In the early 2000s, I started on my multisite journey. In those days, we were just trying to solve a space problem at our growing church. We had some innovative volunteers at our church who asked if they could take the video that we were using to run an “overflow” and host a small group, 45 minutes away from where we were meeting. It was an incredibly simple idea that flourished to the point where I’ve seen thousands of people connected to the churches I’ve served at through this approach to “doing church.” Since then, I’ve had the honor of being at the forefront of fourteen campus launches. We’ve seen around 1,500 volunteers join our mission and actively work to see those campuses launched. Today, over 9,000 people attend the campuses that sprung from our efforts. It has been a privilege to have a front row seat to this amazing approach to reaching new people with the message of Jesus. Seeing a revolution from the inside gives one a perspective that is second to no other! As incredible as it’s been to see this movement from the inside, there are some lessons I wished I had known before we started this journey. These facts have been birthed over years of launching different sites and I wanted to share them with you here. These tips will help to save you time, effort and energy as you launch new locations! Lean in on these lessons and you are bound to find a few shortcuts to reaching more people in your community. I’m still as much of a “fan” of the multisite church approach today as I was all those years ago when I was setting out to launch with so much hope in the first campus. I really do think that every growing church should consider this approach to multiplication. It’s been breathtaking to see this movement in a few churches grow to the point where one in six churchgoers in North America now attend a multisite church! Wowsers! I would have never predicted that back when we started sharing our video with that small group 45 minutes away!
14 Multisite Church Facts I Wish I Knew Before Getting Started
1. The multisite church launch core group is the critical success factor.
Having watched so many different dynamics associated with these launches up close, I am convinced that the campuses that launch strong have a large and healthy group of volunteers kicking it off. In fact, when I talk with churches who have struggling campuses the problems can often be linked back to a lack of passionate people on the launch team. Moreover, it indicates that the multisite church volunteers weren’t trained enough before the campus started.
2. Yes, you can launch too quickly.
The best volunteers are not early adopters but are, counter-intuitively, the “late majority” folks because they are most likely to stick with the campus long term. The problem with that is that most church leaders are more “innovative” than the people they need to make that campus work. Innovators love the pressure of getting the campus out of the door but the vast majority of multisite church volunteers prefer to take time and need to be “wooed” into the process. Once you win these folks over, they will stick and stay for the long haul. Too many churches rush the launch process and miss the opportunity to build long-term leadership teams.
3. Campus Pastors are hard to find, but are most likely found within.
I wish I could get back all the hours I wasted worrying about where we were going to recruit campus pastors from. There is a clear evidence that campus pastors are being found within the multisite church that is launching the campuses. In fact, 87% of campus pastors are found internally. This means you should get busy considering that fact that your next campus pastor is most likely already attending your church. Instead of looking far afield for them, invest your energy in identifying them and bringing them up.
4. It’s not about video-driven campuses.
Too many times people assume that all multisite churches are just pumping video from one campus to others. However, what we’re seeing is the majority of multisite churches are doing some combination of both local live and centralized video teaching.