Guest Post by Rich Birch
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Last Sunday we canceled all 11 of our regular services at Liquid Church and asked people to join us at the Jersey Shore for one large service. It was an amazing Sunday as thousands of people from all our locations came together to celebrate what God has done through our church and talk about the future! A few of my personal highlights from Liquid at the Shore were:
- Hearing thousands of people laughing in church … our campus pastors did this totally goofy part of the service and I just loved hearing everyone enjoy it.
- Tim Lucas, our lead pastor, did a superb job casting vision for the future of our church. It was great to see people respond to the clarified vision that we’ve been working on as a leadership team for the last few months.
- Watching my wife lead the charge at her campus and help dozens of people get baptized in huge rolling waves in the ocean!
Liquid at the Shore was a significant undertaking from a time and finances perspective. Why would we bother to take a risk on this? Here are some reasons that an “all under one roof” event is strategically important for multisite churches:
- Vision Matters // Every once in a while it’s important for a church to put a stake in the ground and clearly articulate why it exists. Although we do that from time to time in our normal services, rallying our community under one roof accentuates what God is calling us to do.
- Experiences Count // In a world of increasing “virtual and digital” engagement, we need to give our community experiences that aren’t replicated online. Although we believe that people can be reached and grow online, there seems to be an imperative in the New Testament to continue to meet together. [ref] Friendship at its core is just shared experience and Liquid at the Shore was packed full with common experiences for our community to enjoy together. Our hope is those common experiences will encourage even more friendships to form and deepen.
- Momentum Marker // It’s been three years since we’ve done an “all under one roof” service. We had nearly three times as many people participate than we had at the last one. Events like this serve as signposts in the life and growth a church. It’s a pause to take stock of what God is doing. When you serve week in and week out at a campus, you can miss the larger story God is writing. Pulling everyone together gives us all a visual reminder of what God is doing!
- Social Media Fodder // Days like this are built for sharing. So much of what happened was begging for people to share on various social media channels. We had hundreds of people sharing quotes from Tim’s message … or photos of the magician in the service … or video from our Campus Pastors dancing on stage. In a social media world we need to think about events like this from an shareability point of view.
- It’s a Stretch // If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we already got. The act of working together to pull off an event like this forces our teams to think in new ways. It breaks us out of the monotony of the weekly routine of leading at a church. It helps us think differently about what we do. Our hope is that innovation will be spurred as we look at our ministry in a new way.
- Church is Fun // Since the gospel is good news, the church should be good at throwing parties! Celebration is a lost spiritual discipline. Events like this force us to exercise our celebration muscles. Joy is a strategic tool in the midst of a cynical world. It points towards the inner reality of what God has done in our lives. Having fun is a strategic priority for churches who want to make an impact.
- Jesus Loves Jersey // We’re passionate about reaching New Jersey. He’s placed us in the middle of the most densely populated state in the country and he’s calling us to reach out to other communities. Our hope is that people from this part of the state will connect with our church in the coming years. Literally taking the church to this region began developing relationships there that we’re asking God to use as a bridge to reaching people.
This post originally appeared on Unseminary.
Rich Birch has been involved in church leadership for over 15 years, and currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey.