CHURCH PLANTING & Plant doesn’t have a building, only a cellphone app, linking members to church’s many parts: house groups, Taco Truck, roadside Ash Wednesday service, etc.

Commentary by Prof. B.: Having planted a church and coached perhaps hundreds of others, I believe that the current planting models are often overly dependent upon expensive strategies. Therefore I welcome this case study of a church with many ministries but no building. Instead they link the community to its many activities via a cell phone app. I coach a nearby church to this one and the pastor there told me that she thought this new model of church planting would be expanded through out her diocese (she is a bishop). Here is the article written by an editorial board at Duke University on this potentially replicable church planting model.

Church has no walls but many doors, accessible to seekers and skeptics

by Leadership & Faith Editorial Board, Duke University, 1/31/18.

…Taco Church was part of the newly launched St. Isidore Episcopal, a “church without walls” focused on small group discipleship and community service. The church didn’t have a building, and it didn’t want one, Steele said. Instead, it had a cellphone app, linking members to the church’s many parts.

As Steele explained, St. Isidore was one church embodied in many different ways. It wasn’t just Taco Church. It would eventually become three house churches, a pub theology group, a free laundry ministry, a food truck and more. It was all quite unorthodox, except the liturgy and theology, which were decidedly Episcopalian.

The Rev. Sean Steele leads Ash Wednesday services for commuters in a Houston suburb.

… This Easter, a little over a year after his first Taco Church, Mraz and his 6-year-old son were baptized in a service he helped organize as a member of the St. Isidore leadership team.

Finding new possibilities

As many mainline Protestant churches shrink and shutter across the United States, St. Isidore is finding new possibilities by marrying a denomination’s traditions with a decentralized structure drawn from the emergent-church playbook. It’s a mission church and “research and development” effort launched by Trinity Episcopal Church, a 1,500-member parish in The Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston.

“I am not trying to do something old in a new way; I am trying to do something brand-new in the old way,” said Steele, the entrepreneurial 38-year-old priest behind the experiment. “Many [church planters] feel they need to jettison the tradition. I actually think we need to be more church, not less.”

Steele holds tightly to Episcopal liturgy even as he brings it into novel settings such as breweries and laundromats. St. Isidore is aimed not just at unorthodox places, he said, but also at unorthodox people, like the formerly Daoist chicken farmer who now runs the pub theology group.

“I’m trying to think about the people who aren’t going to a church on a Sunday morning,” Steele said. “I’m not interested in getting Christians that are already Christian.”

St. Isidore (link is external) is a church with many entry points, many thresholds that even seekers and skeptics can easily cross, Steele said. St. Isidore is the patron saint of the internet (link is external) — part of the glue that holds Steele’s church together — and, as Steele likes to joke, the saint’s name conveys what the church is about: “It … is a door.”

What are the thresholds to your church? How can they be made easier to cross?

The Rev. Gerry Sevick, the rector at Trinity (link is external), hired Steele straight out of seminary in 2012 with the understanding that he would eventually plant a new church or start a missional community.

“There’s a population out there hungry for spirituality and hungry for a community of faith,” Sevick said. “While they’re skeptical about a traditional church, they are willing to explore an alternative way of being church…”

A St. Isidore member invites drivers to the roadside Ash Wednesday service. 

Church for the unchurched

…Starting in January 2015, Sevick gave Steele 10 hours a week to focus on research, dreaming, planning and working with a church-planting coach — a luxury possible perhaps only at a large multi-staff parish.

That March, a lay staff member mentioned half-jokingly that she wanted to do outreach with a free food truck. Steele jumped at the idea and started the fundraising; the food truck manufacturer became a major contributor.

The first ministry group, Pub Theology, began as an experiment in August 2015. Like similar gatherings nationwide, it attracted an eclectic mix of believers and nonbelievers across several generations. Some of them also joined other St. Isidore activities as they launched, while some just came out for the Tuesday night beer-and-discussion gatherings.

Taco Church began around the same time after Steele noticed that the group of guys he encountered at his neighborhood gym every day often shared surprisingly intimate conversations. He saw a community of trust and mutual interest that felt sort of like church.

Steele asked whether they would be interested in getting up an hour early on a Wednesday to meet across the street at Taco Bell.

