Although a bit lengthy, i wanted to paste in this conversation that happened between a lifegroup and some staff…
I’ve done some editing to abbreviate the dialogue. ~mike
Q: As a whole, people were excited about the growth we have been seeing. However the discussion raised some questions … one question in particular was that it seems that we have lots of new people checking out vista but we aren’t retaining people over the long run. …Do we have any background on why people aren’t staying at Vista and would this new second site/second service help with those reasons?
A: This is true in every church…one of the biggest questions in churches is why do we have such a big back door and how do we get people connected quickly…this is not unique just to Vista.
A: We operate differently than many churches. We lease our space. We’re deliberately simple. We’re not very programmatic. All of this adds up to a different church experience than many people are use to. For those who are looking for a traditional, programmatic church … they won’t find it at Vista and will [most likely] leave. Vista challenges people. Our core values are centered around being relational, being a servant and being transformed. This takes time and effort which may be too much for some. We understand that Vista isn’t for everyone. Unfortunately, we do lose people … again, they’re looking for a different church. We have to be okay with that. However, we don’t want to lose those who don’t yet know Jesus or are new believers. They should have our attention. We need to work on creating connection opportunities for these attendees. Lifegroups and ministry teams are a good way for that to happen.
Q: There was also some concern that although a 2nd site seems to be a great direction for vista to go, that it might be a little premature for such a young church. Maybe we should grow our teaching team and leaders so that when we go we are better positioned. I think of the parable that warns of the builder that doesn’t weigh the costs before starting the project.
A: As you’ve seen … we’re growing. We’re getting the sense that we need to expand. Even though the auditorium isn’t at capacity, our Kids Community classrooms are overloaded. We are close to running out of room for the kids. As we forecast attendance, by years’ end we will be close to capacity in the auditorium and above capacity in Kids Community. Taking all of this into consideration, we’ve begun to develop a list of 10 – 12 ‘watermarks’ that would need to be reached prior to launching the extension. If we reach these ‘watermarks’, that would be confirmation for us that we are moving as God intended. If not, we stop, pray and reconsider. We’ll soon bring those ‘watermarks’ public for discussion and refinement…
A: If God leads us to an additional site this can be a strategic way of growing a teaching team and more leaders for all facets of the ministry…… as happened when Vista was launched
Q: Another question came along the lines of who are our leaders? Given the organic nature of Vista and the idea that the church is the body and not just paid staff positions, it seemed hard for members of our lifegroup to identify with leaders other than Mike primarily and secondly those up front on Sunday. As we discussed that a 2nd site would bring about the need for leaders to step up, the natural question was: who are our current leaders and have we identified potential leaders for such a new endeavor?
A: We have two spheres of leadership: a core leadership team and a broader leadership community. The core leadership team is comprised of elders and staff. The leadership community is built upon those who lead groups and ministries. This team includes: Lifegroup leaders, Lifesupport leaders and ministry leaders. There’s something about your question that’s refreshing (in one sense) for me … we try to be organic … I’m okay with people not necessarily knowing who the ‘primary’ leaders are. Ideally, the entire leadership community should be leading, caring, equipping and discipling and not dependent on staff and elders. With that, I understand the need for some to know who’s behind the wheel.
A: With regards to new leaders … this is an ongoing process. We’re looking for and need leaders to step-up at Vista regardless if we have one location or 10 sites. We are currently working on a leadership development / discipleship program. We need to help our leaders understand that they need to reproduce themselves. Since the first of the year, we’ve had three leadership community gatherings and are planning another for Sunday, June 6th. These gatherings are used to cast vision, articulate values, hear from other leaders and make connections. Relative to the second site, we’ll let people know of the leadership positions that need to be filled before we can move forward.
Q:Keeping along those same lines of leaders, we discussed that keeping consistency with the message was something everyone felt strongly about. People shared that at previous churches, there was 1 pastor who was clearly better than others at preaching and if he was to rotate amongst services and with other teachers, people would either follow that one person or be nervous about bringing someone new without knowing that they were going to hear the A pastor. Mike’s time is limited and how many services would he be able to teach at until we were faced with the scenario of an A and B teacher? The idea of a Video sermon was strongly opposed and from most with firsthand experience.
A: There’s no doubt that people connect with the pastor. That couldn’t be more true with Pastor Mike. He is a gifted communicator and his style resonates with many. Our thought with a second (or maybe more appropriately) an extension site is that it carries the same values, characteristics and distinctives as Vista. Teaching synergy is key. Mike will teach the same message at both locations. Obviously, we are sensitive to Mike’s load. He cannot carry this load for 51 weeks out of the year. Therefore, we have other pastors / people who teach on occasion. We would like to have and are building a teaching team who can rotate in as necessary. For instance, next month is intern month. We’ll have our seminary students teach in Mike’s absence. This provides growth opportunities on many levels. Additionally, the extension site would have a site pastor who would teach once a month. Initially, the site pastor would be responsible for building relationships, caring for the church and connecting with the community. As he becomes more comfortable with constructing and delivering a message, he would take a larger load of the teaching responsibility. When you think of our values and the importance of growing and discipling leaders, this model aligns. There are many gifted people at Vista. As leaders, we need to continue grooming, training, building and essentially creating exercise space for our next generation leaders to run. With regards to video sermons – doesn’t seem to fit for us. Although, I have seen it done very well. In the right space, it can work.