Tag Archives: geoff surratt
Carl Thompson wins a copy of The Multi-Site Revolution
Chris Colvin wins a copy of A Multi-Site Roadtrip
Vanessa wins a copy of Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches From Growing
I’ll send you an email to obtain your shipping address and then send you the book, pronto. Thanks very much for reading the Engaging Church blog and for supporting Geoff Surratt!
This week I caught up with pastor, author, innovator, and Church catalyst, Geoff Surratt. He’s the new Director of the Exponential Conference and along with Todd Wilson and Dave Ferguson is a part of the senior leadership team. The Exponential Conference is the largest gathering of church planters on the planet with an expected attendance of 5,000 this April. Will you be there?
Andrew: Describe your new role at Exponential in two sentences. What are you really going to be doing?
Geoff: In addition to overseeing the Exponential Conference my role includes aggregating, moderating and distributing content for church leaders as well as connecting church planters, church planting networks and church planting partners. Our goal is to catalyze reproducing church movements.
Andrew: When you attend the conference this April, what will you be focused on? Will you be learning how things run and watching the “behind the scenes” organization? In short what will be going through your head, given your new role?
Geoff: My main role at the conference this year is to make sure all of the speakers have all the Diet Coke they can drink. While this may seem trivial, it is really the engine the Exponential runs on. When I’m not pouring liquid manna I will be connecting with leaders and church planters and learning how we can better serve them in the coming year. Connecting with like-minded leaders is the best part of Exponential.
Andrew: The theme of the conference this year is around the idea of God’s leaders being “sifted.” Do you have a story of being sifted?
Sometimes church communities can appear insular to outsiders. How can churches create a more open environment for welcoming and engaging interested and new members?
“What is a church’s front door? The ‘front door’ of a church is not the physical front door and has not been for a long time. It is not the sign in front of the building. And it is not the Yellow Pages ad. The front door is on the Web. We have found that when coming to our church for the first time, a majority of people, even if they come with a friend who is already a member, checked us out on the Web first. Churches need to be aware of this. And these researchers do not just go to www.yourchurch.org, they go to Google. Everything that appears in Google is what they check out – everything about your pastor, your Facebook page, etc.
Geoff Surratt is on staff of Seacoast Church, a successful and high-visibility multi-site church. He’s also the author of Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing. In a recent Zondervan interview Geoff shared his thoughts on how churches use technology to stay connected.
How do “old school” communications practices keep churches from growing and thriving?
“When I think some of the old school communications practices churches go back to again and again, two or three come to mind. A few years ago, the way you started a church or promoted a new event was to send out a mass mailer. I see churches continue to do that, but the response is going down and down and down. For the most part, response to mailers is completely dead. I also see churches communicate outside of their community via newspaper ads, and print newspaper effectiveness has dropped significantly too. Within the church, I see announcement services page used a lot. Public announcements are not very effective at communicating either. When you survey TV watchers after viewing three commercials in a row, nobody can remember the middle TV commercial. A few can remember the first, more the last. The same is true for announcements; most people are not hearing what is being said because they cannot. By the time a pastor hits three announcements, he has lost people.”
this week over 50 bloggers signed up to read and review a multi-site church roadtrip on their blogs. i’ll be keeping a running tab of these blogs and link their reviews once they are posted. here are the blogs and if they are linked, they have posted up their reviews. also, be sure to read and/or download a sample chapter of a multi-site church roadtrip from scribd, here. you can also pick up a copy of the book from zondervan, here, or at your favorite retailer.
