Our testimonies give permission for others to walk in similar victories. Don’t rob someone’s victory by withholding your testimony.
Aside from trying to answer my children on why I have more hair on my chest that I do on top of my head, one of the questions people ask me the most is, “How do you manage to do all that you do?”
While I’m always honored that my conduct is worth asking about, the question has a few inherent flaws. One of those is assuming that I’m faithful to all the things I need to get done. For every one thing someone sees, there are dozens more that need attention. And I carry that reverently, as everything worth doing has a person on the other side of it.
But with regard to the question itself, we need to make sure we break it down more accurately.
Reading It Right
Don’t confuse productivity with capacity and support.
It’s dangerous to compare ourselves to others. But analyzing peoples methods can often be thought-provoking, informative and convicting. So it’s worth investigating when you’re able to rub shoulders with someone whom you admire.
How Much Can You Carry?
It’s important to recognize that some people are born with a higher natural capacity to produce things than others. They have certain gifts and natural dispositions that lend to high output lifestyles. My senior pastor, Kirk Gilchrist, has a natural gift of leadership. I try and emulate it as best I can, but what I have to work for, he has naturally.
You can work toward having a greater natural capacity but, ultimately, capacity has to do with how you’re put together.
The greatest thing you can do to increase your capacity is allow yourself to be stretched. And this isn’t exactly a warm-fuzzy process. It will test the limits of your patience, stamina, stress thresholds, memory and relationships. This doesn’t mean you take on fifty things, just the next thing. This means that you’ll operate within your own natural capacity, not someone else’s, and then look to the next step that makes you uncomfortable, not the next thirty steps.
Who’s On Their Team?
Very often, we see what’s attributed to one person when in reality it was created by many people.
Most people who produce a lot have amazing support systems in place. Movies are great examples of this. The main actor or director usually gets the red carpet treatment. But sit through the credits of the next film you enjoy, and really think through all the faces that go with each of those names.
These key supporters allow producers to offer more than what they’re able to do on their own. This is a quality of leadership, and should not be confused with someone’s natural ability to create or carry something. One of the only reasons I’m able to appear to do all that I do is because of those who’ve partnered with me. Accordingly, it’s become of one of my personal goals to shower them with as much praise and recognition as I can. They deserve it, and so much more.
Be a Voracious Learner
The best that we can do is glean from people’s habits and try to apply them to ourselves where possible.
What time people get up and go to sleep, how they treat their bodies and what feed their spirits, what they’re reading, how often they take breaks, interact with others, deal with stress, they lead their teams, take criticism, delegate, craft, adhere to timelines and engage in the creative process are all examples of things we can learn regardless of our natural capacities or current support structures.
Monitor your capacity and honor your supporters.
Giving stuff away is amazing. Way better than getting something yourself. (It’s almost like Jesus knew what he was talking about).
Jennifer and I had the honor of representing Guitars For Glory during our recent trip to Guatemala last month. This meant surprising three people with brand new guitars. We made sure the cameras were rolling, and managed to produce something we’re all proud of. (Thank you, Sprig Music).
Sure, who wouldn’t like a free guitar?
But what the documentary doesn’t show is all the back-story behind the recipients. Like how Rudy’s father abandoned his family for the US, and Rudy was left to be provider for his four siblings and mother; today, he’s a pillar in his family and his church. Or Roger, who’s given himself fully to educating children, and makes in one year what I make in three weeks. Then there’s Willy, who’s always wanted to lead people in worship on guitar, but knew it’d be impossible, seeing as how it’d take him and his entire family over a decade to save up enough combined money to buy one.
The stories are real. The tears are real. Because the people are real.
And that’s the power we have as being part of the world’s wealthiest people.
Please watch the video. Then thoughtfully consider three things:
1.) Giving to Guitars For Glory so they can continue to spread the message of hope in Jesus through music.
2.) Sponsor a child with Inn Ministries, our hosting organization in Guatemala. I can’t say enough about these people. They’re the real deal, and you’re having a daily impact on children when you give toward their education.
