"How can we multiply what we're doing if we haven't figured out yet how to get it right." Those are the words of one of my favorite pastors from one of the largest churches in America when he and his team sat around a table with the team from Community Christian Church to learn how to do multi-site. This is the church that put excellence on the radar screen for churches. The excellence of their services is so high, you can't help but marvel. Yet the senior pastor felt they hadn't yet grown up.
It reminds me of the realization I came to a couple of years ago. I would often talk about multiplying our church somewhere out there in the future. This is a high biblical value. What were we waiting for? Well, we needed to be fully staffed. We had a lot to learn. We hadn't figured it out yet. Sure, we would multiply...when we grew up.
Excellence is important. But sometimes it gets in the way of ministry. Yes, it's not excellence per se; it's perfectionism that gets in the way. But most of us can't really tell the difference. I know I had a blind spot on this and I saw it in one of the churches that came to the Hitchhiker's weekend. Several of them were struggling with how they could keep their value of excellence and multiply at the same time. That's not a bad desire or question, but as they talked I suspected something more than excellence driving their questions.
Reality is that if you multiply you have to give up your dreams of rock stardom in the kingdom. You have to hold things more lightly. You can't have a superstar band at every location or church plant. You have to believe that God can work through less than professional musicians and vocalists and teachers.
You can wait until you've got it together. You can wait for that day your services run like clockwork and you have a multi-million dollar monthly budget so that you can launch a new site with a paid band and full staff of pastors. But how many churches ever reach that level of "stardom?" There are a handful in the Twin Cities. If you wait for that day, 99 times out of a 100, it won't come!
That pastor (one of my heroes) got over his perspective, and their church multiplied several times and their sites are achieving excellence (in the good way we all should). But as long as we persist on perfectionism (on "getting it right"), it's like having a boatload of food and refusing to feed starving children because you can't find enough fine china to serve it on.
Our world needs more healthy churches everywhere doing the work of the kingdom--demonstrating the kingdom through acts of compassion and proclaiming the message of God's grace. Something is deeply wrong when we fail to do so because we can't afford to offer it unless we serve it on fine china or with the perfect ambiance.