- the book journal
- journey in the dark
- jay highham
- restoring your faith in God
- pj’s till noon
- this pilgrim land
- can’t catch my breath
- the reservoir
- an ohio reviewing mom
- the missional community
- big john’s blog
- ponderings by andrea
- applied youth ministry
- life as experienced
- mission of redemption
- christian book lounge
- listening to the wind
- r(evolving) thoughts
- thoughts of a sojourner
- pastor daniel’s blog
- something to write about
- adventures in phd land
- a short step down from thought-provoking
- see through
- digital circuit rider
- jd eddings
keep checking back as i will post links once bloggers post up their reviews. also, be sure to read and or download a sample chapter of multi-site church roadtrip here.
this week there are a number of blogs that are reviewing a multi-site church roadtrip, by geoff surratt, greg ligon, and warren bird. as people post their reviews this week, i’ll link them, but until that time, i wanted to share an interview i had with one of the authors, geoff surratt. geoff is the pastor of ministries at seacoast church and is also the author of the multi-site church revolution, and ten stupid things that keep churches from growing. his most recent release is a multi-site church roadtrip and he, greg, and warren profile 15 churches that are exploring “the new normal” of multi-site. here is the interview:
cubfann: before embarking on your “roadtrip”, were you expecting to find more similarities or differences among the multiple churches? what did you actually discover?
geoff surratt: I expected a great deal of similarity in multisite churches. Early on in the movement it seemed that churches were being attracted to a handful of models and were more or less copying each other. What we found is that multisite is taking a wide range of shapes from rural to internet to international campuses. There is no such thing as a right way to do multisite.
cf: what do you see as the biggest challenge for the multi-site/multi-venue movement in the next few years?
gs: I think the biggest challenge is to stay faithful to the vision that God has given for your church. There seems to be a trend to go multisite because that is what all of the larger churches are doing, but that is a mistake. God has a unique vision and mission for each church and it is vital that the leaders stay on the path.
cf: of the fifteen churches you visited and profiled, which one innovation stood out to you exceptionally?
gs: The innovation closest to my heart came from Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the idea of transforming communities by planting campuses. Rather than just showing up on the weekend and inviting people to come to a service, Healing Place moves into communities 24/7. The offer food, clothing, medical help, and education all given freely in the name of Jesus. This concept is catching on across the country as more and more multisite churches are opening Dream Centers of their own.
cf: satellite and preaching via the internet, like lifechurch.tv puts out, is a new concept that intrigues many. being in a technology-driven age, this idea has been growing in popularity. what are the benefits and drawbacks to this idea? what should people be aware of before deciding to use this method as their primary way of “church” worship?
gs: Internet campuses have quickly become a tool that churches across the country are taking advantage. From the very simple streaming of a weekend service to a full service campus such as Lifechurch.tv offers people are connecting virtually with their church and with each other. For some it is a great way to stay connected with their home church and for others it is a great door into church; a place they never really saw themselves going. The key for an internet church, like any church, is that people are actually connecting in life-giving relationships and living as the body of Christ. Just surfing to your church and hanging out watching a preacher on the screen by yourself isn’t living the Christian lifestyle presented in the Bible. But when people really do connect, serve and share amazing life transformation is happening through online churches.
cf: what are the most important components to keeping a multi-site church thriving?
gs: The key to any multisite church is leadership. Choosing the right leaders for campus pastors and other ministry leaders will determine the success or failure of a new campus. Beyond leadership and leadership development, the second thing you have to get right is the funding model. How are you going to pay the bills without sinking the ship? And the third component is structure. How are the new campuses going to relate to each other and the leadership of the church. Every multisite church wrestles with these issues on an ongoing basis.
cf: what advice do you have for pastors of one-campus churches that are considering going multi-site or multi-venue? what should they discuss and weigh before taking the plunge?
gs: As we discussed in our first book, The Multi-site Church Revolution, I believe there are three questions any church considering multi-site should answer:
- What is the driving impetus behind the desire to go multi-site? Is it a to handle growth? To reach a new culture? To go into an area without a life giving church? These are all legitimate reasons to go multisite. What won’t work is to go multisite to get a church to grow. Multisite is not a growth engine. Trying to become multisite without a driving vision is like trying to give birth without being pregnant.
- How healthy is your church? Are you baptizing new believers? Are you seeing people grow in their faith? Are seeing reproduction of believers? If your church isn’t healthy, then it isn’t a good idea to reproduce your disease.
