Thanks for joining us for this week’s unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Tommie Bozich, the executive pastor of Trinity Church, a multisite church with locations in Virginia and also internationally. Tommie is talking with us about what led them to launch a location in Stuttgart, Germany, and what a church should think about when considering an international campus.
- Problems and opportunities. // As Trinity began their multisite journey, they realized that with the help of video teaching, they could take sermon messages anywhere. They already had a few campuses in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area, which has a huge military population. When some church members who had been transferred to Stuttgart, Germany lamented at the difficulty of finding an English-speaking church overseas, Trinity realized the opportunity to launch a campus serving the military and English-speaking community abroad.
- Church plant vs church campus. // Launching a church campus is very different from planting a church and when Tommie went to Germany with his family, they were sent with the mindset that this international campus is part of Trinity. Trinity did not want to start up this campus and then check back months later, but there were still challenges with the distance that made this campus feel separate.
- Thank God for the resources. // As the Stuttgart campus pastor, Tommie and his team had to rely heavily on video and remote meetings before that was widely popular. It can be easy to become resentful and feel left out when you’re so far away. But rather cultivate humility and thank God for all that you can do with the resources you have. Embrace being uncomfortable.
- Find family. // An incredible family is created when you connect with other English-speaking believers in a foreign country. It teaches us a great deal of humility and breaks down many of the dividing walls that exist back in the USA. Everyone is looking for community, especially those who are moving to a new country and don’t know anyone around them. Tommie found that people who were not followers of Jesus came to the church so that they could find community and then were saved through that experience.
- Love goes a long way. // The church in Germany started out primarily with American families living there, a lot of them military. But soon German friends and neighbors were invited and started attending, and they loved it. Love transcends a lot of boundaries and brings people together.
- Identify similarities between locations. // Decide what elements of your international campus you want to be the same as your other campuses. At Trinity’s Stuttgart location, they had similar worship styles and branding, and were on the same sermon series. Make sure your central staff thinks about how teaching and kids content will translate in another context. Accept that some things won’t translate and incorporate the elements that will.
- Reliance on God. // When Tommie and his family moved to Germany to help launch the campus, it forced him to rely heavily on prayer for everything. Nondenominational churches in Germany were practically nonexistent and God had to open the doors for the church to find a place to meet. As you lean on God in prayer, He will show up in ways you never would have expected.
- More than one. // When sending people into foreign places to launch a campus, be sure to send them in at least a pair so they can work together. Their families can keep each other company and help each other through this new environment and life.
- Mission over method. // Have a decent amount of flexibility both in the personalities of the people starting this new location and the church’s ability to allow them to minister in their context. The mission always has to be more important than the method. How do you need to shift the method to accomplish the mission?
- Think outside the box. // Consider the possibilities of what can be done with technology and sending people out. Trinity now knows that they can equip a believer who’s in the military and going overseas to be a light for Christ and create community. This doesn’t always look like launching a campus, but it could be providing resources for a person to lead a small group and invite others to participate in church online in their home.
You can learn more about Trinity Church at www.trinitychurchvb.com.
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