3.) Let me know what you think—about all this. I’d love to hear.
You were born to rock. So get to it.
“This new car is such a blessing.”
“Finally closed on the house. Feeling blessed.”
“Just got back from a mission trip. Realizing how blessed we are here in this country.”
On the surface, the phrase seems harmless. Faithful even. Why wouldn’t I want to give God the glory for everything I have? Isn’t that the right thing to do?
Read Scott Dannemiller’s [convicting] full story here. Then let me know what you think. What you perceive is a blessing may actually be the burden that you need to steward on behalf of others.
God is not for the underdog, he’s for the faithful.
“I like you.”
Those three words sent chills down my 5th grade spine. It made me do crazy things, like circle “yes” on a ruled sheet of notebook paper that read, “Do you like me back?” and pass it through the hands of four friends to a blushing girl.
Being liked is powerful stuff. It makes politicians bend their convictions, and actors turn their heads.
But not being liked is just as powerful. In fact, the desire to be liked by those who don’t like you can be one of life’s most dangerous motivators. The more we try and appease the myriad of voices that sing our praise or ridicule, the more we tend to abandon our primary purposes. We become un-true to ourselves.
When All Eyes Are On You
As a pastor, I have the honor of wading into the arena of theology, and engaging—whether I want to or not—with everyone else’s personal pet doctrines. As a business man, I never run my businesses the way everyone else thinks I should, from employee to patron. And as an artist, I never communicate “it” quite the way everyone else would like me to.
No matter what arena you’re in, if you stand for something, someone’s bound not to like you. And if you have any ounce of humanity, you’ll at least think about how to get them to like you. I know I do.
Being liked isn’t bad; but trying to be liked by everyone is.
Because it’s impossible.
The transient nature of the human opinion is decidedly insecure. I believe it could be one of the sandy foundations Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:26-27:
But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
Who Matters Most?
If being liked is an unavoidable goal of the heart—which anyone who says it isn’t, doesn’t have a heart—make sure you’re liked by the people who matter most.
I want my wife to like me. I want to know what she thinks. Her opinion matters a great deal. A thousand people can tell me I did a good job, but if she disagrees, then I did a poor job; similarly, the masses can say I was terrible, but her one word of affirmation can silence them all.
I want my kids to like me. Not loathe me. It doesn’t mean I don’t make the hard call, but it means that when I do, I do it lovingly. Part of my legacy is making sure their memories of me have integrity—that when they think back on me, they realize I was trying to model as much of the heavenly Father as I could.
I want to know what my closest friends think, my advisors, my pastors. I covet the “likes” of the wisest people around me. In a world where “like” is a cheap button-click away, I want the hard-won, deeply fought for, dig-deep kind of like that you can’t get from a screen, but you can only get from a look in the eye.
And most of all, I want my God to like me. I want my conduct to so much reflect his, that he notices himself in me.
Like of Love
The danger is that as we cater more to the opinions of people we have no relationship with, we actually suppress the value of the people who we do have relationship with. The very ones we claim we like are the ones we’re conveying deep disinterest toward.
In the end, being liked is merely the precursor to a far more innate emotional need: being loved. And being loved is more powerful than being liked, because real love is not as conditional on what we do, but more, who we are.
Make sure you’re liked by the ones you love the most. Everyone else can afford to be upset.
Iraq isn’t in the news much anymore. At least, not the way it was in the 90s. But neither is Green Day.
So what’s current in Baghdad?
Last month alone, 1,013 people in Iraq – 795 civilians, 122 soldiers and 96 policemen – died as a result of violence.
The community of faith has certainly taken a hit too:
There were once 135,000 Jews in Iraq; only six remain. And Iraq’s Christians have fled by the hundreds of thousands in recent years. Out of 1.5 million in 2003, only around 200,000 remain. This is particularly tragic, because both the Jewish and Christian communities in Iraq are ancient and indigenous. They are neither post-colonial nor the result of Western missionary activity.
