Tag Archive - launch

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7 Questions to Help your Church Determine the Location of your Next Multisite Campus

The multisite movement isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, the last statistics I saw indicated that only 12 of the 100 of the largest churches in America are not multisite churches. What was once a band aid solution that growing churches used to create space for outgrowing their facilities has now turned into a mainstream method to deliver growth to new locations.

If you church is thinking about launching a new multisite location in the next 18 months I’d encourage you to seriously think and talk through the following 7 questions with your Sr. Leadership Team to help you determine the next right location.

#1 Do we already have people attending our church that live in that new location?

You plant new churches where you don’t have people attending your church but you start new campuses where you already have people attending your church. Launching strong means “going where you are.” I know it may sound counterintuitive but it works. Start by mapping out where your current attenders live and identify pockets of greater density as potential areas to begin new campuses.

#2 Are there people in that new location already engaged in our mission?

Beyond attendance and “brand recognition,” do you have people in that area who are “all in” with you? People who will transfer your culture to the next location and who can lead not just attend? A great place to start is to determine who lives in that area that is already in a small group, they’re financially contributing to the church, they’re on a volunteer team, or they’re leading other volunteers.

#3 Is the new location 20-30 minutes from our existing location?

This is still the sweet spot nationally on drive time between campuses. Obviously, there are variations between urban, suburban and rural communities. There are also emotional barriers at play with drive times. Mountains, lakes, rivers, rail road tracks, highways and the like can all be mental barriers in communities to people attending a new campus or driving to a location…and those just may be a reason to put a new campus on the other side of that barrier.

#4 Does the location reflect who we are trying to reach?

All churches idealistically want to reach all people, I understand that sentiment. But your church is naturally built by intention or neglect to reach a certain kind of person. Your style and approach to ministry is designed to work with certain people and not with others. Don’t fight it. It’s a biblical approach. It’s called contextualization and it’s what the Apostle Paul did in the early stages of the Church.

#5 Are there available facilities with the right parking and seating capacities that are also in the right location?

It still holds true. Location, location, location…just ask any realtor. Does the location you’re considering meet your seating, kids space, and parking needs? Are you going to buy land and build ground up? Is it a popular area that has a lot of drive by traffic? Is it an area that people drive to or drive from?

#6 Are there already churches with a similar mission and style in the new area we’re looking at?

Other churches aren’t the enemy. The enemy (Satan) is the enemy. We are not in competition with other churches. If there is another church like you in that area and the population density wouldn’t work for more churches like that, then move on to another location.

#7 Is the potential location experiencing growth or development?

Are new people moving to the area? Is the area growing and experiencing new development? New people get involved in new churches and take new steps. New is a huge potential for success. 

Need help with your multisite model or expansion? The Unstuck Group has a proven process to help you go multisite for the first time or develop your multisite model for future expansion! Follow this link to start a conversation!


Posted in Leadership

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8 Keys to Defining your Multisite Strategy

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.

1. Teaching

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?”

3. Staffing

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?

4. Facilities

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?


Posted in Leadership

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How to Choose your Next Multisite Location

Thinking about going multisite? Is your church already multisite and trying to determine your next location? At the Unstuck Group we help Multisite Churches build effective strategies and actionable plans to lead into the future. This past week we had a quick email conversation about helping churches determine their next location. I thought I’d give you a bit of a sneak peak into some of those thoughts.

1. Go Where You Already Are

Do you already have people in that new community making the drive to one of your current locations? Do you already have a solid base and core group to start with? The ideal distance between campuses is somewhere between a 15-30 minute drive time.

2. Stay in a Culture that fits You

Is the new community similar to the one you’re already in? Are you going to have to make significant changes to your core strategies, ministries and style of presentation? If so, you may not want to try and break into that new market. If that new area requires making significant changes to who you are then you may be better off planting a church there instead of a multisite campus.

3. Location, Location, Location

Ever try and find a church that was tucked away in a neighborhood that was off the beaten path, difficult to find, and no one ever drove by it? Simply put, location matters. Is the location strategic?

