What Church Leaders Must Know About Going Multi-Site

For churches with plans to go multi-site, navigating what should be unique about each campus and what needs to be consistent can be tricky. Because no matter the number of campuses your church has or plans to have, multiplication is the goal – multiplying believers, ministries, groups and churches.

So if you are considering going multi-site, it’s important to stay focused on multiplying the mission of God – and not just your brand of church or the reach of one person.

So how can churches successfully expand their reach?

Strategy.

This is what is at the heart of planning for multi-site success: If you don’t have a plan, multi-site won’t work. Churches who experience rapid growth – and who maintain that growth – place a premium on intentional and strategic leadership. And strategic leaders understand that what they do has eternal significance. Church leaders have been entrusted with the spiritual care of many and to steward that carefully, they must consider strategy an important facet of their pastoral responsibility.

Leadership Development.

Multi-site ministry is about multiplying the reach of one church; it’s about one church meeting in different locations. If multiplication is the goal, then church leaders should keep developing new leaders at the center of what they do. That’s not just staff leadership but volunteer leadership, too.

Central Services.

This is one of the strongest arguments for multi-site campus development: The ability to share leadership and resources is the best stewardship decision churches can make.

And with your three key ingredients for a successful venture into multi-site now identified and defined, you’ll need to consider your church’s financial health and the ‘stories’ your numbers tell you in an effort to make your multi-site campus become self-sufficient in the shortest time possible.

Because starting a new campus is tough. Sustaining an existing campus is even tougher. But nothing compares to trying to keep a campus afloat when it becomes a big drain on the operational budget. It can really erode the excitement around your multi-site ministry.

Excitement can very quickly evolve into fear and worry as you infuse more money into your expansion campuses than you may have anticipated or budgeted, causing it to become an enormous cash burden.

So you should (and can!) understand the financial needs of what it will take to have a successful multi-site ministry before you make the leap. Here are a few tips to help your multi-site campus become self-sufficient as quickly as possible:

Buy nothing!

Buildings are short-term solutions with long-term consequences. Figure out the balance between what you need and what you need right now. The building you can afford to buy now will be too small in a few years, and you won’t be able to get the majority of that money back.

Find existing spaces that don’t need a lot of work.

These spaces typically have a good number of resources available such as seating, a stage, lighting, and audio/visual equipment in the auditorium. Not only can this offer incredible savings, but it puts you directly in touch with the families in the community.

Don’t just rent space from them – invest in them. Engage the parents in painting projects at the school, putting coats on needy kids, and making sure that hungry children are fed at lunch.

Once the campus has reached its full growth potential in attendance and giving, you can start to look at the next steps.

Meet in another church or rent a ‘timeshare’ space.

This is a great option that few churches consider. There are so many churches out there that hold only one service. Let them do their service at nine, and pay them for letting you do your service at 11.

Lease improvements/retrofits and purchasing are two very expensive options. Renting a ‘timeshare’ space can save your campus a ton of money, and help your campus get to self-sufficiency faster.

Include your campus pastor in all of the financial conversations.

Your campus pastor is the one who’s going to be building relationships with your new church members. Therefore, they will be primarily responsible for cultivating generosity at your new location. Sit down with your campus pastor, and talk about the financial plan along with a cost structure. Set goals. Follow up on them.

Grow towards your people.

A campus is an extension of your existing church, which is what makes it different than a plant or a satellite church. Use the Church Community Builder Donor Analysis Report to see where the largest – or fewest – number of your giving units drive from to attend church. If there are a decent number of people who are driving more than 15–20 minutes to attend your church from a certain area, you should have a very good idea of where your next campus should be.

You shouldn’t launch a new campus until you know how you plan to become financially stable and how long it will take you get there. That doesn’t mean there won’t be unexpected surprises along the way. It just means everything won’t be a surprise and you will be able to move forward with an even greater sense of confidence, knowing you’ll be able to sustain what you started.

The quicker your campus moves from startup to self-sufficient, the sooner you can begin planning your next launch.

Read more from Church Community Builder.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Church Community Builder

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Why Your Church Should Think Twice Before Going Multi-Site

The multi-site revolution is the biggest thing to happen to the broader church movement in my almost 20 years of ministry. I’ve personally been involved in the launch of 12 campuses—working on 2 more as we speak!—and I’ve coached a bunch of other leaders through the process.I’ve written a lot on the multi-site movement and I’m genuinely a fan of this approach to multiplication.

However, you might want to think twice before attempting this approach to multiplication at your church. Avoid going multi-site if the following applies to your church:

  • You want to spur growth. // Going multi-site takes whatever is presently happening at your church and magnifies it. If your church is in decline, going multi-site won’t turn that around … it will probably push it further into decline. Take time to uncover why your church isn’t growing and focus on that before making the step towards multi-site. First nail it … then scale it.
  • Empty seats at prime time. // When was the last time your “prime time” service was packed to the roof? A building bursting with people provides the relational dynamics needed when casting vision for launching your services. Years ago, I heard an early multi-site pioneer say that if you didn’t have 7 weekend services at your original campus, you shouldn’t go multi-site. Although that is extreme, the core idea is correct. If you don’t have full services, it’s difficult to convince people to head to a new location.
  • Fuzziness on why people invite friends. // When launching your first campus, you’ll need to decide what to export to the new location. If there isn’t organizational clarity on what is most important, it will be difficult to make that transition smoothly. It doesn’t matter as much what leaders think needs to be exported—it matters what people in the church think is great about your church. Work hard to replicate that well.
  • Leaders who don’t build systems. // There are some church leaders who look down on documentation and repeatable processes because they see them as less spiritual. Those leaders have a harder time making the transition to multi-site because the entire ministry is built on systems. You need people in your leadership who can care for people through structuring a nurturing environment and not just by meeting one on one with people. Leaders need to be able to scale their influence through building a systematic approach to ministry
  • Ego-driven leaders. // If you are the sort of leader who needs to get credit for everything that happens, don’t go multi-site. If you are the sort of leader who needs every team to look to you for direction and answers, multi-site is not for you. One of the great paradoxes of multi-site is that it is often criticized because it elevates a few leaders over a larger number of communities. My experience is that leaders who thrive in multi-site are people who can empower, defer and encourage a wide variety of leaders. They give up control to allow their ministry to multiply. Think hard before you make this step: Are you willing to draw in other leaders and release the ministry over to them?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on why churches should avoid going multi-site! Join the discussion in the comments section below.

> Read more from Rich.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Process >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.