Church Restarts & Live Teaching in an Urban Multisite Context with Mark Jobe

Welcome back for another episode of the unSeminary podcast. I’m excited to have Mark Jobe from New Life Chicago with us today. New Life is an amazing church with 25 locations and 43 worship services. It is not only multisite, but also multicultural.

Mark is talking with us today about how to keep so many different locations on the same page while reaching different communities and also about rebirthing churches.

  • Pursue a clear vision. // What you’ll find when you visit one of New Life’s sites depends on which location you visit. The campuses range in size from 100 to 1500 people, and also vary in the style of services each location has, from loud music and dancing to quiet services, depending on the community and culture that is being served. New Life brings that diverse multicultural and multilingual element together by finding a common clear vision that all locations pursue together. Define the reality and God given mission that all of your locations are called to do and pursue it as one.
  • Building a strong community. // In order to keep the New Life staff like a family, each of the pastors from the twenty-five locations meet every Monday. Twice a month they all come together in the same place and twice a month they break up into coaching groups of about 5 each led by a seasoned pastor. During these meetings you hear a lot of laughter and prayer. Building that fellowship and community is the strong foundation in creating a diverse multisite church that knows each other and works together.
  • Allow for customization. // New Life uses live teaching in all of their services that are both woven together so that there is a common focus, and yet customized to each location. At first, Mark prepared all of the outlines for the live teaching, but over time began to tap into the giftedness of the other pastors, and so messages were prepped as a group. When the group grew larger, sermon prep began to take up too much of the meeting time, so now message outlines are prepared in subgroups by pastors that have giftedness with sermon development. To keep the campuses aligned, the pastors plan out the entire year’s sermon series together. Then each series is assigned to a different subgroup and each group works on their series, creating the outlines and working with the communications director to plan the graphics and videos. All the pastors will then give input on sermon prep. There are no manuscripts to follow word-for-word and you don’t have to deliver your sermon the same way someone else delivers theirs. The emphasis and flow of the sermon is the same, but the delivery and style is contextualized to the community that each campus is trying to reach.
  • Church restarts begin with trust. // Out of the 25 locations at New Life, 14 of them are restarts. Church restarts are hard for both groups involved. When you first sit down with the group from the church, keep mind that it’s not really about strategy but about trust. It’s easy to get into the mechanics and what it all will look like, but that first meeting needs to be about showing this, usually elderly, congregation who you are and what you believe and where your heart is. Don’t come in with an attitude of “You failed, you blew it.” Honor their past and their legacy, and build from that. Show them that they can trust you to celebrate their history.
  • Don’t look at it as a land grab. // If you think of a restart opportunity as a way to save yourself $3 million and that you are getting free land, it makes it tempting to manipulate and force the merger to happen. Make the process a kingdom win for all of those involved. It will be difficult, but the most important thing is that the congregation knows they can trust you and that they invite you in rather than you forcing their hands. Ask yourself, “How would I want my grandmother to be treated if she was a part of this congregation?”

You can learn more about New Life Chicago at their website You can also learn more about church restarts and find helpful downloads at

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Lightning Round

Ministries Following // Alan Platt and Doxa Deo in South Africa, Commission and Guy Miller in the UK

Influential Book // Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Inspiring Leader // Billy Graham

What you do for fun // Travel with wife, time with family

Contact // or download the app

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.