Van Dyke Church in Lutz, FL started their first video venue when they had over 2000 in attendance at their original campus. As helpful as the resources of a larger church have been, Pastor Matthew Hartsfield believes that small and medium-size churches have distinct advantages of their own. Matthew envisions a future where smaller churches begin incorporating multi-site ministry. “The hardest part for us and for every other pastor I’ve talked to is to create a church that has a multi-site mentality to it,” Pastor Matthew says. Yet smaller churches are already equipped to overcome this. “A smaller to medium-sized church can more immediately create that replicable DNA in another setting.”
With video venue help from Fowler Productions, a small church doesn’t need to invest large sums of money up front. With only a little more than what a small church starts with these days, they can quickly double and triple in size. As they grow, they can upgrade the equipment.
To get started, Pastor Matthew and Van Dyke’s North Campus Pastor Andy Sistrunk suggest doing your homework. “The first gut check is, ‘Why are we doing this?’” Matthew says. “Simply because it will enhance our reputation, or because it will make our senior pastor look more cool, or is it because there are people in certain locations that need to be reached for Jesus?”
This can happen for two reasons, according to Matthew. The most obvious is when you don’t have any more room to grow. The second one is more missional: Where are the pockets of people near you that need Jesus? It might be a new development area, like what Van Dyke has pursued, but that’s not the only place to look. “Maybe there are places where a lot of churches have packed up and left,” Matthew suggests. “Maybe some inner city or urban environments, and you just feel called to create a campus there.”
Once you’ve identified this, don’t rush in yet. Get to know the culture of the area. “Know your context,” Andy advises. “We immediately identified that the average age in our area is 30. If you look at the personalities we have on the platform, they fit.” At the main campus, there are musicians and choir members of all ages. At the North campus; however, the worship leader is in her mid-twenties, and there is no choir.
The missing choir isn’t just a result of low starting numbers. “We needed to contextualize our music,” Andy says. “Our music’s a little edgier, a little more raw here in this area because we’re targeting a younger audience.” For some areas, it isn’t the music that needs to be contextualized but the message. “Video venue doesn’t always work for churches,” Andy says. “Sometimes you’re starting a site in an area that has a completely different context, and you need to contextualize your teaching.” For example, a suburban church starting an inner city ministry might be better off planting a church or helping fund an existing church than trying to do a video venue..
As a final bit of advice, Andy suggests choosing the location the way Van Dyke did. “Let the mission field drive the site,” he says. “Target exactly the mission field you’re after and know why you’re targeting that area. Know the percentage of folks who are unchurched. Know if there is a church in the area that is making a big footprint. Find out where God’s at work, and if God’s not at work in an area, let him be through you. And if he is at work, figure out how you can be a part of that.”
Tue, June 15, 2010
by jmiller filed under