Maximising the Impact of Preaching In a Multisite Church

One of the most noticeable differences between multisite churches can be in their approach to teaching in Sunday services. For some churches it is a priority that the teaching is the same at every site, and this is sometimes achieved through the same message being shown via video in all services or through the same preacher travelling round and delivering the same message in each location. In other churches there is a shared program of preaching topics but the actual teaching is delivered by different preachers who are based at each of the sites. In still other churches the teaching program is both decided and delivered locally. In this webinar we will talk about these different approaches and help you determine which approach is right for your church. 

Special Guest: Liam Thatcher (teaching pastor of Christ Church London)


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How Does the Preaching Work In Your Multisite Church?

  • In the past Christ Church London had two repeated services in the same location but then moved to four meeting in four different locations. 
  • When they made this change, they wanted to keep things similar across the different sites - and felt that preaching was a strength.
  • To have a strong unified message and maintain relationship they wanted to do live preaching, and they staggered the start time of the meetings to make it possible for a preacher to get round to all four meetings in a day.
  • As it has grown to more meetings this has adapted. The preaching is still live, but now the same message is preached staggered over a few weeks. 
  • Colin was converted into the Methodist Church and saw how effective the circuit preacher system was for raising up young preachers. 
  • This influence Colin in what he built in Manchester - each site has local preachers that do the teaching and have their own preaching series. This has meant training up a lot of preachers!

How Does Your Approach to Preaching Impact Unity Across the Sites

  • Preaching is not one of the main unifiers - it is often perceived to be by leaders and teachers but not so much on the ground. 
  • There are lots of other things that it is important to do in order to build unity. 
  • There is a difference in how to use staff preachers and local preachers - and the potential to find a role that is somewhere in between.
  • It also becomes more complex when some of the preachers are also service leaders. 

How Are the Decisions Made About What Is Preached On?

  • At CCL there is a preaching forum including core preachers and service leaders who try to discern what God wants to say to the church and come up with a theme - Liam then comes up with a plan of how this can be organised as a series. There are conversations with local preachers about what they preach on as well. 
  • Because of the staggered preaching, thematic works better at times of the year when there is lots of central preaching - and preaching through a book at times (such as the summer) when there is more local preaching.
  • At CCM there are certain moments in the calendar (e.g. prayer week, special offerings) where the same theme is preached on everywhere. There are also certain series that have been preached that are available for different local sites to take and use. 
  • There is also a lot of developmental and training work to increase the standard of preaching and the local sites. 

How Do You Balance Wanting to Empower People to Have a Go and Wanting to Maintain a High Standard?

  • There are certain voices that you would want everyone to hear - but also hearing locally is important. 
  • At CCL a lot of the coaching is one-on-one with Liam working with individuals. There are also self feedback forms for individuals to reflect on their own preaching.
  • When you have local preaching but centralised decision making this doesn't work for everyone. You can be flexible and accessible to both the congregations and the preachers you have available.
  • A 30-minute sermon can help empower newer preachers as they come through. It makes it easier for people to do well as they are learning. 
  • There is also a need for higher level teaching - for example the Christ Church Manchester School of Theology

How Can You Leverage the Strength of the Multisite Model?

  • The majority of churches in the UK are 80-90 people. 
  • Multisite gives you the capacity to grow. 
  • You also have capacity to put on new things that a single smaller church wouldn't be able to do. 
  • When people have moved from a central location to local then sometimes it is harder to ask them to come back central for training - it can be done locally if this is the case. 

What Are the Capacity Challenges You Face As a Result of Your Model?

  • It is efficient on a preacher's time to write one sermon and then deliver it to several congregations. The extra prep time freed up can be used to improve the quality of the preaching. 
  • It can be a law of diminishing returns when you spend a lot of time preparing separate messages for smaller groups of people. Talks can be re-used with different congregations.
  • Part of the cost benefit is the challenge on capacity versus the benefit of empowering other people. 

What Are Your Thoughts on Video Preaching? 

  • It can be challenging to pull it off well technologically. 
  • Relationship is an important thing - being able to see and hear from people in a way that connect personally, not just through a screen.
  • There is a balance to strike between the quality you can achieve through video and the flexibility to change things in the moment. There is something important about being present in the moment.
  • It is not that preaching through video isn't viable - there are ways around these challenges.
  • If you have a guest speaker it can be a good way to ensure all of the congregations benefit from this. 
  • It can also be used for a one off vision-heavy message.
  • Video preaching works for a certain type of gift. It also helps if you have your own building. It costs a lot of money to make it good. 
  • A lot of churches that have gone video tend to use a hybrid model.
  • Some of the very large churches in the USA use it consistently. 

How Do You Work With Those Who Are Preaching When You Are Not There?

  • Being clear with people about the criteria up front. 
  • If they are new preacher talk through the guidelines and have a number of conversations.
  • Look through a script in advance and maybe hear a bit of it being preached in advance. 
  • Listen to the sermons either live or on the podcast.
  • Self-reflection.
  • Setting developmental goals and learning opportunities. 
  • Using other means (e.g. notices) in helping people learn to communicate. 
  • Not everyone will do well every time - taking time with people and helping them to grow when this happens is important.
  • Having people who can speak into different aspects of preaching and coach people.

Do You Have the Same Plan With Meeting Leaders Each Time You Do the Same Sermon?

  • There is a plan A for how the ministry time might go.
  • As the day goes on there is freedom and flexibility to chop and change. 
  • Sometimes the preacher needs to steer the response, other times they can hand it over to the meeting host.
  • Knowing how to land it unless God says otherwise is important.
  • Communion is an important follow up to the sermon. Think about whether this is part of the preach or part of the worship. 
  • Sometimes the danger is being too application orientated as you finish rather than looking to God.