From Franchise to Local Dive

11.12.19 | New Faith Expressions, Congregational Development | by Erik Alsgaard

     "From Franchise to Local Dive"  -- from a workshop presented Nov. 8, 2019, by Jason Moore. Sponsored by the BWC's Office of Congregational Development.

    “In today’s culture, we’ve relied so much on what we’ve done in the past that it isn’t working well anymore,” said Jason Moore. He was in the BWC in early November to offer recipes (strategies) for making your church not only relevant in your community, but to help it resonate with people in your neighborhood.

    Too many of our churches are operating as franchises, said Jason Moore. They’ve become bland, boring, outdated and not relevant to the community in which they reside.

    To fix that – to move from a franchise to a local dive (a place that is relevant, well-known in the community, meeting the needs of its people) – takes work and some serious introspection and analysis.

    How do we shift our mentality from franchise to local dive; from McDonalds to Pepperjacks? Local dives have a special quality, Moore said. “They might not be famous, but there’s a culture there.” Local churches should want this “local culture” so that they resonate with people in their community.

    Moore offered the biblical example of Nehemiah 8:1-4; 6, 8-12 – rebuilding the wall. Ezra re-interprets the law and the people wept because they were hungry for it. In other words, they had not been fed in a long time.

    Five recipes for moving from franchise to local dive

    First, assess the need (know your why). When you know your why, your “what” improves. If you don’t know your why, you will crash and burn before you even get started, Moore said.

    Reflection Questions – If you’re starting something new, or revitalizing something old, do you know your why? Are you attempting to live outside of your why? What should be in your playbook? 

    Second, assess the relationship between old and new.  Moore said that examining this relationship is critical to success; clarity is a must. Start by examining the “Franchise to Dive continuum – from ‘uniform’ to ‘autonomous’ – with ‘interdependent’ in the middle.” 

    1. The more local dive you are, the more autonomy you have
    2. The more franchise you are, the more uniformity you have

    It’s important, too, Moore said, to be clear about your target audience and to staff the “new thing” for this target audience. What is going to be your worship style? How are you going to have accountability between the new and the old? If you’re creating something new, you need to have people on the board who are part of the new, Moore said.

    The student ministry/kid’s ministry related to your new thing deserves and need a lot of attention. This matters as much or more than what you do with the adults, Moore said. What curriculum are you going to use? Is your existing youth leader going to be the leader for both things?

    Reflection questions: What are some of the non-negotiables that your local dive must include in its recipe? How much autonomy is to be given? 

    Third, find your local flavor. To do that, Moore said, you have to “exegete your culture.” And you do that by building relationships in the community in meaningful ways, he said, getting out in the neighborhood and learning what needs it has and what makes it tick. What are the greatest strengths of this community? What are the greatest needs? What are the opportunities?

    Moore offered these reflection questions: Do your leaders have a local connection? If not, can they learn to love the area? What “third spaces” are available?

    Fourth, determine your dive. In other words, what are you going to serve? What do you want to serve? What kind of spiritual food do you want to serve? But be careful, Moore said; we are often cooking our “new recipe” with too many ingredients from the old one. “We think that adding new spices will change it,” he said, “but it won’t.”

    Moore suggested the “new thing” or “new recipe” have a clear vision statement. “Sometimes we chase after relevance and chase what the culture is all about,” he said. “But what about resonating with the community?”

    Reflection questions: What role does diversity play in your staffing? How can you re-imagine/reconfigure your space to facilitate community? How can you bring the sacred into the ordinary? How can you bring the ordinary into the sacred? Can your church live outside the standard “traditional” “contemporary” and “blended” labels?

    And last, make a winning recipe. There are five essential ingredients to take and make your own recipe, Moore said.

    1. Worship – you have to create worship worth coming to. You can’t create new worship with too many ingredients from the “old” worship. Make sure the music resonates with those you want to We’re called to create action-oriented worship. Build bridges between what happed in your community and world.
    2. Guest readiness – the service/hospitality also must be good. Be relational, not transactional; and avoid unspoken rituals and insider language, like acronyms and church jargon .
    3. Community Building
    4. Creating a Discipleship Pathway – people want to know what’s next
    5. Mission – what is your local dive going to be really good at?

    Watch a video introduction of Moore’s new book, “From Franchise to Local Dive.”