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January 17, 2017

DNA Alignment and Other Unity Issues for Multisite Churches

By Chris Kouba

Like many of you I spent a recent Tuesday night glued to the television set watching the presidential election coverage, anxious to learn how each state would fill in the map; red or blue? I was fascinated by the ease at which commentators could zoom in on a particular state and see which counties had voted republican and which had voted democrat.  Take a state like Texas, colored red on the map.  The news anchor would highlight the red state and then start to zoom in and the closer they zoomed the detail emerged. Soon county lines became visible and you saw that Texas wasn’t entirely red.  Under the big umbrella of red there were little pockets of blue counties throughout the state, or even gray counties that were too close to call red or blue.

Differences between multisite campuses

It wasn’t long until those different colored counties began to remind me of a multisite church. Some campuses so different from the their home church that they are basically another color, and some that are close, but not close enough to be colored the same.  In the end, those gray and blue counties on the election map fall in line to represent the state of Texas on the national scene, similar to the way multisite campuses need ultimately to fall in line and represent their home church within the kingdom of God.

Falling in line, being united, is of utmost importance within the body of Christ and specifically within the church.  And, as with most things, remaining unified starts at the top.  I am the Lead Pastor of the North Campus at Prestonwood Baptist Church.  I am fully aware that if I don’t promote unity with our original campus, the unity will leak out over time and ultimately be destroyed.  This is sometimes easier said than done.

I have served as a campus pastor in two different locations at my church.  The first location was a new campus start and about 75% of the people who started the campus came and attended the original location. Our issue at that campus was not being unified, our issue there was being contextualized. 

One the flip side, when I went to another campus, about 75% of the people that attended there had never been to our original location. The problem at this campus was not that we weren’t contextualized, the problem was we weren’t unified. 

The messiness of multisite

The whole idea and concept of “one church in multiple locations” sounds really good but can get painfully messy.  Still, our scriptural admonition is this: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10, ESV)

Here are my top three (3) bedrocks to achieve unity within a multi-site model:

1. DNA Alignment 

Successfully passing along the original DNA will be greatly effective in protecting unity in a multisite model.  And let me add, protecting the DNA of your original location is not a threat to contextualization and should not be viewed as such.  My wife and I have four kids: two girls and two boys.  As you can imagine, they all have their own likes and dislikes, interests and talents.  But, we have been intentional to view ourselves as a whole, adopting the moniker “Team Kouba”.  Our kids may all be different, but the “Team Kouba” DNA runs through us all, and we remain unified by remembering who we are at our core.  The same is true in the multisite model.  Each campus may be a little different, and that’s okay as long enough of the DNA anchors them to the original location and to one another.

2. Common Teaching

Teaching/sermon alignment allows the campuses to stay connected and provides members the same spiritual teaching regardless of what campus they attend.  I am part of a hybrid model where some of the messages are simulcast and others are live. So when there is live preaching at all campuses, we will all preach the same text and title.  We will also preach the same series. This allows us to be leading the church spiritually from the pulpit through the same thing but also gives opportunity for specific local application at the campus level. 

3. Global Events

Well timed and strategic global events can be great times of building unity for a church with multiple locations. Obviously, this should be approached carefully so that multisite members and staff don’t feel like they are always having to go to the original location, but special times of gathering can serve to bring the campuses together and reinforce the idea of one church in multiple locations.  At the church in which I serve we hold our men’s conference and women’s conference together each year.  It’s a unique time of equipping and training our global members together.

Note: Make sure to check out and enroll in our new course at NewChurches.com: Essential Campus Pastoring!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Kouba

Chris Kouba is the Lead Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church North Campus and has been a part of all campuses of Prestonwood, one of the largest churches in the country. He is a graduate of Baylor University, received his Master’s from Dallas Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He serves as an adjunct faculty member of Southern Seminary teaching leadership to doctoral students. He is passionate about the local church and seeing it reach his full potential of influence. He is married to Hillary and has four children, Katelyn, Mackenzie, Hudson, and Griffin.

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