Currently there are more than 8,000 churches across America that consider themselves to be multisite churches. These multisite churches vary in denominational affiliation, theological persuasion, size of attendance, physical location and facilities, teaching (video or live), ministries, and style of worship. Churches are proving that there are a lot of ways to do multisite. Many churches are just jumping into the deep end of the pool and figuring this multisite thing out as they go. While you can do that, I’d suggest that a stronger way to launch and continue launching campuses is to nail down your strategy as much as you can ahead of time. While there a lot of models and variations of models to choose from there are 8 keys to developing an effective multisite strategy that I’d encourage you to wrestle with before you launch your first multisite campus.
Are you going to deliver teaching via video or live in person at every campus? Are you only going to hire Campus Pastors who are also good communicators? Will teaching be done by one primary communicator or by a teaching team? Will the same message be preached everywhere or will you allow different teaching on each campus? Early on in the multisite movement video was the way many multisite churches were delivering weekend preaching. That number has shifted and now it’s at about a 50-50 split of multisite churches that use live teaching and churches that use video.
2. Campus Pastor
One of the most important questions you are going to answer before you go multisite is, “Who is going to be the Campus Pastor?” Not only do they need to be a cultural fit, after all culture is transferred through people not systems, but they need to be a leader. They need to be able to turn followers into volunteers. Here’s more on “What Makes a Great Campus Pastor?”
What is your staffing model going to look like at the new campus? What will the Full Time Staff to Church Attender ratio be? What roles are most important to fill at the new campus? What roles could be part-time or contract employees? Are you going to staff with a few people to get it going and add staff as it goes or are you going to staff more robustly for what you plan on attendance begin at the 1-year mark?
If you’ve ever purchased a home before you know that location matters. 55-80% of your church lives within a 15-minute drive time of your existing church. The rest pretty much live within about a 30-minute drive time. That 15-30 minute drive time distance is the sweet spot. Build on an island of strength by identifying a location where you already have a high number of people driving from. Are you going to purchase land and build a ground up facility? Are you going renovate existing space? Are you going to have consistent environmental design standards so each of your facilities look and feel similar?
5. Launch Strategy
How are you going to identify a location, a staff team, a core team of volunteer leaders, build a communication for your church, and marketing strategy for the new community you will be in? It’s better to be strong in one location than weak in two. The average size of a multisite campus is 360 people. When launching a new campus ask yourself, can we send 200-400 people from our original campus and still be strong enough to keep moving forward and not cripple our sending campus?
6. Decision Making
What is going to be identical between all of your campuses and where will each campus have the opportunity to exercise a bit more independence? And better yet, who is going to make that call? What decisions will be made by the Central Service Team and what decisions will be made by the individual Campus Teams?
7. Financial Model
What is the plan for the new campus to be financially viable? How much are you going to plan on investing in each site to get it started and why? Most multisite campuses become financially self-sustaining within 3 years. But how much will it cost to get there? A lot of that is determined by your facility choice, the equipment you resource the new campus with, your staffing strategy, the economy of the new community you’re going into, and how many givers are going to move from the sending campus to the new campus, and of course the growth rate of the new campus.
8. Ministry Model
Before you launch determine how consistent your ministries will be between campuses. Will the new campus do every ministry that the sending or original campus does? If you’re not going to reproduce it than is it something that should be eliminated?