Launching a new campus off of an established church base can be an exceptional way to reach a different geographic region, demographic or age group. Chip Payne shared his church’s strategy in this article we featured last year. If you choose to go portable, we can offer a few strategic tips as well.
Portability or Permanency
Portability, of course, has a special place in our hearts for the new church plant. Portability is an economical way to launch your new campus. As you’ve probably heard us mention before, owning a building can cost upwards of $5,000 / seat. Portability, however, can cost as little as $200 / seat.
The unique setting itself (movie theatre, high school, casino, bowling alley, pub, pizza parlor, art museum, etc.) can prove to be dynamic place for new ministry options. For instance, a multi site church in Michigan uses their unique setting of a winery warehouse to create “Wine Ceremonies” for the church. Together, they make the wine from the picking of the grapes to the distilling to the bottling. At the ends of the months-long process, the wine is used for a very special communion ceremony. Each step of the process is symbolic (i.e. Crushing the grapes represents Jesus crushing the enemy, etc) and at the communion ceremony, each instrument used is also symbolic (i.e., the filling of the wine glass represents our bodies being filled with the Holy Spirit). The ceremony not only brings together the church as a community, but has special meaning as it is held at a winery warehouse!
Don’t apologize for portability – embrace it!
Know your audience! This is an opportunity to reach an expanded demographic, create a solution for your growth limitations or reach a different geographic location. Understanding your audience will influence everything from support ministries to finances to technology.
When sculpting your vision for the new site, remember that you are not limited by your building! You are limited only by your creativity.
Clearly understanding and communicating your vision will focus your teams, your passion and your commitment.
Building Your Teams
What is the structure of your new site? Will you be a video venue? Will you teach the same sermon at the same time during the same series? Will you be an organic plant, free to do whatever is culturally relevant in that area, with no loyalty to a previous “brand” of churching? The answers to these questions will allow you to understand the impact of your undertaking on your current staff.
• Do you need to duplicate staff, or will the venue be run by existing staff?
• Does your team buy into this new concept of church?
• How will you handle recruiting for the new campus?
• How will the current volunteer force be affected (if at all)?
• How will planning meetings and communication be handed?
Finding Your Facility
When searching for your facility (see our other articles on facility choice here), know your exit plan. As the new campus grows, how will you respond? Will you add services? Relocate your venue? Begin a building campaign? You need to choose a venue that will support your exit plan.
Additionally, as you search for facilities, think of the environment you want to create. Are you transferring the vision from your permanent facility to a rented facility? Are you locked in to certain names and logos and expectations from your home campus? The kind of environment you want to create will play a key role as you search for facilities to rent.
Creating the Experience
Create a welcoming environment. From children’s areas to welcome areas to technology areas, this element is key. Movie Theatres, school auditoriums and school gymnasiums all provide different amounts of flexibility in creating your look.
In your main worship area, using lighting, parachutes, soft-goods or backdrops are easy and portable ways to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for worship. In children’s areas, consider using brightly colored dividers or foam flooring to create a fun play-place. You can also paint 3-D murals on backdrops to create a portable set for dramas and interactive worship. In youth areas, using bean bags instead of chairs can promote a sense of camaraderie. In your welcome areas, consider offering something other than the standard coffee service and information packets. Choose something that is relevant to your congregational personality. One church in Florida serves fruit-smoothies in addition to coffee service. The smoothies are served in portable equipment and manned by a team to welcome and cool down attendees on a hot day. The equipment is easy to use, easy to clean and makes an impact every Sunday service.
Creating the experience, however, isn’t just about “stuff”, it’s also about the staff and creating opportunities for connection. One church in Seattle uses “Sunday Dinner” as a way for newcomers to connect at their new campus. Before settling in for their Sunday evening service, the church holds a pass-a-dish-dinner every single week. There is a lot of energy in that room as 300 people mill about engaging with one another before the service. Worship can be an incredibly moving experience when sharing it with those you are in relationship with, as opposed to a group of strangers.
Choosing Your Equipment
Equipment is dependent on many factors. First, it should be dictated by your vision and the type of the equipment you’ll purchase will vary for each church depending on skill level, venue selections, point of use, etc.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when purchasing the equipment.
o Cubic Volume
o Ease of Set-Up and Tear Down
• Volunteer Labor Needed
• Professionalism (Image and Aesthetics)
o Short Term vs. Life Cycle
o Equipment Economics vs. Volunteer Labor
o Aesthetics vs. Volunteer Safety
• System Design, Purchase and Integration
o Do – It – Yourself vs. “Professional Help”
When setting out on your new venture, make decisions that will transfer easily to your next set of campuses.
• Ensure Your Vision Is Reproducible
• Ensure Your Equipment Is Portable
• Ensure Your Equipment Is Efficient
• Ensure Your Equipment Is Conducive To Team Effectiveness
• Ensure Your Equipment Matches Your Vision
Check out this link here for interesting reads on the Multi-Site Concept, or call our offices for more references.