974 words … about a four minute quick read … enjoy!
In the early days of multisite, my friend Dave Browning introduced me to the concept of creating a church expression that was intentionally larger than a house church but smaller than a typical multisite campus. Dave called it a Cafe. Several churches including Seacoast experimented with the Cafe idea a few times, but always with the intention that it would eventually grow into a full-sized campus. They had no idea that what they were really doing was launching micro-churches or micro-sites. Many of the challenges faced trying to grow a Cafe into a Campus could have been avoided with a better understanding of the power of micro.
In recent days there seems to be both the acceleration of two micro models, and in some cases the merging of the two; Micro-Church and Micro-Site. Though often referred to as if they were one in the same, there are actually some distinctives that are worth noting.
What has come to be known as the Micro-Church was largely an adaptation of the modern house church movement that started in the 1960s. One of the most visible models today is Underground, a movement that was birthed in 2004 under the leadership of Brian Sanders. The model is driven by what Sanders identifies as the “irreducible minimum” for a biblical church; worship, community and mission. Sanders states, “By removing size as a determining factor of our definition of church, by not thinking so much in terms of numbers and growth, we opened up the possibility for more churches - and more contextualized churches - to form.” (Micro-Church Revolution, Rick Vincent, p.8, 2019, Just the Word Publishing)
Another micro model that has come on the scene is the Micro-Site. As the multisite movement that Geoff Surratt, Warren Bird and I first wrote about in Multisite Church Revolution (2006) and Multisite Church Roadtrip (2009) has matured and entered a new season of innovation, one of the emerging models has been the development of micro-sites. In our earliest work, we referred to a similar idea as low-risk, niche approaches. Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas had a “site” in many of the fire stations throughout the city. Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church in Gulf Breeze, Florida offered “worship at the water” in a beach restaurant during the summer. In recent years, the micro-site approaches have begun to multiply.
John Upchurch on gomicrosite.org defines microsite as follows: “A microsite is a community of connected and invested believers in an area where there is no physical campus for the sponsoring church. The community shares in the life of the church on Sundays and beyond through live-streams, discipleship materials, leadership training, and small groups. But they usually meet in homes or community centers, rather than a dedicated building, and they usually stream the service on a TV.”
So where is it happening today? Some great approaches after the ad below
The Power of Peer Learning
Dave and I were profoundly impacted by Bob Buford, the founder of Leadership Network, where we each served over 20 years. Bob contributed many things to the kingdom, but perhaps his greatest gift was the introduction of the peer learning model. There is significant power in the gathering of true peers that leads to leader and organizational health and accelerated results.
I will be launching the following two new peer learning opportunities in the coming weeks and months.
LeadWell Senior Pastor Coaching Group
Join with a group of large church senior pastors of growing churches for a one year experience that includes a mixture of in person gatherings, video resource calls, personal and professional coaching and access to some of the leading senior pastors as mentors.
Executive Pastor Weekly Forum
Join other large church executive pastors for a weekly zoom forum where we talk about the questions that are on your mind. This forum is co-hosted with Generis consultant, Jon Wright with frequent contributions from Dave as well.
Both experiences are invitation only. Apply for an invitation to these space limited opportunities by sending an email to email@example.com.
Much like the early multisite solutions that were a reaction to challenges related to growth morphed to proactive strategies to extend reach and penetration, the challenges of the COVID-19 shutdown of church facilities appears to be accelerating micro model consideration and evolving applications. The emerging approaches are being designed to not only serve the immediate needs of churches to find ways for their congregations to gather safely, but as a true adaptive pivot addressing the realities of the digital world and the desire of younger generations to connect on new terms.
In multisite churches, micro-sites have come to be seen as a means to strategically expand to scale. Manna Church’s “multiply strategy” includes city sites, multisites, and micro-sites defined as follows:
City Site: a Manna Church location with 100-1,999 people in attendance for weekend experience(s)
Multisite: an extension of a City Site
Micro-Site: a gathering of people who are committed to glorifying God by helping to equip people to change their world.
Manna’s original campus is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina the home of Fort Bragg Army Base, one of the largest military bases in the world. Their effectiveness in reaching the men and women that serve has been the impetus for their “military highway” strategy. This strategy drives the plan to plant sites, in many cases, micro-sites, near every US military base in the world.
I recently spoke with Ron Johnson from Restoration Church in Denver. Over the last 7 months they have begun to launch “simple churches.” A simple church is two or more people who meet regularly to follow Jesus, become like Jesus and make disciples for Jesus. Since launch, they have launched simple churches that are reaching over 500 people and have welcomed more than 50 new Jesus followers. What is their “process”? Well, it’s simple and you can read about the 7 questions that drive it here.
Celebration Church in Jacksonville, FL has committed itself to “uberizing” their multisite model. Campuses “bubble up” from homes that gather in neighborhoods. Primary leadership focus? Support the ministries that are happening in homes. Check out the kinds of resources they are providing here.
12Stone Church in the greater Atlanta area recently announced that they offer “one experience/two expressions.” They are calling this 12Stone|Home. (Senior Pastor, Kevin Myers and 12Stone|Home pastor David Grant announced their plans recently and you can hear their discussion of the details here.) The model is based on their belief that everything you can do in a church building you can do at a home. It’s new and not all the kinks are worked out. And also, like Restoration and Celebration, Kevin and David believe that this may not only be an interim strategy, but perhaps a means of “resetting church” in the new digital reality. You can experience a 12Stone|Home experience here.
What are you doing to get small and go far?
Email me your experiments and stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule a free call to talk about your current situation or predicament by sending an email to email@example.com.