Pros & Cons of Multi-Site Church Ministry
By: Vanderbloemen September 12, 2013
More and more churches are jumping on the multi-site church bandwagon. The pioneers of the multi-site church movement include video venue pioneers like Lifechurch.tv, Fellowship Church, Willow Creek, North Point, and Central Christian Las Vegas.
How have these churches had success engaging attendees and discipling them in the multi-site movement?
1. Distinct Culture
Each multi-site church campus has distinct cultures when it comes to the weekend experience, even if there are multiple campuses in the same city. The video-cast message content may be the same, but the demographics of the population, the style of the worship, and the unique building they meet in all contribute to the nature of their culture.
The distinct chemistry of each campus contributes to the trend toward hiring a separate campus pastor for each site instead of the main campus-centric model where all programming and content for ministry stems from the “mother ship.”
Pro: The Campus Pastor leadership model allows more freedom for the Campus Pastor to meet the needs of his or her unique congregation instead of relying on the main campus for every ministry decision. Programming for both the weekend experience as well as children, youth, and midweek adult discipleship can also be independently tailored to meet the needs of the local church congregation.
Con: One caution to this approach is the challenge of maintaining the original DNA of the church as it was founded. Each multi-site church must decide if they want to follow the franchise model where each service at every campus is homogenous or if they want each campus to have its distinct feel and ministry offerings.
Pro: One of the greatest successes to multi-site ministry is that churches are able to deliver the samegreat weekend experiences to people in communities outside of the one where the church was originally founded. Many churches have perfected this experience with HD projection and multiple camera shots synced to multiple screens.
On any given weekend in the largest sanctuaries in our country, most people are looking at a video screen to see their pastor speak already, so one argument for the video venue is that this experience is not that much different than the live event. I have been a part of a multi-site ministry for years and would agree on many levels.
Con: One challenge that cannot be ignored is that certain parts of our language (humor for instance) as well as live-audience energy do not translate well over video cast. Other challenges include time sensitive, location specific, or detailed information related to the venue they are speaking in.
Pro: Because of the major advances in the world of technology, people are able to have a community experience in different venues around the world at the same time. The best video-casts I have seen have had well synced audio to the speaker's movements, precisely edited in and out points, and managed to deliver a variety of video shots and angles so that it kept the viewer engaged.
Con: One major challenge of this type of technology is that it is extremely expensive and also requirestechnical expertise that the average production volunteer and even staff member may not have. We're often called to help churches find technical experts to join their church staff because it requires a trained specialized skill set. Another technological wonder of the multi-site church is the live stream. This is a highly complex and expensive option. Whatever type of technology route you might consider using for your multi-site campus model, you should give yourself plenty of time to research best practices and potential pitfalls before you jump in and invest both money and manpower.
Finally, one best practice for multi-site video-cast is to always having a back up message ready to play should your technology fail. Make it the job of your weekend team leader to have a video back up ready to plug and play should you experience a major video cast fail one weekend. It happens to the best churches sooner or later.
For best practices and helpful tips for multi-site ministry, check out our friends at Multi-Site Solutionswho have a wealth of advice and years of experience.
Has your church added multi-site venues? Share your best practices here.