Congregations Explore “One Church Multiple Locations”

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Miscellanies | 4 comments

one church multiple locationsAn historic meeting took place on Monday, May 19, 2014 in Morrison. Fourteen individuals, representing three congregations (First Christian Reformed Church of Fulton (IL), Bethel Christian Reformed Church of Fulton, and the Morrison (IL) Christian Reformed Church), came together, with the authorization of their Councils, to discuss a future of shared ministry. The conversation was led by Sam Hamstra, founder of ChapterNext. The two hour meeting characterized by hope and joy as the participants embraced the promise that God is able to do far more than we ask or imagine by His power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20-21).

The group decided to explore in a model of ministry employed by a growing number of large congregations: “One Church Multiple Locations.”  Basically, this model would allow three congregations to function as one.  Of course, there are many more conversations that need to take place in order to flesh out the details of that model. So, the group will meeting every month for as many months as it takes.

The first meeting also included a walk through an article by Dr. Duane Kelderman entitled “Why is Change So Difficult?” The article appeared in the May 2014 edition of the Banner. The article helped the group understand that they are about the difficult task of adaptive change – the task of changing culture, values and behaviors. It provided three great practices which will prove essential:

1. Be hopeful. Remember that adaptive work, while murky and often painful, is the way to new life. Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Like Jesus, organizations go through death and resurrection. Adaptive work is the way to new life.

2. Pray. Expect God to work and reveal new things in these searching times. Too often the church functionally operates as though it doesn’t need God but can do just fine with its latest management techniques and problem-solving skills. The church on its knees before God is in a position where it will finally look to God to act.

3. Focus on the mission. The irony of the gospel is that when churches try to save their life, they lose it; but when churches are willing to lose their life for Christ’s sake, they find it. The goal of adaptive work in the church is not institutional survival. It is rediscovering our mission, our true identity. Churches that focus on their own institutional survival die. Churches that lose their life for God’s sake find life, even though that life may look very different from past institutional forms.



  1. Did any specific thing cause these congregations to consider this avenue?

    • A couple years ago, one of the pastors planted a seed for shared ministry. At the time he did so, two of the congregations were without pastors and had contracted ChapterNext to help them with their searches. Through the process, the seed of shared ministry was watered so that the leadership of each of the three congregations agreed to talk about it. And we have! Praise the Lord.

      • That sounds wonderful. I pray it all works out smoothly. I was ministering in a rural area and approached a neighboring pastorless church about teaming up. Their rejection of the idea was quicker than if they took ipecac.

        Will the churches stagger their service times or video in the sermons?

  2. I would be interested in hearing about an update on this shared ministry project. Is that possible?
    Knowing the CRC cultural context, the initiative is both challenging as well as inspiring. It has a good chance of working since the three churches all share the same basic doctrinal and cultural values and beliefs. At the same time it is challenging because the CRC is not well known for its evangelistic fervor and the danger is that a mutually self-defeating stupor sets in because the real change is not just working together but rather creating a mission culture within an established church. With God, all things are possible….I would love to hear how they are doing….

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