The Full-Service Multisite Church Experience: Q&A with Multisite Leader Stephen Trammell
May 10, 2022

A pastor shares best practices from launching another campus and gaining multisite church experience.

Is your church looking for ways to fulfill the great commission? It may be time to consider going multisite to reach more people.

Here’s what Pastor Stephen Trammell said about going multisite. He is a pastor and senior leader at Champion Forest Baptist Church, Texas, and we interviewed him about his involvement in launching their north campus. In Stephen’s answers, you will find practical insights into what it is like to lead within a multisite church and what he considers the most exciting part of his multisite church experience.

Interview with Multisite Leader Stephen Trammell

Q -Tell us a bit about the flavor of Champion Forest and your role there.

A – Champion Forest Baptist Church is a life group church, a full-service church, and we have over 6,000 people at our original campus. We are one church, in three locations, in four languages. We are embracing diversity strategically and we are convinced that the best way to reach the community is to reflect the community. We are a very diverse church, committed to embracing our community.

Q: When you say “full service, four languages”, what does that mean?

A: What I mean by “full service”, is that if you came to Champion Forest Baptist Church’s main campus, our original campus, it’s 55 acres, our property and buildings are worth around $10 million, it’s 600,000 square feet, and we have multiple worship venues.

All of this simply means that we run our own campus bible studies and that we are committed to getting families and singles onto our campus and while they’re here we want them to experience a small group environment and a worship environment. 

Full-service also means that we provide every ministry you can imagine. From a family life center to car care, to divorce care, to financial peace; we have every ministry you can imagine plus we are global and mission-minded. 

If your church is looking for a sure-fire way to fulfill the great commission, you should be looking at going multisite. As one church says: It’s time to extend our reach beyond the shadow of the steeple. Click To Tweet

Q: It must have been a big transition when you went multisite. How have you been able to transfer that idea to the new campus that you launched just a year ago?

A: The theme we’ve used to prepare our church family for multisite is “it’s time to extend our reach beyond the shadow of the steeple.” We do local missions, we do global missions, we are very intentional about them. But we thought about: What if we took church to the people? We thought about extending the reach to get people connected to the church. 

Another thing that was really interesting in our preparation phase was looking at Walmart supercenters. For every one Walmart supercenter, there are five Walgreen or CVS stores.  The concept is: What if we took our church to where the people are? Instead of expecting people to drive from far away and get to our original campus, what if we took the Champion Forest DNA, experience, and commitment to missions, evangelism, worship, discipleship, fellowship, and excellence and took that to where the people are? And so it’s a bit like a Walgreens; we took a Walgreens and birthed it north of here and so we established our north campus one year ago. 

Q: Tell us about the location of your north campus. What is it like?

A: We are a portable church, which means that every Sunday morning we set up for life groups and worship and then tear down and vacate the premises after our time together. We are in a multi-purpose center. Our school district built a beautiful multi-million dollar complex for training and development. It has a beautiful ballroom where they have banquets, so we have rented out the ballroom for our worship and the adjoining rooms for our life groups. 

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Q: What was it like to try and transfer the look and feel of the original Champion Forest ministry location to this newer location? What were some of the lessons you learned as you tried to transfer? 

A: First, we only had a 5-month preparation stage. When we said “let’s launch a north campus,” it was the Tuesday after Easter and then we launched on September 15th. There was a lot of work to do. In fact, when we dealt with Portable Church Industries, they said that if we were going to pull it off in five months, everything would have to fall right into place and it would be a miracle to do it in such a short time-frame. So, the logistics were one of our issues but we worked hard to overcome this obstacle.

Second, the question was raised: Who will go? We asked God to give us 300 people who would be willing to go north, and God did. A year later, we had 552 people attend our north campus. 

More volunteer tips: The Secret to Excellence and Volunteer Retention in Portable Churches

Q: Let’s just pause on that, because that’s a critical piece of this: finding volunteers and people to serve to go to a new location. What did that process look like for you? How did you go about asking people, getting their commitments, and then actually getting them plugged into the north campus?

A: It started with our senior pastor, then our executive team processing the concept and sharing the idea with our staff, helping everyone see the big picture of going multisite to reach more people. It also took educating our team on the multisite strategy because it was new to us. It started there and then it went into the congregation, where we started helping them dream about the concept of going multisite. We had videos explaining the vision and the process, and we asked the question: “Is God calling you to go north?”

Then, we had two informational meetings that were open for anyone to attend. In these meetings, we provided information about the north campus. We answered questions like:

  • What would it be like if my family made the commitment to go north? 
  • What would change? 
  • How would we stay connected to the main campus? 

Portable Church Industries also came in and held a training day, one week before we launched. 

First, we did a soft launch and then a few weeks later we did a public launch. By that time, we had everything well-oiled and well grouped, and it was a great experience. I was so thrilled to see how God worked through the launch of our north campus. 

Q: Are you guys thinking about more campuses down the road? Are you going east, west, and south, too? 

A: You know what, now that we’ve opened the door to multisite, we believe it is such a dynamic strategy and it’s good stewardship to reach people for Christ. We are committed to continuing the process. What is so amazing about this is that once we had said, “Yes Lord, we’re in,” and we prepared for and executed the launch, just a few months later God gave us another campus north of our north campus. It is primarily a Hispanic campus in Conroe, Texas, about 30 minutes from our main campus. They are now our third campus. As I said earlier, we are all one church, in three locations, and in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, and American Sign Language. 

What one pastor said after going multisite in 5 months: Now that we’ve opened the door to multisite, it is such a dynamic strategy and it’s good stewardship to reach people for Christ. Read more on the PCI website. Click To Tweet

Q: Now that it’s a year after your first multisite launch, what have you learned about keeping volunteers engaged, fired up, excited, and to be a part of the north campus? People like being part of a launch but then a year in, it can look a little different. 

A: Well, the beauty of a portable church is the people who God raises up know that they are going to a portable church. They don’t fully know what this means but they know it is going to be different and that they need to stay flexible. They know that they are going to need to set up and help tear down. This creates a culture that communicates: “I’m here to serve.” 

It’s a happy place and it’s a happening place because so many people are serving. This has created a culture where when you come to the north campus, you know that it’s a serving church. We are constantly telling people that there are places available to join our various crews. 

To encourage a serving culture in your church, create a warm, engaging, and inviting environment where people are reminded that there are plenty of opportunities for them to serve. Click To Tweet

What really excites me about multisite is something I’ve noticed after 28 years of preaching: It has raised people from the fringes and people who have never served the local church.  This has probably been the most inspiring experience related to multisite.

MORE TO LEARN ABOUT THE MULTISITE CHURCH EXPERIENCE

There is a wealth of knowledge out there if you want to learn more about going multisite, from books to podcasts, to online courses. After reading all of the insightful information above, you’re probably wanting to learn more. Simply head to our Blog or Resource Library and dive in. 

Are you preparing to go multisite? We can help. Book a call with one of our Account Managers and find out how we can help your multisite church get up and running. 

What’s your best tip for getting teams on board for a multisite church experience?