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December 31, 2015

Multisite in Rural Locations

By Daniel Im

Every month, Plus Members get video enhanced training from Ministry Grid on topics like leadership, ministry systems, residencies, multiplication, church planting, and multisite. This month, Geoff Surratt, Pastor of Church Planting at Southeast Christian Church in Denver, CO, discusses the current trends in multisite.

*Plus Members can watch this entire Video Training by logging in and clicking here.

Multisite in the Boondocks

What comes to your mind when you think of the word, boondocks (besides the hit country song by Little Big Town)? I know, some of you are impressed that a Canadian actually knew that song—but call it contextualization given that I live in the capital of country music. Anyway, when you think of boondocks you may think about the time Siri told you to go to the nearest route because she didn’t know where you were. Maybe you think about your childhood and growing up in a booming metropolis of 500 where there was one traffic light. Or, for you hunters, you may think about the place you have to go to score some big game.

Whatever comes to your mind when you think of the word, boondocks, I bet multisite is far from the top. Yet, Geoff Surratt, Pastor of Church Planting at Southeast Christian Church in Denver, suggests that planting campuses in rural settings is becoming a major trend in the multisite movement.

The reality is that most church planting networks and planters are targeting major metropolitan areas. Therefore, for the most part, small towns in North America don’t experience the new life of new churches. As a result, the ecclesial movement of small towns in North America sits idling with many of the older established churches experiencing plateau or decline.

According to Geoff, multisite can be and is becoming an answer for the injection of ecclesial new life into rural America. However, starting a campus in the boondocks isn’t like starting one in the suburbs or cities. In many ways, it’s more difficult—especially relationally, financially, and contextually.

Given the difficulty and challenges of starting a campus in the boondocks, Geoff provides at least three key thoughts to keep in mind when contemplating rural multisite.

1. Staff Local

With a great many of people moving to urban areas, the rural areas don’t experience much growth. Therefore, many of these areas may be leery of outsiders coming in to do anything—much less start a new fangled church campus.

In order to reach such an area, Geoff suggests that the campus be led by a local. In other words, the staff should either be from, or at the very least, familiar with the area. Such a person will know the people, as well as their language, culture, traditions, and quirks. By staffing locally, the campus has immediate connection and capital with the area.

2. Scale the Model

The type of campus one starts in a suburb with a population of 40,000 people will be much different from the campus that is launched in a town of 500 or 1,000. The goal for rural multisite will be to establish goals and enlist practices that are congruent with the area. Thus, the campus will need to do its homework in order to understand what kind of teaching, music, programs, ministries, etc. will resonate with the people of the area.

Launching a campus within a rural area magnifies whether or not the church properly contextualizes the area. Why? Because the people pool is much smaller than it is in the suburbs or cities. Thus, the under or over contextualization of rural America can be the difference between excelling in the context or existing in the context.

3. Small is the New Big

The last piece of advice Geoff gives for multisite in the boondocks is for the campus (and the main campus) to realize small is the new big. In other words, celebrate the small! Once again, if the campus is launched in a town of 500 or 1,000, everyone involved needs to face the reality that the campus isn’t going to grow to thousands. Thus, everyone needs to be prepared and excited about the two that came to Christ this past year, the one new small group that was created, and the $1000 offering that was collected for international missions.

Truthfully, every church and every campus needs to learn this principle about celebrating the small. However, it’s vital in rural America that the campus (and main campus) celebrate the small incremental wins.

In closing, multisite in rural areas is a growing trend and one that will become more popular as time progresses. But as it gains popularity, churches must keep in mind that reaching rural America, or the boondocks, is different from reaching the burbs and cities. In fact, it’s reaching people who sing, “I feel no shame, I’m proud of where I came from, I was born and raised in the boondocks….”

There were a couple more trends that Geoff discussed, so I encourage you to check out the full video here. This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.

Tweetables:

  • Multisite in rural areas is a growing trend and one that will become more popular as time progresses
  • Multisite can be and is becoming an answer for the injection of ecclesial new life into rural America
  • Starting a campus in the boondocks isn’t like starting one in the suburbs or cities
  • Three key thoughts to keep in mind when contemplating rural multisite
  • Launching a campus within a rural area magnifies whether or not the church properly contextualizes the area
  • In rural multisite, small is the new big

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Founder of NewChurches.com and the Director of Church Multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.

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