Although we launched Southlands Fullerton visibly about a year ago, we are essentially 2 years into our multiple community journey. God has established the work of our hands relatively quickly. It has been hard work all around, but the Lord has been very kind to us. We find ourselves asking "Where and when next, Lord?" These are valid and exciting questions to explore. However, it is also vital that we remind ourselves of the 'why' of "one church, multiple communities." Why did we do it in the first place and why should we carry on? I want to remind us of 5 reason why.
1) An inheritance in the Southland.
God spoke prophetically to the church through Jesse Mason in the 80's about having an inheritance in the whole region of the Southland, not just Walnut Valley. The Southland is a broad geographical term for the Greater Los Angeles Area. It is the second-largest urban region in the United States, encompassing five counties in the southern part of the California, extending from Ventura County in the west to San Bernardino County and Riverside County on the east, with Los Angeles County and Orange County in the center. This resonated so deeply with Chris Wienand when he took the leadership of the church in 1996, that he changed the name of the church from Christian Chapel to Southlands Church International - a church with an inheritance both in the Southland and in the Nations. The bottom line is, there are millions of people in the Southland who desperately need Jesus.
2) Dwelling in Diversity
As Nick Saltas has often said, the Southland is not a melting-pot, it's a TV-dinner. With over 50 cities, each one proud of its own distinct history and identity, we sensed that we would need to be willing to dwell among a diverse people in order to reach them, rather than expect them all to come to us. When John 1 tells us that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, we understand that He left the comfort of his home in heaven, landing firmly in a particular town, with a particular culture, learning a particular language and trade. He calls us as His body to do the same. Multiple communities enable us to flesh out the timeless message of Jesus in timely ways that suit a distinct context.
3) Together we can do more
While we remain committed to planting autonomous churches, "one church,multiple communities" enable us to share resources more economically. These shared resources include a common leadership team, creative resources, staff, ministry team, administrative system, sermon series and website. We have seen that while the sending community initially does the resourcing, the new community begins to become it's own resource as it grows in strength and new lessons about mission. It is a renewing resource to the sending community. Above and beyond this, we believe that God brings his commanded blessing on brothers who dwell in unity in a way that is greater than the sum of its parts.'
4) A Common DNA
We are invested in building unity between different local churches in our region, honoring the diverse expressions of the Body of Christ, while at the same time carrying a conviction that there is a great need for more Gospel-centered, Spirit-empowerd communities on mission in the cities of the Southland.
5) Engaging the Priesthood.
God has entrusted us with a wealth of gifted ministers and leaders at Southlands. Multiple communities present opportunities for new people to serve and lead in new ways. In short,
we see multiplication as a most effective way of engaging the priesthood of all believers and of countering a consumer-culture - galvanizing all of God's people to live in community on mission together, whether they go or stay. Multiple communities also afford us an opportunity to risk with less experienced leaders than would an autonomous church plant.
Let's remember the 'why' as we ask God for the when and the where!