Monday, July 21, 2008

Thomas & Rebecca's Wedding

June 14, 2008

I don't do too many weddings anymore. I just don't have the time for 6 weeks of counseling, rehearsal & wedding. But this year I've officiated at a few.

One of my favorites was Thomas & Rebecca. I not only loved them as a couple, but the wedding was held on a cruise ship in Burrard Inlet.
It was a gorgeous clear evening, the wedding party delightful and the food delicious. It was a fun wedding.

Multi-Site Churches

Multi-Site Churches

Things are constantly changing—
If we don’t adapt to those changes, we’ll become irrelevant.

Back when I was a boy in the 1950’s, my brothers and sisters and I would consider it a huge adventure to walk down Kings Avenue to 22nd Street to buy a treat at “The Ridge”. The Ridge was a 5 & 10 cent store just past Pauline Johnson Elementary School where we completed grades 1—6. At that small, dingy convenience store, we could purchase three jaw breakers or two double-bubbles (with free cartoons and riddles) for a penny. Three or four cents would keep us high on sugar for the whole day.

That was half a century ago. Today, The Ridge no longer exists. Some developer bought the property many years ago and built apartments where we once shopped for candy. As a matter of fact, I don’t know of many independently owned 5 & 10 cent stores that exist anymore in the Greater Vancouver area.

During those same years, my family attended the Friendly Foursquare Church. About sixty of us, plus or minus a few inconsistent adherents, regularly worshipped every Sunday. At 10:00 a.m. was Sunday School, 11:00 was the worship service and at 7:00 p.m. we returned for the evangelistic service. (I don’t remember anyone actually becoming a believer in any of those services.) The Sunday evening service always concluded with prayer at the altar.

In the 1950’s, following World War II about 65% of Canadians attended church every Sunday. (40% were Roman Catholic and 60% were Protestant.) Because of the Lord’s Day Act, all stores were closed and there was not much else to do. All of my school friends went to Sunday School, at least till they were 10 or 12 years of age.

It’s different now

As I said earlier, those Ma & Pa stores and restaurants of the 1950’s are all but extinct now. Small stores were replaced first by strip malls or plazas; then by larger enclosed malls, and now by big box stores and Outlet Centers. No economically savvy person would consider opening up an independent convenience store today. Small family restaurants also are all but a thing of the past.

Today it’s 7/11, Giant Dollar Stores or nothing for all those convenience items; Tim Horton’s and Starbucks; chain restaurants such as Milestones, McDonald’s, White Spot or Montana’s dominate the food industry.

How about those small family churches? Where are they now? Over the past twenty years in our Tri-City area, we’ve seen about fifteen of them try starting up. Almost none have been successful.

Multi-ethnicity is the new reality

The exceptions to the trend are ethnic churches.

When I went to Elementary school in West Van, I remember a few kids who immigrated. An English boy named Andrew, who wore short pants in the winter, a Scot named Angus, a German boy (his name was Heinz, but he quickly changed it to Butch) and an Italian girl who I remember learned English in six months flat. Her name was Lena. I can’t recall ever knowing a Chinese, Korean or Iranian student.

Today, if I were to walk into the nearest school to my home in Coquitlam, the majority of the students would have black hair (some dyed orange) and brown eyes. Most of them would be Asian or Middle Eastern.

New churches are almost all ethnic

In the last year, we in the Foursquare Church of Canada have started or connected with a dozen new churches. Ten of the twelve are ethnic—Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Ethiopian, Arabic, Spanish, Haitian—there are a rainbow of colours in our Foursquare family today. It’s wonderful! Any successful church plant in our community over the past twenty years has been ethnic.

As I observe the social and ethnic changes that are all around us, it is evident that the church has to adapt its growth strategies to the new realities, or it will not survive. Any who remain the same will be rendered irrelevant.

Two of the most significant trends in our communities today (this relates largely to the major population centers) are restaurant and retail chains and multi-ethnic diversity.

Ten Reasons to Consider a Multi-site and/or Multi-ethnic Church Philosophy

There are many new trends in North American church growth today. To name a few, there are mega-churches, Alpha groups, home-based churches, video churches, web churches and multi-campus churches. My observation is that multi-site churches are a notable trend worth our careful study.

