Evaluating Church Multiplication vs Church Growth | Patrick O’Connell of NewThing Network

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Patrick O’Connell with NewThing Network discusses the difference between multiplying churches and church growth.

Podcast Transcription


Jason Hamrock: In this episode, I’m talking with Patrick O’Connell. Now, Patrick works for New Thing Network. New Thing Network was birthed out of Community Christian Church in Illinois, Dave Ferguson’s church, and this organization is incredible. They work with churches all over the globe, and they help network churches together, and so it’s pretty fascinating what Patrick has to say. We’re actually talking about a lot of different things, but one of the things that are going to stand out that you’re going to really appreciate, is the difference between multiplying churches versus church growth. And it’s fascinating, you’re going to love this. Enjoy.

Jason Hamrock: Well, hey, Patrick, thanks for joining us today. Glad to have you on the podcast.

Patrick O’Connell: Glad to be here, Jason. Thanks for inviting me.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. So you’re with New Thing Network. So, talk to me a little bit about New Thing, what you do for them, how they got started, and what you guys been up to.

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, I’m the Global Director, and New Thing is about 15 years old. It began with Community Christian Church in Chicagoland, where Dave and John Ferguson, Dave is our lead pastor, but Dave and John started the church about 30 years ago. And they started the church with this idea of being a multiplying church at some point, and of course, the first iteration of that was multisite. And then we began, the community began to plant churches. And that initial kind of origin of New Thing was as people left the community to go plant churches, it was kind of the question, how do we stay in network with one another? And we realized through the life of New Thing that relationships are really important, and so they’re really at the core of what we’re doing, and I can certainly explain that a little bit if you’re interested.

Patrick O’Connell: But the idea is, since that small kind of organic community here in Chicagoland, New Thing continues to grow. We are in about 40 countries right now, and working with leaders all over the world to catalyze movements of reproducing churches, that’s what we do. We are not at denomination, we’re not even churches aligned around theology, we are kind of classic orthodox, evangelical. But what we try to do is paint this picture of being friends on a mission. And so if you and I are friends and we’re on the mission of Jesus together, we’re absolutely for each other, we want to see each other win, we want to see each other thrive. And so we do our best to keep it about friends on mission, and moving the mission of God forward, primarily through church planting.

Jason Hamrock: Ok,so tell me a little bit, like what’s the difference between church multiplication versus church growth?

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, that’s the classic question, isn’t it, Jason? And so neither, I don’t see, I don’t see either of them existing without the other. But let me just say, that church growth has really been the mantra of the church in the West, and that is how do we create an environment where more people come and experience the gospel, experience community, experience what it looks like to live life on mission with Jesus. And the idea is, let’s do that bigger, better and faster, as we all do in the West. Right? But there’s another very, very important part of the mission of Jesus in the world, and that is multiplication. And so if you think about the gospels as you think about what Jesus actually says to his followers, if you look at the first church. What you have there, is a very small group of people, discipling other groups of small groups of people, and that leading to more and more movement. So Jesus didn’t ask us to plant churches, he asked us to make disciples. And so church growth as a result, I hope, of really good discipleship.

Patrick O’Connell: The challenge we have is when we do it in reverse, and that’s maybe some of the challenge we see in the North American context in the West. And you don’t know me well enough, I’m not being a naysayer on anything, I’m not a critic of anything because God uses at all. But I am saying that in in the Western context, and because I get to wear my global hat a bit, what I see us doing is generally, or have in the past, gone with the high growth mentality. Where if we’re going to see the church thrive, we need to also focus on multiplication. And so New Thing focuses in this space of helping churches create cultures of multiplication, so that as a result, more churches are planted.

Jason Hamrock: Well, so let’s go into there, how can a church move towards multiplication, here in the US?

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, I think it’s really about adopting this posture, where we are a sent people. It’s really beginning with kind of our heart for Jesus, where are we with Jesus? And the goal of a church is not just to collect and gather, the goal of a church is to collect and gather to scatter. I mean, we are to plant seeds of the gospel to the nations, right, it’s the big picture. And when a church spends a lot of time, and energy, and resources only gathering, gathering, gathering, gathering, it’s like it’s misfiring on the whole mission.

