I’ve been thinking a lot about growth and expansion lately.
I’ve been asking,
"What is next for our church and the church in America?"
I’ve been reading the research, listening to podcasts, interviewing churches and asking lots of questions to just about anyone who will listen.
People are getting annoyed.
I can tell.
A driving question in my thinking has been: What is everyone else doing and what does that tell us about how our church strategy should shift?
If church X is seeing incredible growth...maybe we should all be doing what church X is doing.
I’m realizing that perhaps I’m asking the wrong question and maybe you are too.
I’ve been intrigued by a church in the Northeast that is growing quickly through rapid campus expansion.
But, their campuses aren’t mega-church size.
Most of them are in the neighborhood of 200-400 people.
So, I’ve been theorizing.
Maybe culture is moving in the direction of small.
Local is everywhere right now.
Local restaurants, local grocery stores, local everything.
It’s a phenomenon that I think of as Budweiser to local craft beer.
Oh, maybe beer doesn’t belong in a church blog.
Ok. Umm, think Starbucks to [insert your town’s local coffee shop].
For me, it would be a local coffee shop called Madcap...so good!
My point is that it feels like our culture is moving toward wanting local everything.
Less Wal-Mart and more locally sourced grocery stores.
Maybe you are sensing the same thing.
So, I started thinking, maybe the next expression of my church needs to be very small and local.
Maybe that is what younger people want in a church.
So, when I heard about this church in the Northeast, I was intrigued.
I called them.
And, their Director of Operations was gracious enough to give me an hour of his time.
I learned that they are local and small for several specific reasons:
- Their region is sparsely populated.
- Their region is all small towns separated by forests. There are very clear dividing lines and a high degree of town loyalty.
- Their financial reality requires small campuses with a focus on strong central resourcing. Based on my math (which is typically suspect) their FTE ratio is 175 to 1!
In other words, they have developed a strategy that fits who they are as an organization and where they exist.
They launch centrally resourced campuses of 200-400 in every small town that they can.
So, here’s my mistake and the mistake that SO MANY of our churches make.
I was too quick to assume that their success was because they were launching small campuses.
Small campuses are what the next generation wants!
Small campuses are the future of the church in America! Everyone!
Launch small campuses because people want local craft beer, not Budweiser.
People want local Madcap Coffee not Starbucks!
The reason that this church is successful is because they have taken the time to discern what ministry strategy God has called them to pursue in their particular context.
And, just as importantly, what ministry strategies God has NOT called them to pursue in their particular context.
Here’s my challenge:
Your church needs to be who God has called you to be.
There is only one community of Jesus followers with your resources, gifts, passions and people where you are.
Your community needs you to be the specific community of Jesus followers that God has called you to be.
Now, there are obviously great and important lessons to be learned from other churches and ministries but let’s be wise about uncritically adopting the models, strategies and focuses of other successful churches.
Better and more fundamental questions center around your own context and calling.
What do the people of your community need? What are the resources that God has provided for you?
What are the passions and gifts that God has placed within you and other key leaders in your church?
These are great places to start and build upon.
Thanks for reading. As always, feel to share ideas and ask questions in the comments below. And, please let us know what the best local coffee shop is in your area...just in case we visit.