By Danny Watterson
Churches all over the country are seeking strategies on how to reach more people and expand their influence, and one huge means of that is multiplying their church into a multisite ministry. If your church is among the multitudes that are on the brink of launching a new location, be forewarned: for every multisite success story, there is a story of a church that did not execute it very well.
It is true that if you do your research, organize your planning, and wrap it all in prayer, your new campus has a great chance of thriving. However, before you launch a campaign and strategize with your team, take note of these potential multisite malfunctions that our team has witnessed in our work helping churches find their staff members. There are surely hundreds of additional considerations, but these are a few areas that can easily sidetrack a new multisite strategy.
1. Lack of Clarity
Clarity is key when defining the type of campus as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Campus Pastor. While sometimes it’s easy to remain flexible or vague when setting up a new church initiative, this is not recommended when kicking off a new location or hiring a new Campus Pastor. There are critical areas that church leaders should decide early on when hiring a Campus Pastor. Being clear with your church’s intentions and vision from the beginning will allow your new campus and team to grow, and ultimately, save you many of the personnel headaches we’ve seen in the past.
2. Inaccurate Language
While this may seem trivial, starting a multisite ministry requires the utmost care and forethought. As most church leaders know, what may seem small to some could be a huge divisive issue with others. How you phrase a common sentence must change when you have two or more locations. Phrases such as “main campus” or “satellite location” can easily cause staff and attendees to feel like they’re getting a diminished version of the real thing. Using an inclusive and consistent form of verbiage across all campuses will go a long way in creating a connection and eliminating confusion.
3. Lack of Communication
If you want your new location to feel like a true extension of the body, the senior leadership must include the campuses, communicate with them, and do everything you can to make them feel as much a part of the church as the main campus. By communicating effectively, your multisite staff and attendees will feel truly attached to the overall vision and mission of the church.
4. Copycat Ministry
When you see something that works well, it’s perfectly natural to want to implement it in your setting. However, simply copying a successful multisite model of another church could be a recipe for failure, unless there are adjustments for your unique environment. The most important factor is to hold true to culture, regardless of the specific multisite church model you’re striving for. There are hundreds of successful models and multisite strategies from all over the country; however, choosing one without adjusting it to your congregation and culture will likely set you back. Catch a new and fresh vision while holding to your unique community.
5. Relying On Hand-Me-Downs
God blessed my wife and I with three beautiful and unique daughters. As they were growing up, it was so easy to pass down clothes and toys from one to the next. However, this money-saving concept only lasted so long; what we thought was a foolproof concept we later realized wasn’t the best idea. The middle sister had a completely different style and personality than the oldest. Even though we forced her into the clothes we already had, I’m sure we could have valued her unique personality by spending a little extra. By the time my youngest got the “leftovers,” you can imagine how worn and tattered they were. Hopefully you can see the parallels here.
It’s initially a great concept (and often easier) to hand things down to your campuses until they’re used to their full potential. However, I’d encourage you to invest in several big, visible pieces of new equipment for your new campus so that the staff and congregation doesn’t feel second-rate to the main campus.
I’m sure there are many more examples of multisite malfunctions, but these are a few we’ve seen and heard in the past. Communication, clarity, catching a vision for your unique setting and resourcing the new location are all key elements of a successful multisite. It’s not easy, but it is well worth the investment to reach a new community with the gospel.
Danny Watterson serves as an Executive Search Consultant at Vanderbloemen Search Group.
This article was originally published on the Vanderbloemen Church Leadership Blog and has been republished here with permission.