“We’ll just start gathering together and praying together, and we’ll see how it unfolds,” he told them.

Four guys showed up the first time. Steele wanted to help the men recognize that their community already was blessed and that they could set it apart as sacred. Now about 10 men gather each Wednesday, including a lawyer, an event promoter and a dishwasher who was homeless for two years before he found housing with Steele’s help.

After working through a series of check-in questions, the group studies a parable. They share wisdom across generations, poke fun at each other and break bread — specifically, breakfast tacos and some Chick-fil-A sandwiches sneaked in for variety.

A few months in, one of the members asked the others where they attended church…

House churches, empowering laity

In the fall of 2015, Steele interviewed more than a dozen families from Trinity and elsewhere to find the group that would form the first house church. They began meeting in October to talk about core values and how to lead house churches. From the beginning, he wanted to empower lay leaders, whom he said churches often render impotent.

After St. Isidore was officially commissioned in January 2016, the first house church, aimed at families with young children, began meeting at the Steeles’ home. A second house church launched the following month. For several months, people would visit but not stick around. Steele, though, was patient.

Read more at …

LEAD 558 multiplication

MULTISITE & How Trinity Anglican Mission in Atlanta Describes It Differently: “parish”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Kris McDaniel is the pastor of an Atlanta megachurch affiliated with Anglican Church of North America says that “parish” is a better way to describe the venues of a multisite church.  Parish historically indicates local shepherding and spiritual mentoring.  I agree, for I have always felt the term multi-“site” emphasizes the location/facility in lieu of neighborhood pastoring.

Personal conversation with students at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University DMin, Atlanta, GA on 6/20/16.

DMin ATL Kris McDaniel 2.jpg

Read more about Trinity Anglican Mission at …

MULTIPLICATION & Thoughts from #TheWesleyanChurch “Ignite” Pre-conference #Exponential

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 4/25/16.

In partnership with the Exponential East conference, The Wesleyan Church holds an “Ignite” pre-conference sponsored by their Department of Church Multiplication and Discipleship.

Matt LeRoy (teaching pastor at Love Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill):

“Adding daily to their number daily (Acts 2:48) was not their vision. They wanted to stay small. The great persecution of Acts 8 scattered them” and made them a missionary people.

“The call (come follow me), the cost (lay down your life, take up your cross) and commission (go and make disciples).”

MULTISITE & 6 Lessons Learned from #MultiSite Tour of Chicago

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D. 11/8/15.

This is part of my continuing study of multiplication strategies. Here I add another list of characteristics in my study of multisite churches in Chicago.

Update on #MultiSite Tour of Chicago: still suffer from hospitality issues, but venues are more intimate & less polished (=more organic)

#MultiSite Tour of Chicago: good motto – “one church, six neighborhoods.”

#MultiSite Tour of Chicago: new sites are sponsored/launched by nearby site: creates localized coaching.

#MultiSite Tour of Chicago: (millennial creativity) “Text Message to __#___ to receive newcomer info.”

#MultiSite Tour of Chicago: Six (6) commonalities =

  1. pared down stage setting,
  2. no stage/house lighting effects = organic, probably due to rental space
  3. 7-10 minutes greeting between worship & Word. More fellowship time than boomers.
  4. sites multiethnic, not multicultural but neighborhood-based e.g. Rogers Park =Young Professionals
  5. smaller auditoriums (<250) create fellowship via #DunbarNumber
  6. commonalities= Multisite strategy popular w/ church denominations w/ weak denominational network (e.g. So. Bap.)

MULTISITE & Campus Pastor as Key to Multisite Success #LeadershipNetwork #WarrenBird

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: A multi-campus or multi-site approach creates an “economy of scale” that can better fund and support church multiplication. I call this the “Alliance Model of Church Multiplication,” which especially lends itself to growing multi-ethnic and multi-cultural churches. However more important than the lead pastor in this strategy, is the campus pastor who will indigenize the church’s ministry to the local context. See this helpful report with sample job descriptions by my friend Warren Bird. It examines what makes a good campus pastor and why selecting them is even more important than selecting locations for church multiplication strategies.


by Warren Bird, Leadership Network, 10/8/15.

One of the most-asked questions from multisite churches is, “What should we look for in a campus pastor?” or more specifically “What are some of the best campus pastor job descriptions that we could adapt?”