Patrick O’Connell: The analogy I used to use, or I do use, I was in the military and the military is a great organization. And I’m not not suggesting that the church be like the military in any sense, but this is just an illustration. What the military does is a great job of taking people and training them for a mission. And so when you graduate from basic training, from your equipping stage in the military, you know exactly what your mission is, you know exactly you’re gifting, and you’re exactly equipped to do that. And it’s similar, I think it needs to be similar in the church. And so multiplication, then what we do is we suggest that multiplication in a church needs to begin to happen at every level, every single level. So hospitality leaders must be multiplied, children’s workers must be multiplied, small group leaders must be multiplied, lead pastors must be multiplied. And so we, at New Thing, we focus on this idea where we are going to build cultures where multiplication is not only taught, but caught. And it’s celebrated, so that it becomes in the air of the local church. Because unless the church is multiplying, our suggestion is that it’s not thriving, it’s not being all that it can be.

Jason Hamrock: Hmm. So what would you say to a church then that’s thinking about planting? So they’re thinking about planting a church, and I guess it doesn’t matter, you can probably speak into this…You don’t have to, maybe you do, you don’t have to get to a certain size in terms of people, or budgets, or even locations. But what would you say to a church that’s going, oh, yeah, we probably should take this pretty seriously. How do we go beyond ourselves and plant a church? Like what does that look like?

Patrick O’Connell: That’s a great question. I mean, first of all, spend lots of time in prayer and fasting and make sure it’s something that God has called you to do. Right? Number two is look at the life of Jesus, and Jesus pours into the few to reach the many. Number three is, I suggest that if you want to know if you are really, if your church is working, quote unquote, try to plant the church. You will know if you are evangelizing, you will know if you are discipling, you will know if people are on a mission or not, when you try to plant the church. So to your question, I think it’s okay for any church to start small, start with small. So we would suggest if you were a church planter, Jason, and you were you were working with one of our networks, we might suggest that the first thing you do is launch a small community of people in your living room, just begin to prayer, and worship, and read scripture together. And then as that group grew, maybe you would step into a local school auditorium and begin to meet there. And then once you’ve got one service underway, maybe you reproduce a second service in a short period of time. Once you’re doing that, then you maybe multiply out a new location, it’s building on the small. I often suggest to church leaders that if you can show me a leader who has started a small group, and where 50 percent of those people in that small group have found their way back to God in that group, that leader can lead at any scale. It’s just about scale, to your point, it’s not about bigger or better. You don’t need the building, you don’t need the fog machines, per say, those are all nice to have and, you know, there’s a there’s a place for all that. But if you, it’s about scaling, and I think what I would challenge my friends in North America to think about is, what am I doing as a church leader to equip the people in my church to go out and scatter seeds of the gospel, to start new things, so to speak?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, that’s interesting, because when I think about most churches here, they and if you stop and step back, if the church is growing, there’s a reason. They probably have a really good lead pastor who can deliver a great message, they’ve got a good children’s ministry, they probably are very friendly, they got a great welcoming team. Know it’s just a good vibe going on. And then I think the mentality would then be, well, let’s reproduce this, so let’s go add another campus, another campus, another campus, another campus, and get this preacher’s word out in those other campuses. Right. Which isn’t a bad thing, but what you’re saying is, no, no, no, no, you kind of need to do, maybe do both. You’ve got to, you can do that if you’re called to do that, but you should be sending people to go plant and build over there as well. Is that something, is that kind of the idea, or do you feel like in North America we tend to lean more on reproducing campuses of our church?

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, I mean, what you’ve said it very, very well, and again, in the effort to say that everything that the local church is doing is great, I’m a huge fan of the local church, so there’s there’s no bad churches in my vernacular. What I think to suggest to the illustration that you painted there, Jason, is is we have a mission, though, in the church. And the mission is not just to gather and celebrate us, Jesus said go, go into the nations to proclaim the good news of the gospel. And however a church is engaged in that missional effort is okay in my book. I will suggest, though, that the best way to reach new people is with new works, new gospel communities, new churches being planted. And so the other point that you brought up that I could speak to, is I think like any missionary in any culture, we in the North American context need to consider ourselves as missionaries, we need to [inaudible] the culture. And what we have in America, what we have in North America, is a culture that tends to be individualistic. How does this help me? How does this help my family? What does this do for me? And that’s fine, it’s a fair place to start. And then we also have consumeristic culture, and so the vernacular of church shopping, you don’t hear that too much in the rest of the world, but in the US, we hear that all the time. And so I think the, as you said, the intentions are always right. I mean, the intentions, there’s no pastor that woke up this morning and is doing it for the money, and the fame, and the fortune. Right?

