You Multiply Who You Are
Multi-site is hard. Budgets get spread thin. More staff is needed. A lot of strategic decisions have to be made. Vision has to be communicated clearly and models have to be chosen. But, when it works, it works. New areas of a city are reached and more people become disciples of Christ. One church can go further as a multiple campus church than it ever could at one campus. Well, maybe. For every story of a success there’s a story of a church that tried and it didn’t work.
It doesn’t have to be that way. By asking a few questions and accurately evaluating where you are, you can effectively move toward being multi-site.
Leaders tend to want to go fast, really fast. “Let’s shoot the gas to this thing and get a new campus launched!” But, by pausing and asking a few simple, strategic questions you can save yourself a lot of leadership headaches. There’s a lot of questions to ask, but here are three areas to question that can save you some time, maybe some credibility, and get the conversation started to multiply your mission by launching a new campus.
- Do we have organizational health? When you look at the organizational side of your church, does it “work”? Are things efficient? Are leaders, volunteers clear about your mission? Do staff have clear job descriptions and reporting structure? Get with your leaders or staff and ask them to rate each of those areas and see what you get. This will reveal areas that may need some changes.
- Do we provide a meaningful experience? No matter what style or expression of church you lead, there is some level of a planned experience, from highly produced to bare bones. No matter what the level of production, whether you’re sitting in rows, around a table, or in a living room, there has always been an experience component to the church. When you gather for an experience: Do people feel welcomed? Do they come back? Do they take next steps of faith? Do you have a solid follow up system for guests? Is the pathway to get connected clear? Do you track how many people are taking next step? No matter what the size, giving people a meaningful experience, with clear next steps is essential.
- Do we reach into our community/world? The church, by design, seeks to reach more people with the gospel of Christ. While we can gather for a meaningful experience, we also go beyond that to reach out to those who far from God, need our help, or both. That’s what many churches call “outreach”. Is that happening in your church? Does your city know you’re there? Do schools who are in your area know about you? Have you helped plant a new church? The old question that should convict every church leader is this “If our church ceased to exist, would anyone even notice?”. There are many ways to do outreach and there’s plenty of need. What is your “thing”? Do you have one? How would you rate your church on its current effectiveness at reaching out to the local community and the world?
What do these questions have to do with launching another campus? A LOT! Because every question that reveals an area of unhealth in your church, also reveals an area that will be unhealthy when you multiply. Why? Because you multiply who you are. Launching a new campus doesn’t fix unhealth, it multiplies it. Think of an area that is ineffective right now. Launching another campus will give you that, times two. If you’re not making disciples who make disciples, you will then double your ineffectiveness. You get the picture. You multiply who you are, the healthy effective elements of your culture as well as the unhealthy ineffective elements. Can I get an amen from those, like me, who’ve done it?
So, you want to hit the gas pedal? Great. Multisite does work, it does reach more people when done effectively, but first pause, honestly evaluate where you are, get some advice from those who have gone before you. Especially from those who have made mistakes you don’t want to make. Other’s mistakes are far less costly to your mission. Ask the hard questions with your leaders and staff, get your organization healthy and your mission clear. Do that and you will move much further over time than jumping out before you’re ready.
A great place to start is the Stadia multisite intensive. It’s a day and half experience followed by five months of customized coaching that will help your team think through what needs to happen and what you need evaluate, and get you ready to go full speed ahead on the day you multiply your mission to a second campus.
I didn’t plan on being a pastor. God relentlessly pursued me with his grace until I gave in. I am glad that I did. Many years ago, I lived in darkness, far from God. That memory motivates me to find others who have lost their way. If that’s you, I’ve been there, I know how it feels, and I know the way out. I invite you to come check out our church. You’ll find a safe place to explore, ask questions, and make some friends. If you’re a follower of Christ looking for a new church, great! Come join us on our mission of helping people connect with God.
Raleigh has been home to my family since 1998. After 12 years in college ministry in West Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina, we felt God’s direction to help plant a church.
My wife is Cinda and we have three daughters: Molly, Abby, and Lexi.