In a nation where acting like Christ comes with inherently severe consequences, you’ll be inspired by the story of a man referred to as The Vicar of Baghdad. Sound like a movie title? It should. Reverend Canon Andrew White—an Anglican priest from Great Britain, firmly planted in Iraq’s capital—does enough heart-string pulling to merit an Oscar. Only he’s not acting.
Apparently, he didn’t get the memo regarding “bunker mentality.”
What response do have when you read the words the second coming?
Or how about Armageddon?
The end of the world.
The zombie apocalypse.
Too Hollywood. I hear ya.
World financial crisis.
Famine. Drought. Insurrection.
Regardless of what you call it, if “it” was tomorrow, what’s your game plan? What’s your survival strategy?
Fortunately, I just happened to receive this lovely, well-designed email in my inbox the other day:
Clicking on it took me to a ten-minute video describing the end of civilization (which, I’ll have you know, is perpetually occurring in ten-months from whenever you read this).
Now, for the Christian, it’s right to think about death and the age to come. We’re taught to prepare for it, and instructed to tell as many people as possible that there is an inevitable appointment approaching from which no one can escape.
But if you were truthful when you started reading my opening salvo of questions (or when you got to minute three of any intense video forecasting the greatest crisis to ever hit the world in ten-months), you probably thought something much more basic:
Build a bunker.
Invest in gold bullion.
Learn how to knit mittens from the Amish family down the street.
Shoot off invaders with your .50-caliber. Unless they’re Amish. They’re pacifists and pose no immediate danger.
Listen, I’m not trying to upset those of you who are survivalists. I’m an Eagle Scout, and I love knowing that I’m equipped to take care of my family in a crisis. There’s no problem with being prepared and using your head. Train yourself and know what to do in emergencies.
But there is a problem with abandoning Jesus’ lifestyle if you’re a Christian.
I’m surprised at how often people who, at first, seem like kind, reasonable Christians suddenly transform into crazed extremists who are so irrational that they’d exchange their birthright for a bowl of soup. Or an extra MRE.
The truth is, the world has survived without guns; the Gospel is still alive and well in France. The world has even survived without three square meals a day; I’ll introduce you to personal friends who eat once a week in Africa and Latin America. And contrary to what the radio ads tell you, gold is not the best hedge against economic collapse; knowing a trade skill is.
Guns are useful, food is important, and being fiscally responsible is key. No one ever said they weren’t. But they’re all secondary to the Christ-like model Jesus demonstrated for us.
I want you to keep this little piece of trivia in mind:
Jesus left the safest, most secure location in all the universe to enter the most dangerous, putrid cesspool of humanity with no intention of survival.
Jesus’ end game was resurrection, so dying was mandatory.
If your emergency plan doesn’t include laying your life down as one of your primary action items, you might need to rethink a few things. I don’t mean the “I’m going to stand up and die for what I believe in” kind of laying your life down, I mean the “I’m going to give everything away that I own and love the worst people I can possibly find until I have nothing left to give” kind.
Jesus said that people who worry about what they’re going to eat, what they’re going to drink and what they’re going to wear are pagans, and that Christians who gravitated in that direction are of “little faith.” If you’re thinking more about surviving than giving, you might want to take an accurate faith assessment and read this.
People of great faith don’t build bunkers, they wade into the cesspool of humanity looking for someone to die for because resurrection is the only sure bet.
UPDATE: 2014.02.06 2:50 AM
I smiled as I read this morning’s YouVersion (iOS) verse of the day, which sums up my link to Jesus’ quote above nicely. I love when things come together:
And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
• Luke 12:29-31 NLT
Seek the kingdom first; everything else worth having will come afterward.
What we’ve already learned positions us for what we’re about to learn.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
• 2 Corinthians 3:18
Come further up, come further in!
• C.S. Lewis
Learn something today that your future self will thank you for tomorrow.
