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3 Landmines To Avoid When Going Multisite

Posted by David Fantin on 5/3/17 7:23 AM

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Becoming a multisite church is never easy. From finding or building a facility to budgeting for staffing changes, there are many challenges that churches face when moving from a church with one site to one with multiple campuses. No matter how well a church plans and prepares, there are bound to be a few preparations or considerations that are overlooked.

Through my experience being part of a group of volunteers who were sent to launch a new campus, as well as through my work here at Vanderbloemen talking with multisite church leaders, I have found three common potential landmines that churches should be aware of as they prepare to begin a multisite church model.

1. Disunity Among Campuses

There are many different types of multisite church models. Regardless of the model a church uses, one thing must remain true - the mission and vision should be consistent and resonate across all campuses. Your staff or congregation should never feel as if it “us versus them.”

I've heard a story of a campus staff member being asked by the Senior Pastor of the main campus to change a portion of the service. The Sunday came and went without the change being made, so the Senior Pastor asked the Campus Pastor to ask the staff member why the change didn’t happen. The staff member’s response was, “He’s not my Pastor” (referring to the Senior Pastor). 

Not only should your congregation see their campus as a part of a unified, larger body of believers, but the staff should too. That means everyone should know the organizational chart and have an intimate understanding of the church’s mission and vision. 

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2. Demographic Differences

Recently, I was speaking with an Elder board at a church that had launched a new campus across town, and they were talking through some of the challenges they were currently facing at the new campus. One recurring theme was that they were blindsided by the demographical differences between their two campuses.

Their main campuses was well-established in a middle/upper-class community, while their new campus was planted in a more impoverished area.

Not only were the needs of each campus very different, but communication styles were seemingly opposite as well. One of the Elders pointed out that for the most part many of the people at their main campus never wanted for anything, while the opposite was true at their new campus. The leadership of the church quickly realized they needed to refocus how they were going to reach this community

This should be an eye opener for any church considering going multisite. Before building or moving into a facility, take the time to be in that community. Understand where the people are coming from. Get to know their needs, and plan your outreach approach accordingly.

3. Not Staffing For Agility

One of our core values here at Vanderbloemen is Ever-Increasing Agility. We want to be able to thrive under change as well as pivot quickly when necessary.

In the context of multisite staffing, agility is key. Whether you are taking existing main campus staff members and moving them to the new campus or hiring new staff members, you need people who can thrive without as much routine or as many resources at their disposal.

One church I know of has a portable campus that meets in a high school gym. With 3 weeks notice, the church learned that prom would be hosted in the school gym, and they wouldn't be allowed to have services the week of prom. In those 3 weeks, the campus staff put together “online church” and streamed the entire service online, which they had never done before. 

That is the kind of agility that is needed among satellite campus staff. When problems arise, you need a team that can think on their feet and provide solutions to previously unforeseen issues.

What are some other considerations that leaders need to think through when preparing to go multisite?

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Topics: Church Development, Senior Leadership

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