, and motivated. The main way that you give your leaders the vision and encouragement that they need is through great small group leader meetings.
Unfortunately many churches struggle to do these meetings right and consequently their leadership meetings have minimal impact and are poorly attended. Doing great leader meetings isn’t that complicated, however. Here’s my advice on how do do them right…
- Provide food. Anytime you offer a meal it significantly increases attendance and fellowship. This involves some cost but it’s a small part of your overall budget and investing in your leaders is the best ministry investment you can make.
- Offer childcare. Probably many of your leaders have children. If you offer childcare, you’ll get a lot more of them there. Read the rest of this entry