Establishing and maintaining identity, community and other institutions, concrete and figurative, for the spiritual formation and health of a church body is hard.
Managing a multi-site church requires constant vigilance on these fronts, plus the added challenge of balancing parent ministry inclusion with promotion of the individual campuses' identities as self-contained churches.
So why do it? Every church has its reasons, but perhaps the best is that multi-site responds to the Great Commission and embraces a missional philosophy in a near-perfect sense.
"Multi-site is the trend and continues to show tremendous growth," says Jim Wagner, general manager of the Worship Facilities Conference and Expo (WFX) and publisher of Worship Facilities magazine. "All sorts of churches are considering multi-site, either continuing it, or as a brand new means of accommodating growth."
If launching one or more additional campuses is on the radar for your church, here's a brief look at some areas to consider to help you develop a multi-site plan that can be implemented with confidence.
These topics and more are a part of the Multi-Site Churches Learning Module at WFX this November 18-19 in Nashville.
To Build or Not
"There aren't a lot of churches exploring new construction for their additional campuses," says Wagner.
Choosing to lease or purchase an existing space and then adapt it to church functions is proving to be the preference of multi-site churches, and it's a great decision in terms of timeliness and cost-effectiveness.
One Life Church, which will be studied in one of the WFX module sessions, found and leased vacant big box stores and renovated them for a cost of less than $30 per square foot. The session will share how they did so while also touching on landlord and leasing issues.
"There are also obvious environmental benefits to using an existing footprint, as well as the goodwill from the neighborhood the church is moving into. You're occupying and improving a vacant building that could otherwise detract from their community," says Wagner.
Even if your campuses have live worship and teaching, for the purpose of unity across campuses, live streaming from the main campus will be required at some point.
"What technology do you need to have in place in order for people to feel like it's a real church and not an overflow auditorium?" asks Wagner.
There's no shortage of options when it comes to hardware and software that will get the job done. Consulting with professional integrators will help you arrive at the best one. And, it's definitely worth noting that employing the same gear across campuses will make life much easier for all involved.
Long before you have a building or technology in place, how you will staff your new campus should be settled.
"Will you have live worship, a campus pastor? Will the sermon be a video, live, or live streamed? What about childcare?" asks Wagner.
Facilities management must also be consideredwill you expand the duties of your existing facilities staff or install staff at each campus?
Recruiting volunteers ahead of the launch is important, too. Often, the main or other campuses must provide volunteer support until the new campus can build up momentum.
"Hearing from other churches about how they handled the various challenges of launching new sites is priceless," says Wagner. "Our multi-site churches module will explore the journeys of several churches and share their successes and mistakes. That will provide invaluable insight for churches exploring the idea of going multi-site."
To learn more about WFX and the Multi-site Churches Learning Module, visit www.WFXweb.com.