Jason Hamrock: I hope not.

Patrick O’Connell: Right, let’s talk to them if they are. They’re doing it because God’s called them and they love Jesus, and they want to see more people come to know the Lord. But I think what we do, and some of my global friends suggest this very gently towards the American church, is we settle for good things and miss the great things. And the great things are gospel movements, are discipleship movements, are movements of reproducing churches that are exploding, and we’ve seen this in North American history, in church history.

Patrick O’Connell: If you go back and look at Methodism, Methodism was a movement, it was a frontier movement, that absolutely exploded in the United States in the in the late 18th and early 19th century. But then what happened is that movement became stagnant, and this is some of my Methodist friends have told me this, and helped me understand this, because they tended to focus on the growth and the institutional aspects of the movement rather than letting it go. So I would say those are some of our, those are some of the things that we try to keep front and center at New Thing, when we talk about the mission of Jesus and the multiplication of his movement.

Jason Hamrock: So you get to do something that the rest of us really don’t get an opportunity to do, and that is, you’re talking with churches all around the globe.

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, it’s a privilege and an honor, and I’m humbled by it.

Patrick O’Connell: So what are those conversations, what’s being talked about these days around the globe?

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, I think, oh gosh, that’s a good question, let me keep it short and sweet for you. Covid has presented incredible challenges, I don’t want to miss that, and I want to lament with a lot of leaders across the world who’ve had a really hard time with it. But I’ve been on calls with pastors who have been in tears about it, just not knowing what to do, what’s going to happen to their church, not having the tools, not having the digital presence. I mean, I’ve been in every kind of conversation, so innumerable challenges with Covid. But it’s also the greatest opportunity that any of us will ever live through, and here’s why I say that. The whole globe, speaking of the global church, is going through the same crisis, that’s never happened before, that’s never happened. For you might suggest maybe a World War could have been like that, but the global church has never gone through a crisis like this together. I can talk to a leader in Kenya and hear the same challenges of from them about leading in Covid, as I do have somebody in Phoenix, Arizona, doesn’t matter. So we’re all going through the same storm, but we’re going through it in different boats, that’s the way that we’ve been talking about it. So imagine we’re all on the sea and it’s all raging in the waves are, and there’s more storm clouds ahead, because we don’t know what’s going to happen. And you’re in your boat and I’m in my boat, let’s help each other, let’s call out to each other, let’s tie up, and let’s get a little bit closer.

Patrick O’Connell: So I’ve actually seen leaders much more open to reimagining what the church is, the expression of the church. I’ve spoken to some church leaders in Europe who say, hey, we are going to take the emphasis off Sunday morning so that we can multiply disciples. And I’m like, wow, tell me more about that, like, it’s so radical to think about that. But if you’re a leader in Birmingham, England, you are leading in a post-Christian post-modern, covid context. If you are not willing to reimagine and shift your paradigms, you’re going to be guilty of insanity, of trying to do the same thing to achieve different results. And so I would say to your question, Jason, that the global church is open like never before to a conversation about how do we actually realize kind of the First Corinthians 12, or Ephesians 4, or John 17 idea of unity. About working together, about being friends on mission, about helping each other, and that has been so extraordinary, it’s complex. But this idea that we are the body of Christ, yes, diverse, yes, must express ourselves contextually. What works in Arizona, doesn’t work in Chicago, doesn’t necessarily work in Uganda. However, there are principles of the gospel, and about gospel multiplication that we can learn from each other. And so, it’s a spirit of togetherness that I’ve been picking up from the church around the world.

