Unity comes around clarity of vision as members agree on their motivation and method, stated Bryan Rose of Auxano, a newly acquired division of LifeWay. “Then success will be measured, not so much by numbers,” but “how are people being made into disciples.”
Fashioning ministry at new sites has to get beyond mere preferences, Rose added. “You have to get into the simple vision of what we’re here to do,” he added, encouraging churches to ask, “Why are we called to do this?”
A downtown site may look very different from a suburban site meeting in a theater, “but there has to be that shared DNA” that is carried more than through the unity of “shared vision and articulation.”
Rose consults with churches onsite from six to 12 months as they consider a move to multi-site or other new models of ministry. “We believe in more than just transferring statistics and best practices or coaching in the principles of launching a campus,” he added.
Auxano is in the early stages of piloting a lab of sorts in the Dallas area for churches interested in developing a multi-site strategy around vision clarity—the element Rose considers most crucial to long-term church health and intra-campus alignment.
When sharing success stories, multi-site churches shift into storytelling mode, he said, with testimonies of new disciples told from one campus to another, building unity around fulfillment of a clearly stated vision. Churches like Fellowship of the Parks in Keller and the Met in Houston are among those that feature videotaped testimonies of changes in the lives of their members.
Participation by members of different campuses in mission trips and other service opportunities help unify the congregation across various campuses.
Congregational business meetings can be a challenge, but Beaumont’s Calvary Baptist Executive Pastor Gary Rothenberger Jr. said those who are concerned about making decisions for the church’s future will make an effort to show up at the main campus. “We’ll answer questions at the north campus, but we will all gather to have the vote.”
Prior to a vote at the various campuses on a transition to elder governance, the Met facilitated a joint Q&A session one week in advance.
Fellowship Church in Grapevine relayed video of the 90 baptisms from distant campuses during a challenge for Christ-followers to observe the ordinance that day. Young’s appeal resulted in 515 people stepping forward for a spontaneous baptismal service.
“I told the crowd that when someone balks at this first step of obedience in the Christian life, I have to wonder if they are really a Christian,” Young said.
“We were not sure if the spontaneous baptism approach would work via video, but it did,” former campus pastor Mark Morgan said at the time. “We were excited to see a total of 90 people baptized at our satellite locations. We had to get creative since our satellites meet in high schools and renovated warehouse space where there are no baptisteries. We used an inflatable kid’s pool for one location.”
Bannockburn Baptist’s South Austin campus transported its “singing Christmas tree” to the Dripping Springs campus, providing an outreach tool that attracted more than 220 worshippers.
“One church meeting in multiple sites sounds good, but multiple sites can lose their connectedness if ‘out of sight, out of mind’ starts to become the norm,” said BBC’s multi-site pastor, Jeff Humphreys, who praised the commitment of 100 members from the main campus.