It’s really important to me that someone, somewhere is actually publishing sound thought in contrast to otherwise unsound behavior. No, I’m not talking about Hollywood’s behavior during last night’s Grammys in which 33 couples were married in a makeshift chapel, the majority of them homosexual. I’m talking about the responses that many Christians are having toward it.
Their criticisms don’t sound much like Jesus’ example.
Get Your Head In The Game
First, three thoughts to set this up:
1.) I can’t expect the unsaved to operate as if they’re saved. Unrighteous people do not naturally produce righteousness. So it’s pointless to get upset with Hollywood’s sense (or lack thereof) of morality. Asking them to behave morally is similar to insisting that a lion eat only salad mix. You only prevail in irritating the lion and embarrassing yourself. And possibly getting eaten.
Sinners sin, and they do so quite well. I know I would if it’s all I knew.
2.) Whatever respect I had for the awards society—which, I should add, was next to nothing—has now exhausted itself. Any ounce of class has been cast aside, proving that making political statements is more important than music. Though, I would argue, it stopped being about music a long time ago. As someone once quoted on my couch while watching A White Christmas for the first time, “Imagine that: an era where being famous meant you had to be talented.”
3.) I’m grieved for the children that are now being conditioned to believe that what they saw last night is real life. They’ll end up in my office when their lives falls apart in 10 years. Or sooner. Whatever it is that people who can’t stay married for more than 12 months promote as “marriage” probably shouldn’t be treated with a lot of legitimacy.
Now, if you’ll allow me to elaborate, and maybe get a little crazy before I bring it home:
The Grammy’s tasteless promotion of gay marriage (it was tasteless even for the straight marriages!) only proves that relativism is advancing. Redefine marriage from anything other than what the Bible defines it as, and—well—it can quite literally be anything other than what the Bible defines it as. Same sex people. Multiple people. Animals. People and animals. Have fun making your own rules.
The end game of the relativist approach to life always ends in the relativist being paramount to everything—God included.
• B. Peryer
Simply put, humanity, left to its own devices, wants to be God. Or god.
What’s incredible is that God agrees with them. And he’s one step ahead, as always. Jesus offers the opportunity to become “little Christs” (Greek: Christians), and in a very real sense—actually, in true reality—we receive his divine nature, his God-self. What’s fascinating is that the very thing the unsaved want—to be God—is the very thing Christians have. They just might not be ready for what true God-hood is. Where the world thinks being god is looking for control and appeasement of self, God thinks being God is sacrificial love and endless service in the promotion of others above self.
Interesting in that, apart from Christ, humanity destroys itself and everything around it, all in the name of advancement. Yet, God isn’t afraid of us becoming God-like, he just knows that without himself being in the center of that transformation, it’s irrelevant.
Bring On The Dinner Parties
So what’s the response to Hollywood? The same as it was for Jesus: go to a dinner party.
Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.
• Matthew 9:10 NLT
Matthew was a tax collector. Which means he was rich. And probably a manipulative tyrant. Which also means the other “disreputable sinners” were friends of his who he bought with his money. Read: prostitutes, drunks, politicians, pimps and at least a hit man or two.
And don’t think I’m being so dramatic. Remember, it’s the religious church-attenders’ response that proves just how bad of company Jesus was spending his time with:
But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
• Matthew 9:11 NLT
If you’re looking at your TV thinking, “What awful scum they are,” then you might want to think about snipping the “Pharisee” badge off your blazer.
The Christian response to the Grammys is the same as it’s always been: live such a lifestyle that the unquenchable, insatiable and undeniable love of God makes any other pursuit look trivial in comparison to knowing Jesus.
If all we’re doing is promoting principles—no matter how righteous or true—then we’ll probably always miss impacting people.
Until we’re willing to dine with delinquents we’ll only dabble with divinity.
With the 2014 Olympic Winter Games being held in Sochi, Russia, why wouldn’t an insurance company want in on the action?
Sorry. Bad lead in.
In all seriousness, I am praying for the safety of everyone involved over there. Such a high profile event is bound to attract people that hate freedom and the overcoming human spirit.
