Superman’s only real threat, as it turns out, was Kryptonite!
When a growing church has a clear and relentless vision of reaching a given community or region with a multisite strategy, it will face challenges, or kryptonite, if you will.
“How do we keep adding new campuses in new communities?” Somehow, church leaders “miraculously” discover/create ways to beat the barriers and to thrive even more! Typical place and space challenges faced by multisite churches are illustrated here through the experience of LibertyLive.Church in Hampton, Virginia. The extraordinary expense and timing issues associated with providing facilities for multisite campuses can easily threaten momentum.
A real threat to derail multistie momentum
A growing number of churches are fully executing multisite as a part of their multiplication strategy for reaching new people in new communities. After nearly four decades, there appears to be no right or wrong models for multisiting – but there ARE ways to do it well and ways to do it poorly.
Sustaining momentum of launching additional campuses, especially after the initial 2-3 sites, proves to be significantly more difficult because of growing complexities. The necessity for new facilities in new communities presents new issues that could be crippling to essential momentum. The speed of raising resources, developing sites, perceived inefficiencies, and perceived ineffectiveness becomes a threat to the rhythm of growth established since initially embracing a multisite strategy.
Threats to LibertyLive.Church’s vision became real – A case study
LibertyLive.Church has been significantly blessed. In 2008, it expanded seating capacity by delivering the sermon via video to members seated in the church gym. This experience taught LibertyLive that what could be done across the hall, could also be done in communities throughout Hampton Roads.
A year later, the 100+ year multigenerational and multiethnic church, led by a new visionary pastor, began exploring what it would look like “to reach the entirety of Hampton Roads.” Soon LibertyLive began to grow with this vision in mind.
LibertyLive expanded capacity again with the construction of a 3,000-seat worship center. In the middle of all this activity, the leadership team became students of multisiting—a growing method of reaching more people in a region. They were keenly aware not everyone in Hampton Roads would drive to the Hampton Campus location. LibertyLive desired to launch campuses in communities where its members and guests live in order to welcome even more neighbors. Practically speaking, this meant LibertyLive’s vision was ten campuses by 2026.
LibertyLive.Church leased commercial property in the Harborview/Suffolk area and outfitted it to accommodate 550 seats for the gospel. After sending 250-300 members/attenders, the campus quickly grew to a regular weekend attendance of 700-750 at the new location.
LibertyLive.Church was compelled to lease a new flex space and built it out to include 825 seats. Having commissioned and sent another 172 members/attenders to worship at the new space, it grew to an average of 600-700 people after its first year. Regular attendance is now 1100+ each weekend.
LibertyLive.Church was blessed with an opportunity to merge with another church in the York River area. A building was gifted to them as part of the two congregations coming together. An investment was made to renovate, and the subsequent build-out provided an additional 300 seats. The new location launched with 230+ people between the existing members from the seed congregation and those from Liberty. Less than two years later, the York River Campus proudly welcomes 525+ each week.
Even with four campuses comprising almost 4,700 seats and average weekend attendance of 6,400+, more needed to be done to open new seats to the Hampton Roads region for hearers of The Gospel.
Growing comfortable with a culture of organizational adjustments, the Liberty leadership team came face-to-face with the challenges of their vision. Three new threats (two real and one perceived) to LibertyLive’s well-established rhythms and processes became factors that increasingly hindered growth.
The first two speedbumps were finances and time. Knowing what it took to establish four permanent 24/7 campuses, forecasting six more was easy. Considering the outcome LibertyLive wanted and the current pace at which it was expanding, there wasn’t going to be enough of either resource to reach the goal of ten campuses by 2026.
Unfortunately, the church’s method of buying and maintaining facilities was cost-prohibitive. Raising funds, developing a new venue and launching a campus was a slow process.
Additionally, LibertyLive had an expectation of doing all things with excellence, thus creating the third speedbump. As insufficient resources threatened the vision, would the church have to accept a hit to its high standards?
The conclusion: The LibertyLive way of launching campuses would have to slow down significantly, or change.
As it turned out, the kryptonite was not enough to deter LibertyLive from such a clear and compelling vision. However, the situation forced the church to innovate and trust God to provide a new solution so it could continue building physical capacity for the gospel, forever impacting the Hampton Roads region.
The church has a history of innovating
Churches adopt a multisite strategy for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes, multisites are established to serve as a space or reach solution. A methodology replacing the large regional church and the burdensome expenses associated with it is adding seats in surrounding neighborhoods.
Churches that end up as a multisite typically start with one prime time service becoming overcrowded. The next step in the progression to multisiting is adding services in order to experiment with new times, or even different days. Next, churches typically create additional venues on its main site, typically taking advantage of fellowship halls, gymnasiums and other common areas within the facility.
Once a church runs out of usable space and effective alternative service times, leadership must decide to go forward using one of the following options:
- consider doing nothing new, essentially capping growth
- expand current facility; incur the expense of remodeling maintenance and increased resources going forward
- sell the current facility, buy and start over (this time bigger) rinse and repeat
- start a program of planting new, independent churches; send a significant number of members “on mission” to nearby communities
- multisite! Become one church in multiple locations
The rest of the story…
The Kryptonite of Multisite Momentum is a new FREE RESOURCE designed for church leaders blessed with a white-hot vision for kingdom growth. Check out the rest of Liberty.Live’s story and how they continue to thrive today.