Growing churches have several options available to them as they consider how to expand (as we have discussed here). One of these options is to add additional services at other worship venues through a multi or microsite approach. Typically, these services have live worship, a campus pastor, and the preaching comes either via video or the pastor from the main campus is able to be there and preach live. It is a great way to move forward, but starting a new campus comes with some pros and cons that every church should consider before launching a new one.
- Provides convenience. People will only drive so far to church. Even if you have a committed person that will make the drive, will their friends and family they would like to invite also make the commute? Putting a campus in their neighborhood makes coming easier. As Josh Hunt says about multiple worship options it “allows us to overcome the number-one obstacles facing the people we are trying to reach: inconvenience.”
- Allows for Variety. Each satellite campus should retain the first campuses’ DNA, but a new campus allows for a bit of variety in feel. It should be allowed to be a bit different to match the community it is in. This allows the church to reach new people as ”It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. The more hooks you cast in the water, and the more varied the bait, the more fish you will catch” (Hunt).
- Allows us to Reach Areas We Typically Wouldn’t. Starting a new campus can be expensive and volunteer intensive, but it doesn’t have to be. A few people who have a heart for a new area, a worship team, and a projector with a recorded sermon can reach some areas that typically may not have a church. Think of prisons, nursing homes, rural areas.
- Cheaper & Easier to Scale. It is cheaper to start a new campus in a rented facility than it is to build new construction. Because it can be done with less cost, adding additional sites is an easier model to scale than building buildings.
- Develops Leaders & Allows for More People to be Involved. To have an additional service you need additional ushers, greeters, children’s workers, etc. Some people may be intimidated to step up and serve in a large church, but a smaller campus allows them to serve without being intimidated by the church size.
- Multisite is More Team Oriented. The lead pastor can’t be the campus pastor as well. It takes a team of shepherds to pull off a multisite approach.
- Easier for Main Preacher. The senior pastor doesn’t have to preach every time either because the sermon is played via video or because there is a team of preachers. Hunt shares, “It is no longer physically, emotionally, or spiritually possible for one individual to teach five times a week, every week, week in and week out.”
- More Biblical. “I believe we can conclude that the idea of a plurality of preaching pastors, though foreign to the practice of most modern churches, clearly determined the pattern of the early church….One of the advantages of the multi-congregation approach is the opportunity to hear Paul and Cephas and Apollos” (Hunt).
- Accountability. Rather than an independent church plant that is loosely tied to the mother church, most often satellite campuses are more accountable.
- Focuses Church on Unchurched. It makes people ask the question “okay, now who is going to come?” and focuses them on reaching those who are currently outside of the church. 69% of multisite churches report that they have become more evangelistic as a church as a result of a new campus.
- You Need Volunteers. Getting people to leave the comforts of the main campus is not always easy. It takes someone who can cast vision well.
- Communication issues. Communication gets harder when you are communicating across campuses. It gets exponentially harder when you are communicating across 3, 4, 5 or more campuses.
- Technology Issues. Whether you are talking streaming services or multicampus children’s check-in, most campuses utilize technology.
- Complaints. Just like when you go to two services you’ll hear people complain that they won’t know everyone (Reality check: if your church already has two services or is larger than 75 people they don’t know everyone already anyhow).