One Church, Multiple Locations?

by Dr. Matt Powell

There are many churches here in our Houston area and even here in our immediate West Houston neighborhood. Although many, there are still not enough. There are two primary distinguishing factors among our churches, theological distinctions and ministry philosophy distinctions.

Where there is theological/doctrinal unity amidst churches, distinctions then exist within the way each church approaches its unique pursuit of making disciples. One phrase that has emerged in recent years to describe this pursuit among churches is the phrase “One Church, Multiple Locations”.

This is a tag line used to communicate a church’s commitment to remain unified in vision, mission, and values while gathering in multiple locations (sometimes referred to as campuses). Sometimes these churches are all led by one preaching pastor via video, while other times the majority of the sermons are given by a unique campus pastor. These churches are making disciples and changing lives in amazing ways. My goal is not to critique that strategy for ministry but rather to define our distinctive difference from them so that we, as a body, can grow in unity in this journey together.

We at Crossings have committed ourselves to a simple approach to ministry. Being a “Simple Church” is a category written about broadly in ministry. Sometimes this terminology is only used to speak of a value for small group ministry. It is a term used to describe churches that have committed themselves toward a singular path of discipleship, like small groups, in comparison to the shotgun style approach to ministry events. Although it does that for us, it also goes much farther. Our simple ministry strategy leads to a laser focus in everything that we do whether we are talking about small group ministry, men’s or women’s ministry, children’s and family ministry, or global and local missions.

Our vision statement always expressed our desire to see the growth of God’s kingdom through church multiplication. Since day one, that vision statement proclaimed: “we see a missional church that announces the kingdom of God through church multiplication. We dream of churches being planted and supported locally, nationally, and internationally.” This means that with the resources that God provides His church at Crossings we will simply pursue church planting above any other strategy of multiplication.

This vision is for a singular and unique church body called Crossings Community Church striving to multiply other unique church bodies locally, nationally, and internationally. This is a hefty vision God has given because it demands the equipping of leaders to preach and shepherd those unique churches. It is a hefty vision because it demands a specific strategy of financial stewardship to support the planting of these unique and autonomous churches. Yet amidst that hefty vision is the culmination of our excitement as His church called to plant churches.

We are not looking to celebrate various meeting locations of people under the name, preaching, and shepherding of Crossings Community Church. However, we do strive continuously to celebrate seeing contextual expressions of faith birthed locally, nationally, and internationally that bear the unique flavor of the called leaders and cultures they are called to gospelize.

Where growth today has come to be understood as not only how many people but also how many locations a church may establish, we are committed to a different kind of growth: the birth of hundreds if not thousands of unique, autonomous churches who will have no obvious affiliation with Crossings aside from (often behind the scenes) strenuous and focused equipping and support.

Therefore, instead of being “One Church of Multiple Locations” it is our dream to be “One Church of One Location Planting Thousands of Churches.” That may not follow the exact tide of ministry we see developing in our western context, but it is the vision that God has given us and we are committed to walking in it faithfully and sacrificially.

We continue to celebrate being a part of training church planters in regions across the globe. We have celebrated being a supporting and equipping church to new plants in our own city. We are celebrating now sending out our first church plant from within Crossings and loving every moment of equipping and supporting as that journey leading to launch will culminate in the coming months.

A biblical vision for ministry can manifest in many different ways. Amidst that diversity this is the vision that God has given Crossings and this is the vision we have been committed to for our twelve year history.

ONE CHURCH PLANTING THOUSANDS OF CHURCHES! May it be for His great glory…

Matt Powell serves as teaching pastor at Crossings Community Church, a body of believers whose mission is to engage, equip, and empower homes for gospel transformation in Katy, TX. You can read more on his blog.


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