In yesterday’s post, I talked about the multi-site strategy as franchise church, and noted that Rick Warren’s Saddleback added a site in the same area as 3-4 existing local mega-churches. A commenter pointed out that Mars Hill Church of Seattle will soon be joining them all. Pastor Mark Driscoll on Twitter: “Planning @MarsHillOC campus launch. Need facility in Costa Mesa, Irvine, Tustin, or Orange. If your church needs a pastor let me know”.
FYI, the following “mega-churches” (3,000-8,000 attenders) that are already here were birthed and grew up in this area, and continue a thriving ministry – all within about a ten-mile radius:
So you see the imminent need for a Saddleback and a Mars Hill to minister to the lost in this particular locale. (Please review yesterday’s coffee franchise analogy and see if it doesn’t make even more sense now.)
Sure, there are plenty of people who still need Jesus in southern California. In Orange County. Also in Hollywood. And downtown Los Angeles. And inner-city largely Hispanic Santa Ana just across the street from Irvine/Tustin. And a lot more.
FYI, here’s what I can tell you about the Irvine/Costa Mesa/Tustin area of Orange County, CA:
Orange County in general is pretty affluent (think Newport Beach, Newport Coast).
Politically, it tends toward conservative.
Irvine is considered one of the safest cities in America to live in.
Irvine has some of the best schools.
I don’t know how a Saddleback Church (about 18 miles away) and a Mars Hill Church (about 1200 miles away) would manage to select Irvine/Costa Mesa/Tustin with its existing healthy churches – out of all southern California cities (and for Mars Hill, 49 other states) – as a location strategic to spreading the Gospel. I have to think there are still more people in Lake Forest and Seattle that need Jesus too. What about them?
So… why exactly is the multi-site strategy also multi-city? What need does Irvine have that only Mars Hill can fill? Saddleback is a known entity in Lake Forest, and Mars Hill in Seattle – why not invade every neighborhood and community there? Imagine being able to say – “we’ve reached 70% of our city with the Gospel” and in fact the whole city is worn out with “those Christians from Saddleback.” Instead, they seem intent on franchising in competitive locations, where the only real relationship they have is with already-Christians who know their name.