Jason Hamrock: That’s encouraging, first and foremost, that’s super encouraging. Because we are all on the same team, and we have one mission and He gave us that mission. How we go about doing that, to your point, is going to be different depending on where you are on this planet. And the other thing that I kind of wonder about is, you know, we’re still in this pandemic. We’re, lord willing, we’re coming out of this pandemic. But that means that things are going to, things have changed, and things are going to continue to change. And so I kind of wonder, what does that look like? How do we do church after this? Whatever this is, define this, and whatever that looks like, the new reality. I hear that word, there’s a new reality, it’s still undefined. But, you know, from what you’re learning, and talking to churches, and certainly at Community Christian Church. I’d be curious to know from your perspective, how will church be done? You kind of mentioned we can’t just rely on the old ways of, hey, on Sunday mornings we all gather. I mean, maybe that’s still a thing, that will probably continue to be a thing, but we’ve got to think different. And there’s different ways to connect with people outside of that, come under one building. What are you seeing, and is there a new shape or a new reality that’s starting to form?

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, that’s a great question, Jason. Number one, I think context is important here. We, how do I frame this? We’re all learning new language. My suggestion is, and my instinct is, and I’m just being prayerfully aware of what the Lord is saying to me on this too, and in my conversations with other leaders. That this is an ice age, and not just a winter. And I know that can sound rather pessimistic, but I believe things have shifted tremendously for the church. Now, one of the things we have to immediately check ourselves on is do we trust Jesus even when things shift? And we should, we should, amen, right, we should.

Patrick O’Connell: What we’ve been suggesting, and I’d be happy to get your listeners this and make sure you get a copy of it. We came up with a series of blog articles through the summer called The Five Shifts, and I’ll present them to you very quickly. And if you want to drill down to any of them, just let me know. But we’re suggesting that there are five shifts, no matter where you are in the world as a church leader, you’ve got to make.

Patrick O’Connell: Number one, you’ve got to move from criticizing to evaluating. So it used to be, we’ve figured out how to do big church, if you don’t do big church, something’s wrong with you or you’re not doing it right. That’s critical, evaluating, is big church actually making disciples of Jesus? I mean, is that really working? That’s number one, shift one.

Patrick O’Connell: Shift two, and this is right up your alley, Jason, this is where we need organizations like yours. We’re suggesting that we need to move from informing to digitizing, specifically digitalization. We’ve been using this phrase, I’m sure you’re using it too, phygital. Right? And it’s this idea of the physical and the digital together. And so as leaders, as a church leader, I now must be cognizant and somewhat aware of how people are interacting online and digitally and using social media. And it’s more than just putting my content online, it’s about how do I engage those people relationally? And I’m sure you could speak very specifically of that, but we think that’s really, really important.

Patrick O’Connell: I heard a really cool story about a pastor in Uganda, and she said, if you had told me, this is right when Covid started, about a month into it. She’s like, if you had told me that I would have a bunch of my leaders and parishioners from Kampala, Uganda, online doing small group 30 days ago, I would have said never, never, never would that work. And here she is doing these WhatsApp groups, and having more success than ever she could imagine digitally. But she had made that shift in their head, and it’s really important. And it’s not just, oh, I got my Sunday service up online, I’m good to go. We know that’s…You could speak to that.

Patrick O’Connell: Number three, shift number three is from collecting the mobilizing. This is to the question you asked me in the beginning, instead of just collecting Christians and putting them in ever bigger buildings, and empowering them with ever bigger light shows. Again, I’m not trying to be snarky there, I’m saying that I need to collect to mobilize the body to go back out. You will never get, an Indian leader told me this this morning, your harvest is directly related to the number of seeds you plant. And so if you’re a church leader and you’re wondering, huh, all right, I got the big building, we’ve got the four services, we’ve done the multisite. What’s next? Send them into the fields to scatter seeds, and so that’s the that’s the third shift.

Patrick O’Connell: The fourth shift, and I think the American audience is really wrestling with this one, is we need to move from competing the collaboration. Now, we don’t say we compete with each other, but churches indirectly compete with each other. We try to get the best online presence, we’ve got the bigger signs, we’ve got more frequent services, we’ve got the loudspeaker, like all that stuff. Fine, but it’s got to all be done in the spirit of collaboration. John 17, unity, the last prayer that Jesus prayed for us was that our unity would be a witness to the world. And so we need to shift this, these are all mental shifts in our head, from competing to collaboration.