Let me try again:
With the 2014 Winter Olympics just days away, Liberty Mutual Insurance has released a new video series, this particular one about the most dangerous winter sport I know of, which is ironic, because I doubt life insurance premiums are cheap for skeleton athletes.
Oops. I did it again.
OK, so maybe there’s no good lead in for this video of Katie Uhleander, other than it’s a good video, and that it just so happens to be funded by and promotes Liberty Mutual. And that even Liberty Mutual can be hip, trendy and cool with the advent of digital videography.
And, I’ll have you know, Liberty Mutual is one of our insurance companies, and continues to be rated #1 by consumers.
(I need a kick back for that).
Go got em, Katie Uhleander.
[Title change courtesy of reader Ernie Zimmerman]
Jesus addressed every American living in 2014 when he said:
“To whom much is given, much is required.”
When even my nation’s poorest citizens still rank among the wealthiest people in the world, we have much required of us as a nation.
Writer Matt Ridley put it this way:
“Today, of Americans officially designated as ‘poor,’ 99 percent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 percent have a television, 88 percent a telephone, 71 percent a car and 70 percent air conditioning. Cornelius Vanderbilt had none of these.”
I want to be a man who’s found faithful with my station at life. I want to use every gift over every second through every opportunity to exploit every possibility of blessing others. I want to be a proven steward of being an American, not because of America, but because of what’s required of me as a Christian living amongst so much “given.”
I want to do all things as if I were doing them for Christ himself. And do all things knowing the expectations placed on me—by virtue of the fact that I live in America—require me to rise to the greatness of my own blessing.
Any lesser living shames providence, provokes God and insults humanity. Death to the entitled self; resurrection to the selfless whole.
May frustrations ebb, complaints cease and comparisons die. I was born to be a child who leads like a king, not a king who acts like a child.
[Image from The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers]
Teaching people is a lot like feeding people. Since I’m familiar with the idea of feeding people in our restaurants, the analogy works well.
Some people hate your food. They don’t like it, and won’t have it again. Others didn’t like it before, but they were forced to see you a second time because a friend dragged them in. They actually hate your food so much, they’re prone to throw some back at you. Like a monkey that throws poop. Or a spitting llama.
Other people enjoy your food, and really appreciate being at your establishment. But you’d never know it by the way they talk. Nor do their faces give anything away. They’re a hard read with no kickback. The only reason you know that they like your food at all is that they keep coming back. But even this could be because of neophobia.
The people you really want to see are those that down-right love your food. They walk in with wide eyes, they eat on the edge of their seat, and always ask you for more. If you’re a buffet, they’ll bankrupt you; if you’re a fine dining locale, they’ll bankrupt themselves. And then die of fat cancer. (Hopefully they tell all their friends about you before they die).
I do a considerable amount of teaching. And imparting, demonstrating, coaching, counseling and mentoring. In fact, as a pastor and a geek, I’m in the business of passing on everything I know and everything I do—it’s a prerequisite for the position. And while any one of us in key places of teaching others could be and should be spending long hours perfecting our craft, there’s something to be said for asking our students to perfect their craft.
To me, the “eaters” that are the most frustrating are actually not the first group I listed above. People that hate my instruction are at least being honest with me. As long as we can get past their personal attacks, we usually end up having a decent and civil dialog in which they express they don’t want to hear anything I have to say. And I don’t want to share anything with them (citing the pearls before swine algorithm), so we’re cool.
And the third group is certainly not the segment that frustrates me the most either. Eager learners? Frustrating? Come on. That’s like being upset that the state fair just have you 100 free VIP tickets to see REO Speedwagon with all your friends.
The people that are the most confusing, most disconcerting and most draining are those that you can’t tell if they’re excited to be learning from you or not. They showed up, which is a good thing. But you’re fairly sure they’re thinking about baseball while you’re talking. (Which is great if you happen to be a baseball coach. Not so much if you’re teaching them about marriage, audio mixing or writing technique).
