It’s Not (Just) About the Model

My last few posts have dealt in depth with multi-site models. First I shared how we do it at Redemption, then I argued that our model is stronger than video multi-site, and finally I offered some advantages that video multi-site has.

Throughout those posts, there was a lot of discussion about models. How things are done. Systems, structures, etc.

Models matter. Each model has inherent strengths and weaknesses.

But models aren’t everything. Culture is much more important.


You see, Redemption Church isn’t thriving primarily because of our model, as strong as I think the model is. So in this post I want to share the fuel — the culture — that allows our model to work.

1. We take God seriously, but not ourselves.

This is a phrase you hear quite a bit among the leadership. And it’s not just wishful thinking or an aspiration. It’s actually lived out. Our pastors and elders at every congregation are serious about God. They love him, read his word, pray, fast, repent, and strive to know him. But they don’t take themselves very seriously. They make fun of themselves and each other. They laugh. A lot.

As a result, there’s not striving or jockeying for position or attention — rather, there’s humility.

2. We have strong relationships among leadership.

The model of multi-congregational church only works when the leaders have strong relationships. With relationship comes trust and this trust enables us to work together in unity while celebrating the differences that each leader and congregation has.

Our leaders like being together. They are friends. They believe the best about each other.

I can’t imagine doing ministry in an environment without these kinds of relationships.

3. We really believe the gospel (most of the time).

That may sound pretentious to say “We really believe the gospel” as if other people don’t. That’s not my point.

The gospel is hard to believe. It’s especially hard to believe at a functional level when temptations for power, security, control, and approval lurk nearby.

Through the gospel, we have nothing to prove and nobody to impress.

I think our church is healthy and strong because we have many pastors and people who are doing the hard heart-work of believing this good news. As a result, we’re free to celebrate one other, love one another, rejoice with one another, and care for one another.

4. We value the little guy.

Because of the things above, we really esteem the little guy. We are thrilled to invest in people and places that are often overlooked or forgotten.

This is why we can have congregations of various size with leaders of various giftedness without jealousy, unhealthy competition, or infighting. In our leadership, the pastors of congregations over 1,000 people genuinely love and appreciate the pastors of congregations under 200 people (and vice versa). I love that.

5. We develop leaders and give them opportunities to lead.

One time I heard John Bryson say that he often has churches come to him and ask where they can find young, godly, mature, gifted, courageous leaders for their churches. His response: “They’re out there with Bigfoot, the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.” He said that everyone wants these leaders but few people make them.

We are committed to making them.

We train leaders formally and informally. I think it flows out of our commitment to disciple-making and also out of the freedom from needing to build your own kingdom. If you’re trying to build your brand or your name, you won’t develop leaders. Or you’ll do it only for them to serve you. Some of our greatest joys are when we’ve sent out a young leader who we’ve had a chance to develop and grow.

I could do a long post on the things we could improve. My point is not to toot our own horn as much as it is that culture trumps model all the time. As Peter Drucker has said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Now, strategy and model can reinforce or undermine your culture, but the core of what has made our ministry a blessing to be part of is this culture.

Thank you, Jesus.

Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

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