Patrick O’Connell: And then the fifth and final shift is, from addition to multiplication. So I think what we have, remember I said we settle for the good things rather than the great things. I think addition is a good thing, multiplication is a great thing.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, it is.

Patrick O’Connell: And so that’s what we’re trying to do.

Jason Hamrock: Oh, wow! Well said. Yeah, for all of you out there listening in, we’ll make sure to add this to the podcast, those are phenomenal. And when I look at the part we play, I think that third point was planting seeds. There are more, you can also plant digital seeds. We call them digital seeds, right, so you’re putting stuff out there that only God, he’s going to do something with that. And that’s his job, our job is just to get the seeds out there.

Patrick O’Connell: You’ll find this, just a really quick story. I was on, we did these coaching calls for pastors when Covid broke, with our partners. We had fifteen hundred churches join these coaching calls, I was flabbergasted that we had had that much. We just hit a nerve, and that was a God thing. But I can tell you, Jason, the first few calls with some leaders, myself included, we were all wrestling with how quickly we needed to learn digital tools. Like I, one time just flat out said to one of our groups, I said, look, I know you don’t want to learn Zoom, but you got to learn it now. I know you don’t want to mess with WhatsApp, but you got to learn it now. I know that you don’t want to mess with your website, but you better find somebody that will. Because our digital presence, and I’m not just saying this because you’re on you know, this is your call. Like, we really mean this, that digital space is a field for the gospel.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah.

Patrick O’Connell: And we need to do more than just show our services on Sunday, like it’s got to be much broader. And I think the phrase, and if I’m not using it correctly, please correct me. Digitalization is the world view, where the digital environments where human beings live, are also places of community, and possible enrichment, and people are doing relationships online. And like what you and I are doing here, this is all very, very valuable for the cause of the gospel, but we need to be really great at it.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, and in a sense, it’s going to sound weird, but it’s an answer to prayer, for us. I’ve been praying for years that churches would, like the light bulb would turn on, that they go, huh, yeah, this Google things for real, we probably should figure it out, you know. And there is..

Patrick O’Connell: The a long runway, Google’s around. Yes, it’s around. A

Jason Hamrock: And people are searching like never before, like just the search term on anxiety. And I tell the churches all the time, just if you were to understand how many people are are anxious, and they’re stressed, and they’re depressed, and they’re going through this stuff. And if you, they’re Googling, they’re looking for information. It’s kind of a DIY type of thing, they’re trying to, they’re trying to get fed so they can figure out, how do I overcome this thing? Churches are nowhere to be found in that space,and I’m going that’s such a huge opportunity for just a church planting of a seed, to engagement, to you know, moving the needle, if you will. And in our world, it’s all about making that digital connection so that human connection can be possible, it can happen. And it’s not going to happen overnight, and it may take a few clicks, or that kind of thing. We call that kind of a funnel conversion, we’re trying to convert people into the space where they can connect with a local church. The local church is what we want people to connect it to, not some certainly, secular organization. Nothing wrong with that, but we know that the local church is going to point them to the answer.