You’re probably going to learn something today. It may be by accident, it may be because you’re paying to be in a class. But either way, the chances are that one person or another will be involved in the educating process, intentionally or not. So try this on for size:
• At least act like you’re interested. If you’re not interested at first, sometimes the acting bit influences your reality, especially when a bad attitude is getting the best of you.
• Take notes. Copious note takers are the quintessential markers of eager learners. Having a notebook says, “I came prepared, expecting to learn something worth writing down, and because I’ve written it down, I’ll most likely look at it again.” Fewer things tell a teacher that you value their knowledge and experience than taking notes does. (Oh, and be sure to look up occasionally too; nothing makes a teacher curious as to whether or not you’re drawing pictures of ligers than zero eye contact).
• Ask genuine questions about the situation. Not edgy questions, not baited questions and not barbed questions. Ask honest questions that you’re interested to know the answers to. The best teachers are those who love dialog. So resist the urge to sit there stiff and mute, and say something.
• Thank your teacher twice. Once when the lesson—accidental or otherwise—concludes, and a second time a few hours later. I spent a few hours pouring into two different guys yesterday in two different meetings, one on media arts, the other on his life-course. Both guys were thankful for the meetings as they left my office, but by the end of the day, both had sent me a meaningful text message, thanking me for specific aspects of my investment. Guess who’ll be getting follow up meetings with me.
You have learning opportunities all around you. It might be an argument with your wife, where you look eagerly to see if you’re wrong, take a note on something she’s asking you to do, and followthrough with a text later in the day, thanking her for what she revealed in you. It might be a run-in with a boss or a co-worker. Or maybe you’re in school and recognize you’re not on the edge of your seat, and you never even thought about thanking your professor.
It’s your proactive response to these moments that dictates how much you value the wisdom and life experience of others. You just don’t owe it to your teachers, you owe it to yourself. Because it’s you’re own time you’re wasting if you don’t appreciate them.
There’s an old adage:
Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
I’m pretty sure there’s another one. At least there is for me:
Anything worth doing well is worth doing as a team.
And maybe better still:
Anything you want to do well, you’d better do with a team.
Last night, the team pictured above rallied to put on one heck of a show at Indian River High—the largest campus in our county. The event was one of our youth ministry’s LIFTED events, which mixes music, worship, drama, dance and video to support a Gospel message, concluding with an invitation to accept Jesus.
Here are a few reasons I resist doing things without a team:
They’re Smarter Than I Am
When things go wrong and systems fail, I want to be around people that are smarter than me. Or, at the very least, will look at things with different eyes. This allows problems to be treated with new solutions that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
We had a few unforeseen system integration audio issues during set up last night; work arounds came much faster because ideas were shared quickly and freely. We checked one another’s work and talked through some of the more complex signal paths. Because the teams trust each other and are not threatened, even people not on the audio crew were getting involved and doing their best to serve and troubleshoot.
When the pressure gets high, you need people around you who can make you laugh. The only other release for pressure tends to be rather destructive: you allow it to mount until you snap. And people or things usually get hurt.
Keeping things fun, even in highly stressful scenarios (and I’d argue especially in highly stressful scenarios) is absolutely critical. Dedicated, hard working people who have a lighter side, and know when to augment situational tension with a bit of levity are crucial for letting teams reset and keep things in perspective.
Humor is also a great way for you as a leader to let your team know you’re not drowning in frustrations when things go wrong. At one moment last night when things were especially difficult, I just decided to start dancing. No music. No beat. Just my moves (which are in themselves hilariously pitiful). It made people laugh and reminded us all to keep the main thing the main thing—our core message: we’re here to share the Good News of Jesus with teens.
At the end of the day, saying, “I did all that,” gets rather boring. Not because you’re suffering from a lack of ideas, but because you have no one to share it with.
Doing things together means more people are taking pride in what’s happening. And people that do things together end up building stronger bonds because of the process.
This sense of community not only makes the end product more vivid and colorful, but it’s essential in spreading whatever core message you’re attempting to promote.