A multi-site church has one vision, one mission, one lead pastor (we call him pastor but in truth he is an entrepreneurial spiritual leader) but two or many more location. The sites, which may be called campuses or satellites, may all be in one community (such as Northside Church’s three campuses which are all within a 10 km triangle), or across provincial and even national boundaries.

Following are some of the notable components of a multi-site church.

1. A strong visionary, entrepreneurial leader
Again, we often misname this person as pastor, when in reality he or she may do little pastoring. A more apt biblical title may be bishop, but that word is often misunderstood because of its historical usage and misusage. Lead Pastor is as good a title as any. His or her primary gift should be leadership, but must also be skilled at vision, business, relationship building and leadership development. Romans 12:6a, 8 “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Because he is a spiritual leader, he should be prophetic, experienced, discerning, servant-hearted, wise, faith-filled, a teacher, spirit-filled and biblically mature.

In my experience, I’ve met hundreds of wonderful, gifted, spiritually mature pastors, but few of these are strong, entrepreneurial, spiritual leaders.

This lead pastor would take the lead and be the primary voice to all campuses. He may use teaching or care teams, but those teams must be led by the lead pastor.

2. Gifted pastors serving each campus
These pastors will be gifted in pastoral skills, which include teaching, care, encouragement, organization, counseling, healing and small group leadership. They should be willing to be #2 and not biting at the heels of the Lead Pastor.

They may be a husband/wife team, male, female, full-time, part-time, retired from secular work, Bible College educated or specifically trained for pastoral care.

Each campus, whether it’s a small group who meet in a remote area, or a significant size should have a recognized pastor whom congregants can talk to and receive care or counsel. The Campus pastor will likely not be the primary teacher/preacher, but may speak once a month or on special occasions (e.g. Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter). Because he or she would not be responsible for administration, finance or preaching, they could likely serve part-time or be sixty plus years of age.

3. Accounting and finance and administration
Likely these three areas of management would be done by the head office staff. Thus there is a cost saving because there is no need to duplicate administrative staff. Offerings would be counted and put in the bank by each campus, but management, accounts receivable and payable, and reports would be done by the hub branch.

4. Hub churches
Like any chain store, there would be a head office. Likely the management and accounting would be done by the head office. The Network could be diagramed like this:

Secretarial – Also in the hub church, the secretarial pool would do all the major preparing and printing of bulletins, web page, newsletters, correspondence, Missions co-ordination, etc.

Telephone/communications – The hub church may well be the nerve centre of all communications. When a person calls, the receptionist will answer, “Life Centre Foursquare Church, Lisa speaking. How may I direct your call?” Then after the person answers, she can direct the call to any campus pastor in that area code, or take a message for that pastor or department head to return the call. The pastor of a small home-based campus may have a full-time job but still would receive the email, text, or call on his cell phone wherever he or she is.

5. Name branding and influence
If the truth were known most people in our communities and most political or educational leaders do not know that most churches (50% of churches are 75 people or less and many have no permanent address) even exist. If we shut down one week, very few people would notice or care.

But consider a hub church, with six campuses all by the same name who were spread throughout the community, advertised together, enjoyed each other’s success (one may specialize in 12 Steps, another in Alpha, care for the poor, or helping single moms); name brand t-shirts were worn by the teens and kids, bulletin boards and bus stops bore the church name and logo. Name branding and influence are important components of growth. The more campuses means more circles of influence and a wider reputation of the church.

In Northside Church, some have heard of our work with the poor, others with addicted, homeless, unwanted pregnancy, newspaper articles, TV appearances. A good reputation in our communities is a biblical directive.

6. Video
We live in a wonderful age to do church. Because the entire forty and under generations have been virtually reared on television, using video in church is as normal as live preaching was to their parents.

Focus on the Family, Alpha, courses such as marriage, divorce-care, grief care and others have been using video teaching successfully for years. It’s already widely accepted as a preferable way of communicating. In any church of four hundred or more, very few people actually have a conversation or relationship with the pastor. He is simply the person up front who preaches or teaches.