Patrick O’Connell: I can’t agree more. And I think it’s organizations like yours, we need this kind of leadership and platform like never before. Because we know business, education, government, all of these, all of these are online, if you will. And again, if I’m not using the right terminology, just correct me. But the church, we kind of have settled, we’ve settled for the good things. Oh, we got our service online, I’ve got an app, I’ve got a website, fine, but that’s just content and content doesn’t make a disciple. A disciple needs, that’s where relationships are so integral to this, and can we make disciples on Zoom? I don’t know. I mean, at some point we probably need to sit in coffees together. Right? But I know that you and I can have a really robust friendship and relationship on Zoom, and when we do to get to meet in person or whatever, it’s going to be even better, you know. And so I think the church, back to one of the questions you asked, I think the church has realized, and the more leaders I speak to, that they realize that this virtual space is for real, like it’s a real space. It’s not just, you know, they’re not here to hear me, so it’s not great. No, it’s a great space, it’s a really great space. And think about the ability to scale, like you said. We’ve got, at Community, we’ve got watch parties going on. We’re saying get together with a couple of your friends and watch the service together, or get together with a couple of your friends and go through some of the questions about the sermon that we put on our app. I mean, just trying to reimagine, and refresh, and rethink, how we can engage digitally has been really profound in this season.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, I mean, there’s so…We could go forever, because I’m such a believer that digital can be the the place where people can get connected. Can you disciple them there? I don’t see why not. I’m not sure who’s doing it, like to, like oh yeah, model that. But we know coming together in person is, that’s worked, but we’ve got to think differently. And to your point, we need to be digitally focused on going outward. But I also have found it kind of, this has been kind of a fun thing for our family, since I have two teenage boys. So we have watched church on Sunday, and then we have this kind of like casual conversation about it. Well, when we were going to church, they were going to the students things that we were going to big people church and then we’re done. Well, now they drive their own car, so we would never even really have a conversation about what just happened. But in the context of our family room, we’re able to watch and then turn that thing off and go, what did you learn? We just had a conversation, our pastor just talked about owning your faith versus like borrowing your faith. There’s a completely…Owning your faith, and we’re being called to own our faith. And so I look at my boys going, how are you owning your faith? And they’re going, huh. We just had a great dialogue about that, that happened because of digital, like we were able to watch. Now, the question is going to be, can then a church engage with somebody, right, back and forth. That, I mean, that’s discipling, you’ve got to figure that out. But to me, it’s like we’ve got the best and brightest, and you’re seeing this, on the planet figuring this out. Like, they weren’t really putting that much emphasis on it before Covid, now they are because they’re forced to.

Patrick O’Connell: I love this story, Jason. And I think it reminds me, what you’re challenging me even to think about, is the paradigms. We need to be open in this season, and the season has given us an opportunity to really evaluate our paradigms, and what are the sacred cows that we might be holding on to. When I was in graduate school at Eaton doing a theology degree, we had an exercise once, and it went something like this. All right, imagine you are now the leader of the Church of England, and this afternoon, you lost all of your buildings, that there are no buildings left in the Church of England. What would you do? And in a weird way, we’re living out that that case challenge. And it’s causing us, I mean, I’m wearing my New Thing hat for this conversation. I’m going to take that hat off, and I put on my Community hat right now, Community Christian Church, where Dave Ferguson is lead pastor, we have not met for in-person services since March. And because of the crisis here in Illinois, and health, we want to be safety first and all those things, we are not planning on meeting for the rest of this calendar year. And we are being forced to challenge some underlying assumptions, and shift paradigms, and think about those conversations that you and your sons had in your living room after that service. Those are just as rich and important as anything we’ve ever done, and so I think it’s a really strong, a strong illustration. And what I want to continue to challenge myself, and all of your listeners to think about is, challenging paradigms are just fine. That’s what good leadership is all about, it’s if this isn’t working, let’s find some other way to do it. And, man, this is the season to do that.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, I think God’s given us this opportunity, and to really kind of kill those sacred cows, you know? And I listen to you guys, and certainly Northpoint, they’re doing the same thing. We’re just, we’re closed until a certain date. Okay, well, don’t just let day by day go by without moving forward. Actually, think about how you re-launch, and what would that look like. And if you just re-launch the same thing you did back in February, you probably missed a huge opportunity that God gave you, you’ve squandered it. But if you re-launch in this new idea of going, how are we going to continue to thrive and multiply, and really build up disciples and send them out, that’s where we need to be focused on, and using digital as a means to doing that. Actually, I’ve talked to a couple of churches that have said, we’re trying to shift this idea that we have, we’re an online church with some physical locations. We’re going ah, maybe you’re onto something there.

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, and that’s what Community’s doing, that’s exactly how we talk. Church as a network, or we’re the church, when a family like yours meets in a space and has a conversation about Jesus, and owning your faith, that counts. And so part of this is shifting the scorecard, which used to be just about nickels and noses, right? And again, I’m not saying that those are bad. But even thinking about, okay, what is the role of marketing in this post Covid environment? Is it just about getting people into a building again? And maybe it is, but maybe it doesn’t, maybe it could be more than that. And that’s what excites me.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. So tell us a little bit, like as we wrap this up, New Thing Network, local churches here in America, how can they get connected to you guys? What is it you’re going to do to help them? And what does that even look like?