This mini-report, drawing from a recent Leadership Network survey of campus pastors, tries to address just that. It shows the relationship between what a campus pastor does, and how those emphases impact the job description. The final part of the report reprints a number of actual job descriptions for a campus pastor (and offers a way to obtain even more examples)…

Download the report here …

ALLIANCE MULTICULTURAL CASE STUDY & One Model of a Multi-cultural Congregation

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In my book ‘The Healthy Church‘ I have suggested there are 5 historical models of multicultural (or multiethnic) churches. I then evaluated each through the lens of John Perkins’ 3Rs. The ‘Alliance Model’ emerged as the best at addressing Perkins’ 3Rs. In this model different worship services are offered by one church in which the leadership is shared equally among all cultures. This actually creates more intercultural integration than merely worshiping together (though an Alliance Church worships united at times too :-). Here is a good example of one such church in San Diego, ‘Hope Church.’ Their motto is “Unity in diversity. One church that is multiethnic and multisite’. And their senior pastor is scheduled to address my Doctor of Ministry students in San Diego in 2018.”

From their website:

The Neighborhood Approach

San Diego is home to over 1.5 million people who live in neighborhoods such as Paradise Hills, North Park, City Heights, and surrounding communities like La Mesa and San Carlos. These communities reflect the rich diversity of San Diego and each person takes great pride in their neighborhood.

One size fits all is great for socks, not so great for church. Therefore, we have taken a neighborhood approach to church, establishing churches in individual neighborhoods throughout San Diego. Our neighborhood approach helps us become more involved in the life of each community, multiplying resources and opportunities to serve, while maintaining the neighborhood feel.

Each Hope Church campus is connected to all the other campuses through vision, values, and approach to ministry. But just as each neighborhood is unique, so is each campus.  Every location has it’s own individual style, Preaching/Campus Pastor, localized ministries, and the common goal to see churches started in every neighborhood of San Diego.

We invite you to visit a Hope Church campus this weekend…

MULTISITE & What Makes a Great Campus Pastor?

Guest Post by Jim Tomberlin, LeadNet, 8/5/15.

Ask any multisite church leader today what the most important component is in multisiting and the overwhelming answer is the campus pastor.

When I went to Willow Creek in the year 2000 to pioneer the multisite strategy I was the startup campus pastor for the first site, second site, third and fourth sites while leading the whole multisite effort. Why? No one wanted to leave the mothership for a role that had never been done for a strategy that had never been tried. Today Willow Creek gathers in seven locations across greater Chicago with much better campus pastors…!

What Does a Campus Pastor Do?

The answer to that question will depend upon the church’s purpose for multisiting, but the basic premise of a multisite church is to consistently reproduce the ministry best practices and DNA of the sending church. Therefore the primary responsibility of a campus pastor is to ensure that transfer—to be one church in multiple locations. This involves leading local site staff and volunteer teams to extend the reach and impact of the sending church.

What Are the Characteristics of an Effective Campus Pastor?

Having assisted many multisite churches across the nation, here are the characteristics I see in effective campus pastors. Assuming that this individual is a spiritually mature person of character with a proven track record, an ideal campus or site pastor is the face with the place who is a:

1. High capacity leader: a high energy,catalytic, self-starter who not only gets things done, but makes things happen!
2. Team player: someone who people will follow, but who can also follow the senior leadership of the church. Not a lone ranger maverick, but someone who is able to work on a team and within the church structure.
3. People magnet: a relational “animal” that draws people like flies to honey. They love people and people love being around them. They have a high “fun factor.”
4. Mobilizer: this person not only attracts followers but can turn them into volunteers, volunteer teams and volunteer leaders. The key to success in any pastoral position!
5. Multi-tasker: shows high capacity to juggle a lot of balls simultaneously and loves the juggling act.
6. Communicator: doesn’t have to be a bible teacher unless on the teaching team, but is capable and articulate speaking to a room full of people.
7. DNA Carrier: bleeds and defaults to the mission, vision, values, and senior leadership of the church.

The two traits that repeatedly come to the top in all of our surveys about campus pastors is that this person needs to be a high capacity leader who possesses the DNA of the church…

Read more at …