The church is not a building. However, in our 4-season climate, a building is a pretty important for any ekklesia gathering. We set out to find some locations in Neepawa where we might be able to meet as church - but in a town of 4000 people, our options aren't nearly as plentiful than if we were in a larger centre.
We wanted to run all possible locations through a matrix of criteria:
We quickly realized that purchasing a building brings with it a cost way too high to bring any building up to the standards that we want or need for a church function. Commercial real-estate in Neepawa isn't too expensive, but with a renovation we'd end up dumping twice as much money into a building than what it is worth.
This led us down the path of examining other public meeting spaces and ultimately, eyeing up what it means to meet in a public school. However, with the first phone call, we weren't met with the warmest embrace...
Our church has started plans in motion for launching our first multisite location in the town of Neepawa, Manitoba. When faced with the how, we had two main options: "traditional" church plan (which, in itself has many different layers about what that actually looks like) or multisite (again, many different layers). You can read up on my own personal journey on how I became a fan of multisite here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
We decided to go in the multisite direction for a few reasons that I think might be a fantastic fit for rural communities:
Granted, these five-points will share some characteristics with church planting and sometimes, depending on the model, a church plant may really excel at some of these points. These points weren't meant to start a planting vs. multisite fight, rather highlight some of the reasons why multisite might work really well in a rural context.
The best part, I believe, is that multisite is very flexible in what it looks like - you can really customize what each location looks like while maximizing the established structure and healthy dynamics of an established church!
What do you think? Can multisite work in rural contexts? Can multisite be done that in a way that is different than what we've seen done already? Leave a comment!
A Critique Of David Fitch
This is a post where I want to work out my own thoughts on what it means for a church to go multisite and use video teaching. I am far from an expert on these matters and in full disclosure, I have only attended a video-venue church once, I have never worked at a video-venue church, or a church larger than 650 people, and I am currently working out how our church will do multisite... and some of it will most likely be video.
With those biases out of the way, I'd like to formulate my own thoughts in response to David Fitch's post on "How the multi-site video venue works against mission."
One of the things I appreciate about Mr. Fitch's work is that he is intelligent enough to realize that medium affects the message - especially when one of the main tenants of the faith we proclaim is emmanuel, God with us, and that that incarnational truth is played out as we teach scripture; we model the incarnation through our presence in the midst of the church. I actually wish that some people who are a lot smarter than I would unpack Marshal McLuhan's the medium is the message in an ecclesiological light.
David Fitch defines "missional church" as:
"the church mobilized for incarnational ministry occupying the place of Christ's humble servant presence in a locale whereby we live an entire way of life that witnesses to the salvation of God birthed in the person and work of Jesus Christ."
A little wordy, but generally I agree and think that it touches on some great things:
Where I find fault with Mr. Fitch's article is the assumptions and conclusions he makes as a result of his definition...
Last night we hosted a vision night for our church to hear from us on the plans that we have for our multisite launch in Neepawa, MB. Up until this time, there haven't been much communicated with the congregation apart from 1) where we're going (Neepawa) 2) Who's going (my family) and 3) More info will follow.
We decided to recreate the vision pitch that was given to our denominational district office a year ago that laid out what we wanted to do, why it was a good idea and how our church could partner with the district office to help make it a reality. We also wanted to include our story of how my wife and I processed the call on our lives.
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.