What surprised you most about going multi-site?
It dawned on me how different it was setting up a new work at Lee – we were not known in the area and had no history on the new patch, unlike the Catford and Downham sites. Also we were ‘hidden’ in a side road with no visible presence on main thoroughfares like the other two sites and there are some really good churches within easy walking distance of our building. I was really pleased how many good people wanted to come from the Catford site and be involved in this new venture! The pioneer spirit was there and we saw gifted people rising to the challenge - there was a huge amount of energy!
What challenged you most?
- Setting everything up from scratch. There was a real volunteer challenge – to find the right people for the tasks and ensure we were providing essential ministries and had appropriate skills available, establishing new work patterns, getting equipment and furniture. While there was initial energy and ownership to serve, I foresee a future challenge in maintaining that when we are through the honeymoon period.
- The time-scale in which it all had to be done. The period from December to March was fairly manic! We had surveyed the King’s people in November to find out who was interested in coming to the Lee site and from then on the amount of work required and the speed at which important decisions had to be made and preparatory work done was ‘full on’. Looking back, I feel it was too small a time-window and needed a longer lead-in time.
- Of course the challenges don’t end with set-up. The challenge for the next season is to push on and see something lasting established in the community. That will be more like success!
What is it like dealing with what is more a ‘planting’ situation and opening a completely new location?
This is so much easier than being a single church plant. We have all the benefits of a large church in terms of financial support and people resources – and we start with our own building! That’s a big plus when you see churches operating in facilities that have to be cleared at the end of the meeting. Nor do we have just six people in a small group – or 25 in a school hall. We began with 150 people who knew what we were about. We are already seeing visitors, week by week, too. However, because we are a smaller context than the Catford Hill site, I believe we can develop a greater relational feel and while retaining the strengths of the wider King’s ethos and culture, we can bring colour and depth to our community.
Whatever happens I don’t want us to be doing the same things this time next year. I want those of us at Lee to use our gifts to change a community and to broaden and deepen what we are currently doing. I want us to be authentic, making a difference, and in reaching the people of our area I want to see space for creativity and the arts, reaching those in the area who have not yet heard of us – or the love of God. Our fantastic building lends itself to such things! This is part of setting the unique culture of the Lee site – for the glory of God and to reach people for Jesus.