Listening to and watching a video is actually easier than a little live pastor on the stage. The image is often portrayed on two or more screens, is larger than life, brighter and placed higher than the pastor would normally stand.

7. A variety of traditions meet a variety of interests
Some multi-site churches offer a variety of worship styles. Northpoint Church, just north of San Diego has twenty-seven venues. Each offers the same sermon via video, but a different worship tradition. One campus may offer hymns with organ and piano music; another Christian Rock & Roll; another unplugged guitars and drums or Country-style. Several venues are side by side in a strip mall, so a family can come to church and each person can worship in the way God speaks to him.

A multi-site church may offer different campuses for a variety of ethnic traditions. The sermon may be the same; all the children and youth meet together, but the adults may gather in separate venues where the sermon is translated into Chinese, Korean or Farsi.

8. Cost Savings
Financing a church is an expensive endeavor in this generation. In the 1950’s a church, with a parsonage and about 70 congregants, could support a pastor and his family. Today it takes a church, with no parsonage and about 200 congregants, to support a pastor (and maybe a part-time youth leader and secretary).

Multi-site churches require that only one Lead Pastor be paid and the work he or she does is simply spread out further. One phone number for the church and one receptionist to answer the phones. One bulletin, one administrative person, one church council, one staff.

If buildings are close enough, programs can be run in any available space at either campus.

More buying power: Besides having more influence with Civic leaders, Newspapers and other churches, multi-site churches also can benefit from bulk purchase with suppliers.

9. Staff meetings are fun
In small one-pastor churches, leadership can be very exhausting. The pastor must serve as Jack-of-all-trades.

In a multi-site church, which becomes a multi-pastor church (even if the host pastor is volunteer or part-time) a pastor can work according to his or her gifts. That promotes fulfillment, productivity and joy.

Then there becomes a staff, who may meet evenings or weekends who are each working within their own gift, talent and skill set. Together, they are less competitive and more collegial. Staff meetings become fun and stimulating.

The Leader gives vision, direction, challenge and encouragement – everyone else finds satisfaction in being a part of something bigger and more influential.

10. Multi-site churches should not come from necessity, but by choice
None of us respond well to being forced into a corner. Churches are like people – they need leadership, but must choose to follow. Any decisions to move into multi-sites should be presented well in advance to elders, church councils, staff and membership.

The church needs to feel ownership of the vision (the big picture), as well as every enjoined campus.

Multi-campus ministry is by no means a new idea. About 3000 years ago, a prophet named Samuel was given a 3 point charge by God.

Samuel’s circuit took him from Bethel, to Gilgal, to Mizpah. These three cities formed a triangle about 20 km wide. Samuel actually lived in Ramah, but made the circuit regularly.He worked as a judge (same word as savior) and a priest in all 3 places.

Much later in history, Methodist preachers in the US began traveling by horse back as circuit-riding preachers to multiple sites. Along the way they preached in people’s homes, court houses, fields and street corners. In 1784 there were 43 circuits and by 1844 they’d grown to 4000 circuit riders. Methodism grew to be the largest denomination in the US during those years because of their multi-site philosophy of ministry.

Calgary & Edmonton

June 21, 2008

I had a great visit in beautiful Alberta this week. The highlight of my trip was the induction of Barry (& Audrey) Marsten as the Lead Pastor of our new 2-campus church in Calgary & Airdrie.

I've attached an article I wrote for them on Multi-site churches, following this entry. We have 7 of these Multi-site churches in Canadian Foursquare at this time, but I feel like this is just the beginning of a new wave.

During the weekend I also had an opportunity to meet with some new & also long-time Foursquare Pastors.

Jose & Ana Acosta are experienced Foursquare Spanish pastors who are starting a church in Calgary for Spanish-speaking people.

Doug & Lois Boyd and Jana Wasylyshyn are pastoring up in Edmonton. I was very excited to hear and see their plans for remodeling and adding to their present facility - New Life Church.

Greg & Val Kurjata are serving as Foursquare Evangelists. I love listening to the enthusiasm and passion that Greg brings to the table.