Doing things as a team says to history, “We were here. We had something so important to say that we needed many voices to say it with.”
May history never forget us and the future never forsake us.
What are some of the favorite teams you ever worked with? What made them special?
Announced yesterday, I’m excited to share that my church, New Life, is launching its first multisite location in Depauville, NY. Our new North Campus location, about 15 miles from our Main Campus in Watertown, NY, will be pastored by none other than my father and mother, Peter and Nina Hopper.
With over 3,000 multisite campuses in the US alone (and thousands more world-wide)—birthed by churches as small as 50 congregants, all the way up to mega-churces—there are numerous reasons to move toward a church model that plants new faces of the same expression throughout any given region.
Here are three of our primary reasons at New Life:
The Gospel Issue
The Gospel of King Jesus still needs to be proclaimed, lived out and administered. Church plants aren’t just for missionaries to start in 3rd World nations, but for missional Christians to start in all nations.
If we claim to be in Christ, we should constantly be on the lookout for new ways to preach this Gospel message.
Establishing a new expression of a mature church culture that a region has already embraced is an amazing way to do this. But rather than expecting people to come to us, the multisite expression loudly declares, “We’re coming to you!”
The Replication Issue
Much like walking into a quality hotel chain in any city of the country (or the world, for that matter), people know that they can expect the same exceptional experience in this new location as they could with the original. Sure, the pool might be on a different floor, and the windows might display a different skyline, but the thing that you count on—the thing that matters—is that the cultural values are the same.
(No, our church doesn’t have a pool, although that would be cool).
This quality of integrity is essential in begetting other Christians through the vehicle of the local church. If we have to reinvent church culture every time we start a new one, we’re ultimately inefficient stewards with the mandate of discipling others. It takes multiple generations to weed out worldly thinking and imbue kingdom thinking; so why start over every time we want to multiply?
Reproducing what works isn’t corporatism, it’s intelligent.
The Space Issue
Moving to a multisite model is an exciting step for any church to take, as it not only endeavors to reach more people with the Gospel by moving to where those people are, but seeks to deal with capacity issues at its primary location.
Right now, our Main Campus is running four services, and we’re past the 80% capacity mark in three of those services—the statistical benchmark of needing to create more space so new people feel like they have a place. Adding a fifth service, however, would put too much strain on what’s already a long day for our hundreds of volunteers.
While building a new sanctuary (and expanding all the support ministries to match, like child care, parking and hospitality) is certainly an option, the price of building is exponentially larger than the costs of creating a second campus in a pre-existing building.
Launching a new venue isn’t just a good Gospel move, it’s a good business move. Since many current congregants will switch their attendance to the new venue, as it’s closer to their home or they feel called to be a part of the ministry there, more seats will open up at our Main Campus for new people to attend.
For New Life in particular, this move to multisite means something special. Not only will two 43-year pastoral veterans of the faith be caring for people in a region that deeply needs comfort, but we’re moving back into the property we vacated in 2008. The “Old Stone Church” was built in 1836 on land gifted to the town by Henry Depau; his mandate was that it always be used as a place for worship. While it’s remained dormant since we outgrew it, the walls will soon echo with praise again.
If you’re a faithful reader of this site, I’d ask that you please keep this launch in prayer. The first service will be held Easter Sunday, April 20th at 10:00 AM. And if you live in the river communities of Jefferson County New York, and need a church family, I can recommend no better pastors than the two people who raised me in Christ.
No matter the size or scope of your church, pray about the future impact you should have in your region. Planting churches—at least for New Life—is part of our Board’s growing 100 Year Vision.
For more material on this, I recommend the following:
• Leadership Network Publications (free)
• The Multi-Site Church Revolution: Being One Church in Many Locations, Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird, Zondervan, 2006
• A Multi-site Church Roadtrip: Exploring the New Normal, Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird, Zondervan, 2009
What strategies is your church embracing to reach more people with the Gospel and make disciples of Jesus? I’d love to hear.