Case Study: Harvest Renewal Church, VA
May 17, 2006

Our Multisite Strategy

Harvest Renewal Church is a multi-ethnic, multi-generational congregation in Richmond, VA that was started in January of 2000. Our vision is to be a people who demonstrate the presence, passion and purposes of God to our community, nation and world. The execution of that vision is to reach people with the love of Christ, to see their lives renewed by His truth, and to have the life of Christ reproduced in the next generation.

In short, our mission is to reach, to renew and to reproduce.

Since our inception, we have drawn regionally from many parts of the area to our downtown facility surrounded by Virginia Commonwealth University, a campus of over 30,000 students. We found ourselves in a unique position of being a growing urban church with limited/borrowed parking, and having a facility that was ill equipped to handle three services and a large number of children. More importantly, we were challenged on how to practically implement reaching the first mission field of our vision statement: our community.

Richmond is divided by the James River and by the interstate system which allows us to segment the city into four quadrants with “downtown” in the center. We could effectively have 5 church sites with 1500 attendees coming to each site each weekend and still not have reached 1% of the population of our city. We felt challenged that God was calling us to reach the whole of the community of metro Richmond, as evidenced by our demographics. Our vision was no longer limited to the downtown area where our physical church was located.

Our Five Reasons Behind Multi-Site

After much prayer, we decided that we were to implement the vision of being a multiple site church (multi-site); Simply, we were going to have one centralized office, one pastoral team, and multiple worship locations. We saw several positives to this strategy.

Economies of scale:

We could run more efficiently, dedicating more resources to ministry (ex: instead of 4 receptionists for 4 churches, we would have one receptionist for one central office).

Reproducible Leadership:

We could create more opportunities to raise up leaders by opening new venues with more opportunities to serve. Each venue would maintain our central core values (Lordship, Discipleship, Evangelism, Raising up Leaders and Family), but would still maintain the freedom to express those values differently based on the community surrounding the site location.

Reproducible Resources:

We could obtain the resource possibilities of a larger church, but maintain the community of a smaller church

Strengthened Influence:

We could maintain continuity of vision and mission throughout the organization without the relational complexities of individual autonomous churches. We saw this as only strengthening our ability to influence our community.

Life Change on a Grand Scale:

Most importantly, we could more effectively reach a greater number of people with the gospel if we had multiple sites throughout the area.

Fight With Our Brothers

The first step in the strategic plan to become a multisite was to relocate and consolidate all three services to a high school in the N.E. quadrant of the city. Not surprisingly, this is where our relationship with Portable Church Industries began.

We wanted to position ourselves for strength so that we could re-identify. We wanted to be as one people worshipping and building together instead of three separate services with three distinct identities, and not enough leadership or resources to start anything new.

Some of our staff and people had a distinct burden for downtown and its immediate urban residential areas, so the decision for all of us to leave downtown was a difficult one, but we have adopted Numbers 32 as a precedent for us.

The tribes of Gad and Rueben had a desire for a specific piece of land as their inheritance, but Moses required them to cross over the Jordan for the sole purpose of fighting with their brothers for the greater vision of the land of Canaan before they obtained their own inheritance. Likewise, we have chosen to fight for the greater vision of metropolitan Richmond! In fact, one of our first sites is potentially back downtown where we just came from!

Not Without Challenges

The consolidation has presented some unique challenges. For instance, we have a thriving campus ministry with full time campus workers at VCU and on the University of Richmond campus, near downtown, and many miles from our now-consolidated location.

Additionally, still in our church, we have a number of people that have a geographic burden for the “Fan District” and the city center.

There are also many unknown factors that we have yet to determine regarding going multiple site including (but not limited to) governmental structure, budgeting and fiscal autonomy for each site.

Picturing The Future

We know that in order to accomplish our vision and mission of “Reaching, Renewing and Reproducing”, we have to think bigger, broader and bolder. This is still a work in progress, but an exciting time for us. We strongly believe that this strategy will yield stronger leadership and teams to begin planting sites all across this great city of Richmond!

Harvest Renewal Church is a thriving soon-to-be multi-site church that meets at Atlee High School in Richmond, VA