Recent estimates suggest that as many as 8,000 U.S. churches are utilizing a multisite strategy. I’m confident we’ll see that number increase in 2016. On one hand, I’m excited to see more and more churches taking steps to expand into new communities. On the other, I’m afraid that many churches are considering a multisite strategy prematurely.
The reason? Leadership teams often misunderstand the actual purpose of multisite. Here are a few strategies for which it is often mistaken:
1. Multisite is not a Growth Strategy.
If you’re not currently reaching people, a new location is not going to fix that. You don’t become a growing church by going multisite. You go multisite because you are a growing church.
If you’re looking for growth, identify your existing challenges before taking on a new one.
2. Multisite is not a Change Strategy.
Feeling like your church is stuck in the past? You cannot avoid the changes you need to make at one location by simply opening another. Don’t expect your first location to just “catch on” when they see the new campus. Instead, they’ll be saying, “That’s great for them! I still like what we do here.” There is no secret backdoor to sneak changes on people.
If you’re looking to create real change, start having intentional conversations with leaders about where you need to make progress.
3. Multisite is not a Succession Strategy.
Want to give your next lead pastor some preaching experience? Have a talented youth pastor tired of working with teenagers? A campus launch will give that leader plenty of new challenges and opportunities to develop. But that’s not a good enough reason to go multisite.
If you’re looking to develop a successor, establish a leadership development strategy and begin to give some of your responsibilities away.
4. Multisite is not a Diversification Strategy.
If you’re looking to start reaching a new demographic, multisite is not your best strategy. Reaching different types of people requires different approaches and resources, along with an additional time commitment. Is your church equipped to provide all those?
The best way to reach new demographics is to plant churches, not launch campuses. Consider financially supporting a church plant for a period of time. By empowering a new organization, you will more effectively reach the community and protect your church from spreading itself too thin.
If you’re looking to reach a new demographic, you’re better off developing and sponsoring a church planting team.
5. Multisite is not an Investment Strategy.
Avoid thinking of a new location as an opportunity to increase giving. Just because an area is more affluent does not mean a new campus will contribute positively to your budget. Plan for a new campus to operate with a deficit for at least three years.
If you’re looking to increase contributions, develop a vision that resonates with your current congregation.
So what is multisite after all?
Multisite is an Evangelism Strategy.
The multisite movement first began as megachurches outgrew their buildings and needed additional space to continue reaching people. Churches first went multisite because their existing strategies were working so well!
If your church has experienced growth or simply ran out of space, you should definitely consider a new campus in 2016 or 2017. We’d love to help you get ready to go multisite.
The Unstuck Group has also recently released a few resources to help you dig deeper into what sets successful multisite churches apart:
Read our white paper: One Team. Multiple Locations. How Staff Teams at Effective Multisite Churches Overcome Distance and Lead Together.Download Free White Paper
Watch a replay of our recent webinar: Making Multisite Work, with Tony Morgan, Warren Bird, and members of The Unstuck Group team.Watch on YouTube
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