4. Facility Fit

Space tells us how to feel and behave; it really matters (it’s why God was so detailed when He gave instructions about the temple in the O.T.). Does the facility fit you? Does it look and feel like you? Or can it be renovated to reflect your culture? Practically speaking, does it have enough parking, space for kids, and space for your style of weekend worship services?

5. Financial Stewardship

Does the location make sense financially? Does it fit your financial model? No, the church isn’t a business, and we’re not in this for a strong bottom line or for shareholders. We’re doing this so that more people will know Jesus. There’s much more at stake than money, eternity is at stake for many people. That’s all the more reason that this decision should make financial sense, because there’s more than money at stake.


Posted in Leadership

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10 Keys to Making Church Mergers Work

Church mergers are becoming more commonplace, and for a lot of reasons it’s a movement that I believe we’ll see more of in the future. In fact Sun Valley Community Church, the church I have the pleasure of serving at, has experience beginning two new campuses through mergers in the last couple of years.

There are a lot of things that can go right…and wrong in a church merger. But if your church is considering a merger in the future make sure the Sr. Leadership Teams from both churches consider and discuss the following 10 potential deal breakers, and get on the same page before bringing the idea to your individual churches.

1. Doctrine

Is there theological alignment between the two churches? Do they share the same views on potentially contentious issues such as sign gifts, drinking alcohol, divorce, or the role of women in ministry? What do they both believe about the Bible, baptism, salvation, and other theological issues?

2. Culture

This is a step further than just addressing mission, vision, and values. Many churches go into a merger idealistically thinking that they will merge their cultures. This very rarely works out. While it’s possible to build on strengths and adopt best practices from both churches one culture will and should overtake the other if it’s truly going to become one church. Is the culture of each church similar or does one need to “wash over” the other one? How is that going to happen?

3. Staffing

What is your strategy to merge the staff of the two churches? Is there redundancy in staffing between the two churches? If both churches have a Sr. Pastor what will happen to the Sr. Pastor of the joining church? Are the pay and benefit structures comparable between the two churches or are there major adjustments that need to be made? What severance packages need to be built for staff that may not have a job as a result of the merger?

4. Governance

How similar are the two churches form of church governance? Are they staff led or board led? Will Board Members of the joining church serve on the existing Board? What does the congregation vote on and not vote on? Is each church a denominational church or non-denominational church? What committees are in place at each church if any?

5. Budget

Is the budget from each church similar? Does each church design the same percentage of their budget to go towards staffing, missions, ministry, weekend services, facilities, and administration? What about debt? What is the cash position of each church?

6. Ministries

Are the functional ministries of each church similar? Which ministries are considered “untouchable” at each church and why? Which ministries will be replicated at both churches and which ones won’t? Which ministries will you stop doing after the merger and how will you close those ministries down? What strengths and best practices at each individual church need to be adopted and built on after the merger?

7. Preaching

Who will be the primary communicator of this new church after the two churches merge to become one? Will the teaching be the same or different on each campus or location of this new church after the merger? Will you deliver teaching in the weekend services live or via video?

8. Leading the Congregation

Logistics are where most people go to when it comes to the conversation about church mergers. “How are we going to do this?” But one of the most overlooked and perhaps most important issues is leading each congregation through the merger. How will the Sr. Pastor and Sr. Leadership Team of the leading church build trust with the congregation of the joining church? Will they preach over there multiple times, will you conduct town hall or “ask anything” meetings with Sr. Leaders? Will you provide a written set of FAQ’s for each church? How will you communicate with each church so they know what to expect through this process? How will you gain their buy-in?

9. Vote

How will this decision to merge actually be made and ultimately who makes the decision? What do the by-laws of each individual church require? If a vote needs to take place by each congregation, how will you conduct the vote? What is the lowest percentage of a positive vote that needs to happen at each church for the merger to take place?

10. Launch

Another often-overlooked area to consider is the launch phase. Once the merger is voted on, how will you launch and “grand open” this newly merged church? Will one church adopt new signage and branding? Will both churches go through a “re-branding” to a new “brand” that each church will adopt? Will one church shut down to be physically renovated to add technology and interior design features to look like the other church and then reopened? How will you market to and let the community know about this new grand opening?

If you’re interested in learning more about church mergers I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of Better Together by my friends Warren Bird and Jim Tomberlin.


Posted in Leadership