Running a multisite church is a unique challenge. On the one hand, you’re not launching a new church from scratch—you’re bringing an established church to a new location. But on the other hand, you’re transplanting that church into a completely new context with different people who have different needs.
You want every campus to feel connected and unified, but you also want to utilize each site’s unique strengths, capitalize on its opportunities, and address its challenges.
Whether you already have several campuses or you’re still trying to decide if going multisite is the right direction for your church, here are seven mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
1. Treating campuses the same
Each campus has the same DNA, but the people who lead, volunteer, attend, and participate in those churches are different. Your family may share the same values and follow the same rules, but you still treat each person within your family as a unique individual. The same goes for churches—because churches are people.
Suppose one campus is led by an introvert and another is led by an extrovert. Transplanting your growth strategies and church culture from one campus to another could force someone to work against their strengths.
2. Overlooking partnership opportunities
One of the best ways for a church to get plugged into a new community is to come alongside an already established organization that shares similar vision and passion. It helps the community associate your church with a nonprofit, church, or ministry they already trust, and it signals that you share their values.
This is also a great way to address aspects of your mission and vision which your new campus isn’t equipped to fulfill on its own yet. Is there a program or ministry that’s core to your church’s DNA but beyond the budget or too far down the road right now? Is there an organization that’s already working to solve a problem or meet a need in your community? Partnerships can fill ministry gaps your newer campuses aren’t equipped to fill yet.
3. Shuffling staff
Finding the right campus pastor is often one of the hardest parts of the church-planting process. So it’s understandable when multisite churches want to put their best foot forward and bring senior staff to the new challenges that come with a new campus. This might feel like the best way to ensure that your new campus thrives, but it can create significant holes in the leadership of your established campuses.
You want your staff in the areas where they’re most effective and in the roles they feel called to be. If a senior staff member feels called to play a bigger part in one of your newer campuses, and everyone else agrees, great. But if not, trust that someone out there is being called to these roles.
4. Bringing problems from one campus to another
In a lot of ways, your main campus provides valuable scaffolding that allows your other sites to hit the ground running and replicate your success in new communities. But what happens when a program, ministry, or system is struggling at your main campus? In their effort to be an extension of the main campus, your newer sites may wind up with the same problems.
Before you use a ministry or program as a model, make sure you take the time to work through the challenges that model may be creating right now. With a new campus, you may find that it’s easier to solve these problems because it’s less disruptive to try something new right off the bat than it is to make big changes to an existing ministry or program.
5. Using a launch team that’s too small
The more people you have on your launch team, the easier it is for your new campus to gain momentum. There are more people to invite friends, family, and community members. There are more volunteers to facilitate services and key ministries that promote growth. More people to lead small groups. And more people to financially support your ministry and fund projects. You don’t need to launch a new campus with a staff as big as your main campus, but you do need a team with enough members to establish a real, effective community.
6. Waiting for “the perfect moment” to launch
A lot depends on having a successful launch, so it’s understandable why a lot of churches hesitate before taking the leap and sending a team. But even an imperfect launch gives your church a foothold in a new community, and you can’t afford to wait for “the perfect time” to launch—because it won’t come. There will always be reasons why you could wait another year to launch your new campus. Do what you can to prepare, plan, and pray. But at some point, you’ve just got to say yes to what God is calling your church to do.
7. Creating separate church apps
No matter how many campuses you have, you want your church to feel like one body. Unfortunately, a lot of churches invest in tools that don’t support the functionality multisite churches need. While you’re one church, logistically, you’ll need separate giving funds, events, push notifications, content, branding, and administrators for each campus. So a lot of multisite churches wind up getting separate apps to facilitate digital ministry at each campus. This can make every team feel like an island, especially if they’re all dealing with different vendors, and it creates disconnected experiences for your congregation.
At Pushpay, we support multisite churches by equipping you to create a cohesive experience while also meeting the needs of each campus. Every site gets its own admin and can create its own funds, notifications, branding, and content. It’s truly a digital reflection of how your church operates: one church with multiple communities.
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