I first met Jonathan & Aimee Seloza in Manila. Jonathan was a Foursquare Pastor there in the Philippines. Now that he has come to join Aimee in Edmonton, their plan is to plant a Filipino Church in Edmonton.

BC Christian Academy

June 18, 2008

I've worked alongside the leaders of BCCA since its inception. It's a great Christian School led by principal Ian Jarvie.

This week I had the honor of praying a dedicating prayer over the school, teachers and students as they move into their new building.

But it was a double honor because their new facility is what was formerly Lincoln Elementary School. Not only did our children, Kelly & Kristy, attend Lincoln from Grades 1-7 but it was also the school where our Northside Church was birthed and spent our first 7 years.

I hadn't been back since we built our PoCo Campus in 1987 - It was very nostalgic to stand and pray in that place that was dedicated to God on May 27, 1987.

Blessings to BC Christian Academy.

International Convention

Houston, Texas
May 25, 2008

Several of our Foursquare leaders from Canada flew to Houston to meet together, while enjoying the encouragement and stimulation of the USA Convention.

About 20 of us were there altogether - we were treated like royalty by our American and International friends. And of course, we took one day to tour the Houston Space Centre.

Vancouver Korean Church

May 25, 2008

On this Sunday I spoke at our largest Canadian Foursquare Korean Church. But more important than my sermon was the privilege I had of praying for (ordaining) several new deacons in the Church. Pastor Sam Nam was a gracious host to Susan & me.

Praise Christian Family Church

May 18, 2008

We have 6 Filipino congregations in the Foursquare Church in Canada either fully going or just beginning. In May I was invited by Pastor Gina Dolor in Toronto to present their much-coveted Church Charter.

Congratulations to my beloved Filipino friends. Attending Gina's Church was just like being in the Philippines. After Church we had a grand feast including a roast pig - always the centre of any big Filipino celebration!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Francophone Conference

April 21-23, 2008

Tom Gardner & I travelled back to Virginia in April. We have a wonderful Foursquare Conference Centre there called CrossPointe in Christiansburg, VA.

When the Muslim stronghold went bankrupt (a few Foursquare ladies nearby were praying for that) the Foursquare Gospel Church purchased the 100+ acres and developed it into a conference and retreat centre.

The Francophone Conference was attended by Foursquare Pastors & leaders from many of the 44 Francophone nations. I've included here an excerpt from Tom's notes on the conference:

We saw a video from the ICFG Convention in Jerusalem that chronicled the tearing down of a minaret (Moslem prayer tower) that was a part of the Conference Center in Christiansburg. The property had originally been purchased and developed as a training center for Islam in the geographical center in the Eastern part of the US. The center had a mosque that had never been worshiped in but had spiritual implications. The leadership of the US Church felt that the tower and mosque needed to be torn down. So Pastor Jack explained the rationale and the impact and promise of “towers coming down.” We viewed a DVD chronicling the fall of the tower on the property and we felt as though we were there and we appropriated this promise of the towers of Islam falling around the world and specifically in the French speaking countries of Africa and France.

The morning of April 22, 2008 was significant in that Canadians were the main presenters:

Barry opened with a brief overview of Canada communicating on some of the national
characteristics of our people and culture.

Shannon shared next about the struggles of coming into Quebec and breaking into the culture. She showed a video that helped people understand various parts of Quebec life and the need for the Gospel. Very interesting was the reality that Aimee’s meetings spawned many churches in Quebec and yet we have only the work in Sherbrooke at present.

Then Dan Fontaine shared passionately about the struggle for identity in Quebec and showed some very powerful videos to educate people about the history of Quebec in Canada. Dan represented us well.

Every meal we ate was representative of another French Nations cuisine. I believe this conference will spur us on in our development of Quebec as a Foursquare Province. Other national leaders, including Dan & Martine Lucero, who oversees our International French-speaking nations was enthusiastic about working beside us.

International Dinner

February 2008

One of my favorite parts of ministry is celebrating with Internationals. I love the cultural differences that each of us brought to the table.

Our church is about 30% other-than-Canadian born, so many nations give flavor and color to all that we do. Here's a few pictures from an International dinner we had in February to celebrate Lunar New Year!