Multisite churches impact over five million people every week, about the same number of people that make up metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia.
The rise of the multisite church is not a fad. In fact, as Ed Stetzer wrote in Christianity Today, multisite is the new normal for growing churches. However, this doesn’t mean that multisite churches don’t come with their own set of hurdles.
Are you are looking to launch a multisite church? Well, we’re here to make sure that you’re well-prepared to take on any roadblocks that come your way!
Here are the eight biggest challenges that multisite churches face. And, practical solutions to help you overcome them!
1. Dealing with an identity crisis:
While church plants need to maintain the original church’s DNA, each campus is bound to attract a different crowd, have some variation in style of worship and build its own distinct culture. The big question is – how do you strike a balance?
It’s crucial that you decide on your modus operandi earlier on! Here are some things to think about: Will the new campuses make every decision after asking the mother ship? Will each campus alter its identity to reach the community it is in? Will the satellite venues stream weekend services from the main campus. Or, will different campus pastors deliver different messages each week?
Once you have answered these questions, you will have a basic church structure in place. Zeroing in on the structure of the new campus, early in the game, is absolutely key. The next step is to communicate that plan to your entire team – well before the launch! This gives them time to soak it all in, set the right expectations and prepare themselves for what lies ahead.
2. Appointing the right leaders:
Finding the right leadership is one of the most crucial – and perhaps one of the hardest – aspects of launching any new church. Most multisite churches grapple with the question – where are the leaders going to come from?
Should you appoint leaders from outside or split your current leadership?
Jim Tomberlin, founder and senior strategist of MultiSite Solutions, offers valuable suggestions about recruiting new leaders. He suggests that it is best to first identify people within your team, or even your congregation, who embody your church’s DNA, have leadership qualities and would be ready for a new challenge.
No luck at home? “The next best place to look is within the network of your own staff team,” says Jim. They are bound to know many people serving in other churches. Ask them to pass the word around. Remember that any leader you bring in from outside must be allowed to train and acclimatize for a year – before the big launch.
3. Ensuring that new leaders share your church’s vision:
You might have finally found the right people for the leadership team – but the battle is only half won! How do you make sure that the larger vision of the church doesn’t get lost?
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
As your church plans for the new launch, each ministry team has the tendency to plan in isolation for their specific ministry. This way, it’s easy to overlook the overall vision of your church. Therefore, it is important for the leaders of each team to meet regularly to interact and brainstorm. This will make sure that everyone is on the same page, and will also avoid duplication of efforts.
Do remember to set up channels for regular communication and accountability from the start. Cast the vision. Set the boundaries. Keep talking!
4. Finding the right staff and volunteers:
Finding the right staff for a single church venue is hard enough. How do you fill in so many new positions?
Here’s an interesting statistic: 88% of churches report that going multisite increased the role of lay participation. People will step up.
That’s great! However, a new church needs a motivated group of volunteers and staff for a seamless, day-to-day running of church operations. And, building a driven and well-trained team of volunteers takes time. Many multisite churches face the challenge of finding equally eager volunteers for two or more campuses.
Will Vanderbloemen, pastor, and founder and CEO of The Vanderbloemen Search Group, offers some interesting perspective about finding the right talent. “The best recruiting churches I know have a white hot vision for people far from God. When they recruit staff, they point to the eternal impact that their employment will bring.”
Are you ready to recruit volunteers and staff with the same vision casting that you recruit people into the Kingdom with?
5. Making sure you have adequate finances:
Funding! That’s one of the biggest challenges many new churches face. If new campuses don’t become financially sustainable, and experience at least 5% annual growth within two years, they are losing Kingdom ground. How does one jump over the funding hurdle, and land on both feet?
Once again, the key is to ask the right questions well before the launch. How much money is the parent church prepared to invest in the startup church? Will each campus have its own budget? Or, will it be a case of many venues, one budget? How will the money be dispersed? How will the plant be accountable to the main church?
As one of the pioneers of the multisite church in US and Canada, Rich Birch is full of valuable insights for those looking to multiply their campuses. He says, “A purposeful timeline gives you more opportunity to build up the financial resources needed to launch well. Use the time to work with donors to build up the financial structure needed for a strong launch!”
6. Finding the perfect location:
Location is key! Where you start a church will determine how you interact and engage the local community.
The venue that you zero down on needs to complement the vision of your church. If you want to reach out to the youth, for example, launching in a casual space such as a movie theater or a restaurant would be a good idea.
Make sure that you don’t rush into finding a venue. As Rich Birch says, “You don’t want to negotiate a location under time pressure.” You need to consider costs, accessibility, layout, facilities, equipment requirements and lots more! In fact, here are seven tips to help you land that perfect venue.
7. Delivering a similar experience across all venues:
Pushing for consistency can be a pain point for multisite campuses. This is especially true when attendees expect a similar experience as the main church.
It is impossible for your new campus to be a replica of the parent church. It can, however, definitely communicate an identifiable experience. If your church starts with the sermon and ends with praise and worship, consider keeping the same format across all your campuses. Or, if weekend services typically end with free coffee, try and retain that too.
Strive to offer an identifiable, not an identical, experience.
8. Leveraging technology:
A great service experience has much to do with good technology and equipment. When launching, make sure that you have at least one technical expert on your team, to take care of your audio, video and lighting needs. That’s not all, your technology leader needs to be a team player – he/she is going to need volunteer support!
We can’t stress the need for choosing the right equipment for your specific needs. The best equipment doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive one! So, don’t waste money on features that you might never use.
You must also think about the people handling the equipment – will they be amateur volunteers or tech-savvy pros? You don’t want the equipment to overwhelm your team, do you? At the same time, you don’t want poor quality stuff that needs constant fixing!
At Portable Church, our experts have helped many churches launch new campuses. We start right from a consultation that helps us understand your custom needs, culture and vision. Once our custom-built Portable Church solution gets a green light from you – you can sit back and relax!
We’ll help you launch and set up in the right location, with the right equipment. Moreover, we’ll also train your volunteers, and be available for ongoing support and assistance.
Give us a call today at 800.939.7722 and we’ll help you launch strong!