- Is your senior leadership on board? Multisite isn’t like adding a new ministry or just starting a new service; multisite needs to be in the DNA of the church leadership. If the senior pastor isn’t leading the charge for adding new campuses then multisite likely will not be successful at your church.
Geoff Surratt first met Larry Osborne, pastor of North Coast Church in Vista California, at a Leadership Network multi-site church event in 2002. Seacoast was just beginning to dive into the world of video teaching and he immediately realized that Larry was the smartest guy on the planet when it came to leveraging technology to expand the Kingdom. And Larry wears really cool shirts. Over the years Larry has become a friend and a mentor both personally and through his books Sticky Church, Ten Dumb Things Christians Believe and A Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God. Geoff recently had a chance to get Larry’s wisdom on the role of video, technology and more in the future of the multi-site revolution.
You pioneered the concept of the video venue at North Coast. What do you feel are two or three reproducible keys to your success in utilizing video that other churches could reproduce?
I believe a huge part of our success was our decision early on to only use video for teaching. Many things don’t translate well on a screen (for instance music, drama, and the like). But teaching plays well in almost every geographic and demographic setting.
In fact, the biggest shock when we launched our first Video Venue was that it was so readily accepted by virtually every demographic. We thought our older folks would reject it outright. We thought younger generations might find it inauthentic. We assumed churches in the more traditional parts of the country would be highly resistant.
But we were wrong. It played well just about everywhere.
Looking back we should have realized that teaching is uniquely suited for a big screen. It allows people to clearly see facial expressions and non-verbals – which is why most people in a large facility with a video screen end up watching the screen rather than the little person up on the stage.
The other thing that I believe is easily reproducible is our use of differing music styles and ambiances to broaden our demographic outreach. Both Chris Brown (our other teaching pastor) and I are able to reach a far broader demographic (traditionalists, country music fans, and folks with lots of body art) than we could if we had a one-size-fits-all sanctuary.
How important is it for a church using video teaching to have the very best technology available?
I think the need for the quality technology is vastly overrated. You don’t need the latest and greatest in order to succeed. You can’t be so cheap that your venues are cheesy. The video can’t look like a 1980′s VCR.
At North Coast we’ve always made due with less than the best technology simply because we often can’t afford the best. We’re not a rich suburban church. We’re a blue collar church that meets in an old warehouse. If we felt we couldn’t succeed without the best and latest technology, we’d still be saving up to launch our first venue.
We’ve learned that good enough is good enough when it comes to technology. I always tell the churches we consult to buy the best they can afford. There’s no need to hawk the future for cool technology you can’t afford and there’s no reason to hold off launching a new ministry just because everyone else has better equipment.
North Coast has multiple venues with live worship bands at multiple locations and multiple service times. How do you find enough musicians to have that many worship teams?
The secret to our plethora of musicians goes back to a decision we made long before we started our Video Venues. Because we believe the job of a pastor is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) our worship pastors have always been judged, rewarded, and paid for rising up other worship leaders rather than creating an all-star band.
I find you always get what you measure and reward. So guess what? Since we measure and reward rising up worship leaders, we get worship leaders. And better yet, once we turned the corner, we discovered that musicians draw musicians. So right now I think we have something like 24 adult worship bands to pull from.
In your book Sticky Church you describe the role of sermon based small groups in the life of North Coast. How integral do you think sermon based small groups have been to the growth of North Coast?
Our attendance was about 120 when we started our sermon-based small groups. They haven’t particularly drawn people in, but they have helped to slam our back door shut – and when the back door stays shut, a church tends to grow.
We’re pretty much a word-of-mouth church (we don’t do any marketing or advertising) so closing the back door has been an essential ingredient of our growth. But the biggest advantage has been the way these sermon-based groups have enabled us to get everyone on the same page – and keep them there. That’s made us a much healthier church not just a bigger church.
What did I not ask that I should have?
You didn’t ask why my books are so much better than yours – at least that’s what my mom thinks. Though my wife, Nancy, isn’t so sure.
