The Next Big Thing

What would happen if Rick Warren started a church in your town?

Would it suck the life out of other churches, much like Walmart sucks the life out of mom and pop stores when it builds a local supercenter?

Get ready, because this just might be The Next Big Thing: multisite video churches. Back in September 05 I wrote about Seacoast Church and how they're taking over the South. When Seacoast plants a church, they do it right – supplying the new plant with graphics, signage and ministries to make it appear like it's an established church of five years, not to mention a tried and true methodology that works.

While some churches are sitting around, twiddling thumbs, debating whether they should or should not be relevant, reach out, have contemporary music or [fill in the blank], churches like Seacoast have a successful strategy of meeting needs and people are flocking – they had 11,000 people at Easter between 10 campuses!

What's interesting, and how a Seacoast church differs from a typical church plant, is how the churches are structured. The plant considers itself part of one congregation and watches a sermon video from senior pastor Greg Surratt. They call it "one church, many locations."

The video thing might seem weird at first, but after 30 seconds of watching you're engaged. I had visited a local megachurch recently that televises on screen the pastor as he preaches. I found myself watching the video instead of the live guy, simply because I sat so far back I could see the video image better!

Each plant has live worship and a campus pastor who doesn't have to preach [although he may from time to time] but is more like a shepherd.

The video venue movement appears to be a God-thing – it's happening all over the country… LifeChurch.tv, Northpoint and Willow Creek to name a few. Saddleback started their first video church at Easter with 1800 attending the first Sunday! Not simply a growth strategy, the multisite church movement is about fulfilling the Great Commission.

I'm so impressed with Seacoast I've decided to join them, and I'm sure you'll enjoy reading about my new adventures here and at WorshipIdeas.com. I'll now be helping out with the music of Seacoast Greenville.

What I find interesting is the concept of "the genius of the and," a term coined by Jim Collins in his book "Built to Last." With a multisite church you have the resources of a megachurch with the feel of a smaller church (grow larger AND grow smaller), a brand new AND a trusted brand, a staff with generalists AND specialists.

In his article "The Multi Site Church," Greg Ferguson says "new churches usually begin with one church planter, a generalist who has to oversee everything. If there is a team, it might include those over broad areas: a worship leader or perhaps a children's pastor.

"The multi-site church, however, allows you to start a new location with the existing staff in place. Instead of hiring more generalists, you add specialists such as technical arts, administrator, or director of creative arts for children. The big win is that now all locations have the benefit of the generalists, and the added specialists."

Most impressive are the results – these churches have a high percentage of converts. 1/3 of the congregation at Seacoast Greenville are new believers.

Next week: what the multisite movement means to you – how to adapt and how to participate.

For more info, check out the new book The Multi-Site Church Revolution by Seacoast's Geoff Surratt at Amazon.com.

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