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4 Painful Mistakes Multisite Churches Make Early On

  • Churches have not built a system for launching campuses. They have empowered a leader to launch the first location only to discover that leader has become enamored with his or her current location and won’t move beyond it, demonstrating both an unwillingness to move and to help launch new campuses.
  • The church hasn’t documented the first launch process. Churches should always document that first launch. You want to make it easy to replicate that first successful launch with the goal of launching more campuses more easily over time.
  • Churches often don’t analyze the total dynamics of a launch. A more complex and costly set-up inhibits the church from launching long-term. Pushing toward a simpler set-up—from staff requirements, start-up and ongoing costs—will allow the church to launch more locations down the road.

Recently, I was visiting with some leaders of a multisite church who are now sitting back and wondering, why are we doing multisite? Your church needs to have a clear reason to go multisite, and that reason can’t be “We want to go multisite.” Multisite is a tool by which we accomplish our mission; it’s not the mission itself. Too many churches forget why they exist as a church and get caught up in the process of planning instead.

For me, creating additional sites has been an amazing way to help reach people who don’t attend church. Our church is trying to create churches that unchurched people love to attend, and this approach gives us the opportunity to do that in new, accessible locations.

You and your team need to come back to your reason for doing multisite. If you can’t state clearly why you’re doing this work, it will atrophy. The more locations you develop, the more important it is to ensure that your message is strong and clear. A vision that’s already unclear will only become muddier over time and drag the system down. As your church grows from one location to two or three, the transferring of the vision needs to move from the key leaders to staff and volunteers.

The multisite approach to church leadership is an incredible way to reach more people.

I’m a fan of this movement, and my bias is toward encouraging churches who are growing to explore this approach to church leadership. As this movement matures and enters its second decade of popular understanding, we need to be wary of churches who jump into doing multisite too quickly. I hope that this list of four painful mistakes will help your church avoid some of them as you consider next steps for your community.

This article originally appeared here.