by Aaron Earls
“Learn as much as you can from others who have done it well.”
That’s the advice Rick Langston, lead pastor of strategic development at The Summit Church, a multisite congregation in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, would give to those thinking about launching an additional campus.
Suzanne Swift, the public relations director at NewSpring, says they would tell pastors and churches to be sure God is leading in the move. “It’s tempting to look at the success of other multisite churches and try to do what they are doing,” she says, “but it’s essential to clearly know God has called you to be a multisite church.”
NewSpring Church has grown from a small group meeting on a college campus to one of the largest churches in the nation with nine campuses across South Carolina and more in the works.
Swift also warns against “launching a campus in a place outside your sphere of influence.” She says it is much easier to care about and reach people “if our campuses are in areas where we have influence.”
As far as selecting a location, Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv, says they have tried virtually every possibility and “each option has different advantages when it comes to speed, efficiency, flexibility, and costs.”
For those looking to use a portable set-up, he says it can be “faster and cheaper in the short run, but there’s more required of your staff, and you have less flexibility in the size and layout of the facility.”
Renovating an existing building is faster than building from scratch, but Gruenewald says there are zoning issues that must be worked out. And while the cost is higher than portable, “there’s less time investment every week to set up and tear down.”
When buying land and building a facility there are more time and money commitments, he says, but you can design it to meet your needs.
Having more information about multisite challenges and opportunities helps those making the decision. That’s why Warren Bird, author of and contributor to several books on multisite churches and director of research for Leadership Network, believes research into multisite churches is so important.
“It can show them the lay of the land,” he says. “It can help them be realistic about the path ahead, from finances to how far apart to place their campuses. It can guide them to avoid potholes or detours by learning from others. It can give them courage and confidence as they prayerfully experiment with what to them is perhaps a new way of making more and better disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net.