Friday, February 09, 2007

Some Observations on the 2/5,6 Multi-Site Conference in San Diego

Some final thoughts:

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church

On the second and last day of the conference, we had the opportunity to hear Mark Driscoll talk about Mars Hill Church's multi-site adventure so far. It was a very practical talk where Mark worked over 700 of us in two venues through ten different levels of escalating complexity that are avail to church communities going multi-site. He layered on, for example,

    • multiple services
    • in multiple rooms
    • on multiple days
    • in rooms of multiple sizes
    • with multiple technologies
    • with multiple preachers
    • in multiple cities, etc
At each juncture he commented on different approaches and challenges that Mars Hill has used.

That was the morning plenary and it stimulated thought on the logistics of multi-site.

Seacoast Church and Leadership Formation

One of the best breakouts that I attended was Mac Lake's Tuesday session detailing Seacoast's Leadership Development Strategy. I had become interested in Seacoast's approach to leadership formation when I had interviewed Mac last year for a multi-site article Leadership Network asked me to write called Avoiding Detours - 2 Years Later. Mac's comments were prominent in that article.

In our session on Tuesday, Mac detailed how their classroom approach had created a bottleneck of leadership development with several disadvantages:
  • People can only be developed who can come to the classes.
  • People are very busy and it's hard for them to find both the travel and classroom time.
  • Semester or Quarter systems means that timing is non-flexible.
  • Folks walk out of the workshops having bonded to the workshop facilitator and not to the leader who will actually mentor them in the church's real world.
  • The classroom is an artificial environment.
  • A bottleneck is caused by the limited number of folks one facilitator can work with in a classroom environment.
Contemplating these limitations led Seacoast to two significant new breakthrough strategies:

1) They multiplied those developing leaders by empowering all of their current leaders to develop leaders. So instead of relying on a master facilitator, Seacoast now relies on current leaders to develop proteges up to their own level of leadership.

2) While relying on this mentor-protege model, Seacoast marshaled into service the free education program Moodle so that the information-transfer piece of leadership development could be handled online at the convenience of the protege. At the end of each lesson, each student meets with their coach and sets an expectation of when the next lesson will be completed. Moreover, the coach provides each developing leader with real-life assignments, actual leadership experiences, and spiritual friendship.

Now Seacoast has transitioned from having 1 Leadership Developer to having over 600 utilizing this online tool.

Noel Heikkinen, Dan Price, and DJ Chuang

I also got the chance to meet and have a great chat with Noel Heikkinen and Dan Price, who are two of the pastors at Riverview Church in Holt, Michigan. We sat down on Tuesday with DJ Chuang and discussed the advantages of a flat-structure plural oversight (Noel is crafting a book on this topic) and how churches that opt to continue with a lead or senior pastor can nevertheless benefit from implementing some of the features of such an oversight, such as mutual transparency and accountability and the importance of releasing the leadership gifts of everyone on the leadership team.

Noel also shared with me a bit of Riverview's impressive Good to Great story.

Dave Ferguson and Community Christian Church in Chicago

The final session of the conference was a lively presentation by Dave Ferguson, who is the lead pastor of Community Christian Church in Chicago. Dave Leake provides a summary here.

Dave's enthusiasm and genuineness really stood out in his talk; it was refreshing and energizing. He emphasized how what many are calling their creativity and ingenuity was really just their taking advantage of opportunities they eventually came to see as coming from God (though this group is unquestionably creative and ingenuous!)

Grace Community Church - the Baltimore-Washington Corridor

As I mentioned before I flew to San Diego, I was able to participate in the conference through the gracious sponsorship of Grace Community Church and Leadership Network. Grace brought 11 key leaders to investigate the possibility of going multi-site. At the end of the day after dinner, the Grace Team gathered in our hotel lobby and discussed just two questions: 1) What have you learned? and 2) What questions do you still have.

LN and North Coast ran the conference using multiple venues with both video and live speakers to emulate the multi-site experience. One thing that struck me was that for some leaders in our group, actually seeing the multi-site experience enabled them for the first time to see in their imagination how such a strategy might play out for our church community as well.

Much more could be said about the conference. If you'd like to see what other bloggers have written about this event, click here.

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