Other than the comments about Larry’s books being better than mine (they are, but he didn’t have to bring it up) Larry once again stretched my thinking on what is effective and what is good enough in ministry. You can read more of Larry’s insight at his blog or in Multi-site Church Roadtrip.
Geoff Surratt continues the roadtrip by visiting with Dave Ferguson of CCC:
I have stolen more multi-site concepts from Dave Ferguson and Community Christian Church than all other multi-site churches combined. Dave is one of the best thinkers (and practioners) in the world when it comes to church reproduction (the corporate kind, not the diaper kind), so I wanted to get his take on the world of multi-site as we continued our Roadtrip across America.
Q: In the book we describe the leadership structure at Community Christian. How important is structure to the success of a church using a multi-site strategy?
A: Our experience at Community and through our NewThing churches is that there are structural shifts when going to two sites; when going to a fourth site and when going to a tenth site. Because of this we are finding that a lot of churches are going to two sites; not very many churches with three sites and there are a whole lot that are going to four sites and more. Why? I think it has to do with structure. Some churches that go to two sites do not think about structure and find it overwhelming and complicated and stop reproducing sites. While there are other churches that think through the structural changes that need to be made and continue to reproduce to three sites, four sites and beyond.
Q: Community Christian does a great job of both planting churches and launching campuses. How do you distinguish between a church planter and a campus pastor?
A: We really believe the same qualities need to be in place for a campus pastor or church planter. We want them to be entrepreneurial, have a leadership gift and comfortable relating to all people (churched and un-churched) in their context. All our NewThing churches are looking to train one leadership resident per site to apprentice and become a campus pastor or church planter.
Q: You and Jon seem to do an amazing job of leading together. What advice would you give to church leaders who are considering employing family members in their ministry?
A: They key to family working together is much like any staff working together: good character, great chemistry and genuine competency. However, (and I’m sure Geoff Surratt will agree with me) it takes a very special and humble leader to allow their brother to be the lead pastor. Jon (like Geoff at Seacoast) could easily be the lead pastor at this Community or any other church; but instead he uses his extraordinary leadership gifts without getting all the kudos that come with being the lead pastor. I have more respect for Jon, than any other church leader I know.
Q: You have been a leader from the very beginning of the multi-site revolution in America. What do you see next on the horizon for multi-site in American churches?
A: I love this question! In fact, Jon and I just finished our next book,Exponential: How You and Your Friends can Start a Missional Church Movementand we talk about this. So here is what I see on the horizon:
- More new sites will be launched by sites other than the original site. In other words we will see new sites reproducing new sites.
- Sites will be launched not based on the competency of the mother church, but on the strengths and needs of the community where the new site is started.
- There will be less of the “We use video” vs. “We develop teachers” battle and more multi-site churches will use both video and in-person teaching.
- A lot more campus pastors will be female and there will be evidence that they are more effective than men in this role which will bring some controversy.
- Multi-site churches will think in terms of launching a region with multiple sites and not one new site at a time.
- Online churches ill not just have one site, but they will also have multiple sites!
- The churches that are effective in reproducing new sites will be the churches that are most effective in reproducing missional communities.
Q: In your book The Big Idea you describe how every ministry at Community is on the same page. How does the Big Idea work in a multi-site environment?
A: It was going to multiple sites that caused us to be intentional about implementing the Big Idea. It was our conclusion that having every campus on the same Big Idea would bring alignment to our vision and mission. Practically speaking here is how it works: we plan our Big Idea series a year in advance. Thirteen weeks in advance of the celebration service the teaching team develops and writes a Big Idea “graph” which is a one page summary that gives clear direction and scriptural content. Ten weeks in advance the teaching team plans the whole message in that series and gives writing assignments. The following week, nine weeks in advance our creative arts team plans the creative elements such as video, sketches, music, interactive moments, etc… to better accomplish the Big Idea. This same process is done for all our large group and small groups for adults, students and kids. It is awesome!