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The Key to Sustaining Multisite Momentum
February 13, 2020

The most critical asset a church’s leadership team can acquire is a big bold Kingdom-sized vision.  Without it, we are assured that people all around us will be perishing (Prov. 29:18).  This is why leadership in the church is not for the faint of heart!

Experience tells us, a clear and compelling vision necessarily brings a challenge to all who embrace it.  Yet, it has always been impressive how leaders with a big vision always seem to figure out how to get it done. 

For leaders who have a bold vision for Kingdom multiplication, and use a multisite strategy, will indeed face challenges.  Great leaders get past the speedbumps, likely becoming more effective because of them. 

Most multisite leaders will confirm, as a church exceeds two locations or more, there are two speedbumps that present themselves.  The first speed bump is the challenge of organizational chaos.  As the complexity of multiple sites grows, so does the challenge to reinvent the organizational structure to maintain order and effectiveness.  The second speed bump is the continual need to develop and allocate physical resources.  It is this speedbump that will be the focus for the rest of this post.

After working with multisite churches for over 25 years, churches are launching campuses into a variety of physical sites.  Generally, it appears there are five ways to do it – and they all come with a list of pros and cons.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, the church IS engaged in property and real estate concerns.  The same wisdom we exercise to lead the church in matters of holiness and discipleship needs to be used to sort out practical matters such as this.

To start, we believe the best way for the multisite church to grow and thrive is to have some balance of these 5 methods of campuses. We LOVE launching churches portably, but we know each option carries its own advantages!

The diversified approach helps a church balance the urgency of the gospel imperative with the availability of capital, cash flow, and other resources. 

1. New Build

When a church buys a piece of land and then goes to work dreaming, designing, and eventually building. This includes going through the lengthy and laborious process of vision casting, raising money, and getting loans.

  • Pros: You get exactly what you want, It’s your vision, DNA, and Design, The final product allows a 24/7 presence, Community landmark, A sense of “we’ve arrived!”
  • Cons: The most time consuming to do, Most expensive to do, High ongoing cashflow for maintenance, Becomes a lid to curb growth, Too big or small –once built it is what it is, Expensive mistake if it’s not just right, A sense of “we’ve arrived!”

2. Buying Existing Commercial Facility

Because of the way our economy is shifting, more big-box stores (Toys R Us, Circuit City, Kmart, etc) are closing and becoming available to the church (as well as other businesses).

  • Pros: Usually already a GREAT location, Excellent accessibility and Visibility, Existing shell already built, usually accommodates zoning, Still flexible for interior build-out.
  • Cons: 2nd most time consuming to do, 2nd most expensive to do, 2nd Highest ongoing cashflow for maintenance, Becomes a lid to curb growth, Too big or small –once built it is what it is, Still expensive mistake if it’s not just right.

3. Leasing Existing Commercial Facility

Leasing a commercial property for 5-10 years with good net terms.

  • Pros: With the right terms Landlord deals with large ticket items (roof, walls, HVAC, Parking Lot, etc), Good Location, access, visibility, At contract termination you can extend or move, Interior build-out is flexible. Less of a permanent lid.
  • Cons: May outgrow facility faster than expected, If you move, leave build-out investment behind, Must deal with commercial neighbors needs, Landlord may limit parking.

4. Mergers

Redemption process in the church where (typically) older exhausted churches get resources and renewed vision from a healthy growing and vibrant church. 

  • Pros: Existing structures with existing presence, Opportunity to pour in new resources to impact facilities or ministry, Established presence in community, Final product allows a 24/7 presence.
  • Cons: Takes Time, patience, and leadership capital, Dynamic process requiring trust-building, Delicate language and body language required, Established presence in the community, Some hard ($$) & soft costs (people) could be involved.

5. Portably 

Renting week to week the venue that you hold your service in. 

We are going to do a much deeper dive into this in coming blog posts.  We will consider whether or not portability can be done with excellence, and then talk about ten bonus benefits of doing church portably.  This will prove to be a huge key to unlocking the possibilities for multisite churches with an aggressive multiplication goal to regain traction. 

 All of these methods and much more are talked about in greater detail in our new resource The Kryptonite of Multisite Momentum.  Other resources include an eBook that talks about choosing the right facility as well as a Facility Cost Comparison Matrix.