In 2014, our church launched its second location. Our church has been in the city of Jacksonville for over 100 years, and we have always had a vision of reaching the entire city.
We felt that in order to continue with the vision of reaching our city in the modern church context, we must embrace multi site church.
So, we set out on this journey and launched a campus about 15 miles away in a growing part of our city. The campus would start in a portable facility, an elementary school.
We are four years in and preparing to launch another campus. I wanted to share a few tips on making multi-site church work from our experience:
1. Identify The Model Your Church Wants
Multi-site is awesome, but there are many different ways to do multi-site.
Are you going to have live preaching from your campus pastors or are you going to be a video venue.
Are all campuses going to be identical?
Are you doing multi-site with the eventual goal of making the church autonomous.
How aligned will your teams be?
Will you have a central support model or will your campus leaders have freedom to do what they want?
How big do you intend to launch in terms of gear? Are you going to launch big or small?
These are just a few of the different ways that churches are doing multi-site. Lifechurch with Groeschel does it differently than the Summit Church with J.D. Greear. Elevation Church with Furtick does it differently than Andy Stanley at North Point.
Everyone seems to do multi-site church differently.
If you want to be successful, find out your multi-site model early and go for it.
2. Be Flexible
Piggybacking on point number #1, I want you to understand that the multi-site model that you intend to embrace may not work for you.
So you start with the plan of being a video venue, and after the first three or four months, it is not working.
How are you going to handle that? Are you going to stick with it and power through it, or are you willing to be flexible.
For us, we have had to be flexible in our model shift.
Some of the original model that we launched with looks a tad different four years later and that is okay.
Don’t be afraid to be flexible.
3. Identify Your Volunteer Structure Early
As you add services, changing structure becomes more and more difficult.
For example, if you set a structure of attending one service a week and serving in that same service, it is very difficult to change gears and ask people to serve one and attend one.
That is the dilemma that we are currently in.
It is much easier to launch a certain way than to change something four years in.
Your people are used to a structure and changing it becomes difficult.
Make decisions when you launch that are steps to where you want to be in five years.
4. Allow Engagement To Drive Your Attendance
In the past, attractional church drove attendance. So if you add flashy lights, super contemporary music, and a casual environment, they will come.
Well, everyone is doing all of those things in churches everywhere today. So doing those things does not guarantee that they will come.
Instead, engagement is the current driver of attendance. If you want people to come to your church, engage them.
This means that you must have a killer connections team that can engage people quickly after their first visit.
This means that you have to consistently connect people to volunteer teams.
This means that you have to consistently call people out of rows and into circles (small groups).
I am not suggesting that you do not invest in production, but I am saying that production isn’t driving attendance. Engagement is.
Let me put it to you this way, your production can be great and your attendance not be growing. It is impossible to be engaging your new people and not be growing.
Engagement drives attendance.
Recognize it, and engage as many people as you possibly can. Grow your launch team and add more people to the team.
Are you in a multi-site model? If so, I would love to know what you have learned in your experience. Comment below and join the conversation.