June 6, 2016 Ryan Stigile

How Multisite Can Wreck Your Church

Going multisite can expand your ministry, reach new people, and have a positive impact on multiple communities. It can also wreck your church.

Just a few years ago, multisite was one strategy churches considered for reaching more people. Now it seems the standard strategy for every church. It’s rare anymore that I come into contact with a pastor of 800+ who isn’t already thinking about new campuses.

It’s great to dream about taking the gospel into new communities. In fact, at The Unstuck Group we often encourage churches to consider multisite as a next step. At the same time, we’ve also seen many churches become stuck as a result of going multisite. It wasn’t that the strategy was wrong for their church. They just didn’t take the right steps to prepare ahead of time.

We think you should think twice before launching another campus. Whether you are an existing or future multisite church, we want you to be as strategic as possible to reach as many people as possible. This month, we’re going to try to talk you out of going multisite — or at least out of going before you are ready. We’re not going to give you pie-in-the-sky ideals of how great it is to be multisite and why every church should launch a campus next year. You can find plenty of that on your own. Instead, we’re going to share the challenges, pitfalls, and shortcomings our team has seen and experienced with multisite churches.

To get things started, here’s an overview of 9 ways going multisite can wreck your church:

  1. Multiple Visions

    When the vision isn’t 100% clear at one location, new campuses develop their own.

  1. Draining Campuses

    When an existing location isn’t growing itself, launching a new campus will likely leave it worse off.

  1. Leaders At Their Lid

    New locations will shift existing staff from leading a ministry to developing ministry leaders – but only if they have the capacity to do so.

  1. Staff Tension

    When roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines are unclear, new campuses only further complicate relationships.

  1. Insufficient Volunteers

    Without a deep volunteer bench, a new campus will leave every team short of key players.

  1. Complicated Ministry Model

    Without a clear discipleship pathway, new campuses will pave their own, only adding to the confusion.

  1. Strained Systems

    Every additional campus tests the strength of existing systems. When those systems are underdeveloped, the entire organization slows down.

  1. Financial Pressure

    Startup costs along with the first few years of operations will always require a large investment. Without sufficient capital on the front-end, other campuses will see that investment as a burden.

  1. Downgraded Weekend Services

    When new campuses cannot create the experience a church is known for, either they become “second-rate” or established campuses are downgraded.

Does your church run the risk of any of these as you consider new campuses? We want to see you get and stay unstuck as you expand. One of the ways we help is through a Multisite Readiness Assessment. It’s an opportunity for us to get hands-on with your team and help you determine the steps needed to prepare for healthy, new campuses. It’s an investment on the front-end to save you problems for years to come.

Click here to learn more about launching campuses without wrecking your church. And keep an eye out for more multisite articles this month.


Photo Credit: Igor Goryachev via unsplash.com

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Ryan Stigile

Ryan Stigile serves as the Executive Pastor of Rock Bridge Community Church, a 5-campus church with campuses in Georgia and Tennessee. Previously, as Director of Expansion at NewPointe Community Church (NE Ohio), Ryan led the launch and development of new multisite campuses. With Mount Paran Church (Atlanta, GA), he guided the leadership team through a strategic change initiative to simplify and align its ministries. Ryan has a Master of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University and degrees in business administration and discipleship ministry from Lee University. He lives in Dalton, GA with his wife Emily and their daughter, Addison.
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