Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Multi-Site Churches - Crossing Cultural Bridges

Here's part two of the multi-site church blog tour Q&A.

Question: Can a multi-site church effectively cross cultural bridges, particularly if it’s using the video model? You have given some examples of international campuses, but it seems that most of the campuses of a particular church are replicating DNA and teaching, which will work best when it’s being imported into a similar context. A couple of the examples in the book touch on this challenge. While the Bible is the same for everyone, the applications may be quite different for white collar vs. blue collar, suburb vs. inner city, urban vs. rural.

Response: We agree that the culture needs to match for it to work well. But even in many international situations the culture does indeed match.

I (Warren) recently heard about a church in Paraguay planting a daughter church in Pittsburgh, PA. Sound odd? It turns out that the wives of the two pastors are sisters. Also the Pittsburgh couple had found a bunch of immigrants from Paraguay, and so they loved being part of a church that had connections and customs from the "old country."

Likewise with international multi-sites, there's usually a familiarity or relational connection between the two groups. In a Spanish-language church in Florida named King Jesus, services are broadcast by television across Central and South America, including places where folks have relatives who attend the Florida church. It's predictable that in those places, video campuses work well, led by the equivalent of a campus pastor but watching Pastor Maldonado as teaching pastor via video.

Because of these factors most churches begin their multi-site journey with a centrally-controlled structure and gradually morph to a more campus based model. Both models, however, require extraordinary attention to effective communication. The biggest challenge for all multi-site structures is keeping everyone on the same page, regardless of who is in charge.

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