When it comes to doing small groups in churches, there are two paradigms that exist: Churches OF Small Groups and Churches WITH Small Groups. Churches WITH small groups see small groups as another ministry that their church does. Churches OF small groups view them as core essential of who they are. It plays out in all phases of that church (everything from children, student ministry and beyond). Cedar Creek is a church OF small groups. That’s been a reality that was in our DNA from day one. In fact, it would be easier to count the messages that don’t have any mention of being plugged into a small group vs the ones that do. The pastor of a church of small groups doesn’t see it as a burden or non essential but rather champions the importance of getting plugged into one.
Now, take that same idea of “With” vs “Of” and apply that to multi sites. Whether a video venue, web campus or a campus that has in-person teaching, it seems that churches are falling into one of those two camps: Churches WITH multi-sites and Churches OF multi-sites. We are now about 6 months into our first multi-site campus with our second multi site campus about to launch sometime this summer. The staff here at CCC have been living it for over a year as it took much time and effort to prepare. It is the newest phase (some say “fad” but I don’t think that is accurate…to most anyway) in church growth. It allows churches really of any size to consider expansion and growth without having to necessarily depend on a new building.
I would say that Cedar Creek right now is somewhere in between a church WITH and a church OF multi-sites. I think we’re probably leaning more toward the OF side. I don’t think we’re fully there yet, however. Consistent vision, communication and leadership is critical to change any culture within a church. I think while most of our staff are getting there to where we are thinking “multi-site”, I would say that it takes a little bit longer for the church as a whole to think in that mindset. I think that is the natural progression where you have to constantly and consistently communicate vision over and over again. Here are some of my observations of the multi-site movement, both here at CCC and abroad.
- Multi-Site is leadership critical. If you don’t have the right leader in place as a campus pastor and in key leadership areas, I believe you have already begun at a HUGE disadvantage.
- Multi-site does change everything. You no longer just create a video piece for example. You first have to filter a lot of elements through “Will this work on every campus?”
- I think a church must wrestle with the question of why would they do multi-site? Is it because it sounds like a really good idea or is it because we believe that is where God is leading us? Have we exhausted all of the worship possibilities on this campus yet?
- I don’t know if “freeing up seats” should be the main reason for doing multi-site. From what I’ve observed, I’m not sure how many seats you will really free up.
- Multi-site is A LOT of work. Let me say that again. Multi-site is A LOT of work. It will stretch your staff and your volunteers.
- Constantly communicating vision is critical….over and over. Just when you think people are getting tired of hearing about it, that’ probably the point where it is just starting to connect with them. From the sermon series, to web and printed pieces, “one church in multiple locations” has to become a part of the everyday lingo of the staff and the church alike.
Here’s a book I would recommend as a primer for multi-site strategy: The Multi-Site Church Revolution