There is no doubt that we are now seeing a movement of multi-site churches: one out of four megachurches are multi-site, seven of the ten fastest growing churches are multi-site, nine of the ten largest churches are multi-site, and 33% of all churches are currently considering the multi-site option. While the multi-site option is very important (and I’m a huge fan and advocate!), it is only a slice of what is happening in the church today. The better term to represent what is happening is the “REPRODUCING CHURCH.” We are seeing a renewed desire and focus on reproducing leaders, reproducing small organic churches, reproducing and planting new churches and efforts toward reproducing whole networks.
For the last eight years here at Community Christian Church, we have been aggressively pursuing this idea of becoming a reproducing church! And it has been the most amazing journey. Here are some of the positive shifts that we have experienced over those eight years:
POSITIVE SHIFT #1: Church Growth to Missional Movement
When you make the transition to being a reproducing church, one of the first things you begin to realize is that it is not about church growth at a single site! It’s about accomplishing the Jesus mission: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, all of Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And to accomplish this mission, we must reproduce over and over and over again! You are a part of a missional movement!
POSITIVE SHIFT #2: Ministry Manager to Spiritual Entrepreneur
In a reproducing church, the job of the staff goes beyond managing ministries to challenge each staff person to think of themselves as a spiritual entrepreneur. John Ciesniewski, who was the campus pastor at our first and largest site in Naperville (2000+ people every weekend), comes to me and says, “Let me start the new site in Shorewood!” So we send him out with 100 people to start a new location, and two years later there are 500+ people attending that location! A ministry manager values programming and recruiting, while the spiritual entrepreneur values new things more than the established, the lost more than the found, and going more than staying.
POSITIVE SHIFT #3: Owning to Leasing, Renting or Borrowing
Once you leave behind the idea of church growth at a single site and your staff begins to see themselves as spiritual entrepreneurs, you begin to re-think facilities. You realize that you just can’t build buildings big enough or fast enough to keep up with what God wants to do! At Community Christian/NewThing, we have sites and new churches meeting in public schools, Christian schools, colleges, community centers and club houses, in addition to buildings that we own.
POSITIVE SHIFT #4: Reactive to Proactive
The church growth paradigm has your staff managing ministries and reacting to growth. If there are no more spaces in the parking lot, you react and expand the parking lot! If there are no more classrooms for Sunday school space, you react and add an addition to the facility! If the auditorium is 80% full, you react and add more seating! But the reproducing church is not reactive; it is proactive…it is all about leader readiness! When you have the right small group leader, you send that person out to start a new small group. When you have the right campus pastor, you send that person out with his/her team to start a new site. When you have the right church planter, you send out that church planter and team to start a brand new church. It’s not about parking spaces, available classrooms or the 80% rule; it’s about leader readiness.
The Apostle Paul explains to young Timothy how to accomplish the Jesus mission: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (II Timothy 2:2) Paul is describing four generations of reproduction: Paul to Timothy to “reliable men” to “others.” That is the reproducing church!