Patrick O’Connell: Yeah, http://www.newthing.org, newthing.org So if you want to find out more about us, just go to http://www.newthing.org, and we’ll follow up with you. There’s a communications card you can fill out, we’d be happy to do it. We basically help churches multiply at all levels. so we have some online cohorts going. Again, if you go to newthing.org, you can find out all about this. We also create collaborative spaces for churches to come together to do more. So I’m very much interested, and one of our specialties is, is we build networks, we start small networks. Now, for us a network is four to six churches working together. So I live in Chicagoland, we have done a lot of work to bring local churches together as friends on mission. They come from diverse theological backgrounds, diverse denominations. But we like each other, and we’re all for Jesus, and we want to make Jesus famous in our city. And so we work together in small clusters,in small networks of churches, to help each other do more around the four values of New Things. And again, New Thing Network has all of this there for you. But what we’ve found, Jason, is that one of my friends in India, he leads India Gospel League, Sam Stephens. He said, that networks are the backbone of movement. Now, the networks he was talking about are these small clusters of churches, whether they be big churches, or medium churches, or small churches, doesn’t much matter, but these churches working together. And if you go back and look at how the early church worked, one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture is Romans 16, go back and read it. It’s rather boring because Paul is just saying his farewell, or his greetings to the church in Rome. But what you find there is a church that is diverse, Gentile and Jew, men and women, big and small, they meet in houses, they meet in synagogues, they meet in the street. Like, it’s just this massive diversity. And so we at New Thing, we bring churches and leaders together to help them do more than they could on their own, in the spirit of collaboration for the Kingdom cause not for our castles.

Jason Hamrock: Wow. I’ll tell you what, you’ve really challenged us. So if you want to make Jesus famous, and you’re a Jesus follower, I suggest you get connected to New Thing. If you’re not connected to a network, now is the time.

Patrick O’Connell: Now’s the time.

Jason Hamrock: More than any, probably any history of our, you know, our country, certainly here in the US, now’s the time to be walking arm in arm. And boy, just from the standpoint of diversity, all kinds of reasons why this is such an important aspect of the church, right, and of our faith. Yeah, great. Well, Patrick, thank you very much. Very insightful, great information, and it was a pleasure having you on.

Patrick O’Connell: Thanks for having me, man, this has been a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.

Jason Hamrock: You’re welcome. All right, take care.

Patrick O’Connell: You too.

Jason Hamrock: Patrick, thank you, my friend. Oh, my goodness, we learned a ton about all that’s going on. If you want those five steps, you want to check them out, you want to learn more about that? I highly encourage you to reach out to Patrick, have a conversation with New Thing Network, these guys are on to something big. And especially in this day and age, we’re in the middle of Covid, and it’s a new day. We can’t think about doing church the same way. Old, what I call the sacred cows, have to be gone. And we have to look to the future and how we’re going to connect with people, and people far from God, far from the church, all that stuff. Patrick has some amazing insight.

Jason Hamrock: A couple of things that I think about, from our conversation, especially when it comes to the idea that you’ve got to have a digital focus strategy. And there’s a difference between just, you know, growing your church versus growing more and more churches. Right? But regardless, you really want to be focused on a digital strategy to reach people far from God. And so a couple of things to take away.

Jason Hamrock: Number one, your website, content on your website speaks volumes into what you should be doing, and how you can actually connect with people. And we talked a little bit about that, right, but that’s a big, big strategy, a big, big part of what you should be doing.

Jason Hamrock: The second thing would be then, how are you connecting with people? What is that story you’re sharing with people, and what does that look like? And so I encourage you to take some steps. One step would be connect with New Thing Network, absolutely do that. The second would be, if you want to have a conversation with us about how you can get deeper in this space. We’d love to talk with you and share some ideas and strategies that we have implemented in churches all over the country, in their online efforts to get better. Right? Phygital, you’ve been hearing that word, it’s the physical and the digital kind of combined. How do we do that? How do we navigate that? A lot of people are speaking to that, a lot of people are talking about that, and certainly we’re doing that here at Missional Marketing. And it’s a lot of fun because I think God’s on to something big through us, and it’s just fun to be a part of that. So, we’d love to talk with you. Until next time. God bless.

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