Churches should grow (as we have talked about here) and when they do they should prayerfully consider when it is time to expand (as we have talked about here). Once a church has made the decision to enlarge there are several options available to them to increase their capacity. These might include:
A Building Program – This is perhaps the most traditional method to create space for new people. When sanctuary, parking lot or children’s ministry space is running low, a church builds a larger building to expand capacity at the church.
Additional Services – A church may decide to add additional services at the church. If adding a second or third service, the church may decide to continue having only one main speaker. Churches that are adding a fourth, fifth or even more services may decide to show a recorded sermon or use a preaching team. This is due to the fact that they realize one preacher can only emotionally and physically speak so many times in one week over an extended period of time.
Multi-site Campus – A multi-site church is one church that meets in at least two different locations. Multi-site churches can vary greatly. Geoff Surratt in The Multi-site Church Revolution: Being One Church in Many Locations identifies five different models of multi-site churches. These options include everything from recorded sermons to live preaching, from building large new sanctuaries in other locations to partnering with a local YMCA to host a service, from campuses that look and feel very similar to the main campus to some that look very different. The bottom line is that a multi-site church is one church in multiple worship locations, even if those worship locations are located on the same plot of land.
Microsite Campuses – Microsite is similar to multi-site but takes things even smaller. Rather than a large corporate gathering of people a microsite campus is a smaller version of a multi-site campus that perhaps meets in a home, office building, or other location. Aaron Earls states, “Instead of securing a larger temporary location such as a school or movie theater, for a microsite, a church identifies an area of the city or community it wants to reach and often begins meeting in the home of a member there…Those microsites are one of the ways in which larger churches are trying to recapture the essence of being small.” These services may be not be a large group setting, but they are the primary service a church attendee goes to for the week.
Church Plant – One way to reach new communities, and potentially alleviate some of the space issues a church is facing, is to plant another church by sending out current members to a new community. Oftentimes a church will send 50, 100, 200 or more people out from the mother church to plant a church in another area.
Building programs, additional services, multi or microsite campuses and church plants are all viable options available to a growing church. Which method/s a church uses to expand its capacity should depend on a number of factors including budget, culture, mission and so much more. Once a church decides the direction it is going they still have a lot of work to do, as each of these methods has a myriad of possibilities as to what it may look like. For example, a church that is deciding to add additional services has to answer the question of whether that service will be on Sunday morning like the first service or at an alternate time of the week like Saturday night. They also need to decide if the service is going to be the same worship style as the existing service or entirely different. They need to decide whether it is going to be live preaching or a recorded sermon. There are literally dozens of possibilities of what this new endeavor may look like, but they all increase the capacity of the church.
What about your church? If it is time to expand, what might this expansion look like?