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3 Critical Questions to Ask When Going Multi-Site

October 16, 2019 jill Blog
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By Doug Foltz

Most multi-site churches begin with the dream by a visionary leader. Sitting with these leaders and hearing the dream is an energizing experience.

I remember a couple of years ago sitting with Danny Schaffner, lead pastor of First Christian Church in Champaign, Illinois.

His dream was big. The church had grown into a regional hub. People from all surrounding counties were attending First, but Danny knew that to really reach lost people, it would take the church going into the surrounding communities with new locations.

It’s a dream that many lead pastors have had. Dreaming however is just one part of the equation. To really have breakthrough and experience growth through multi-site, the dream needs execution.

In their book, “On the Verge,” Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson write:

“How many times have you heard a leader say something about needing to get people out of the church’s four walls and into the community? While having these thoughts are good signs that the missional imagination is at work, imagination isn’t enough. Imagination is only the first step. We have to take our churches through the shift process that begins with imagination and results in innovation. And remember, the equation that gets us innovation is: imagination x implementation = innovation.”

Most church leaders have the imagination required to go multi-site. What they lack is the implementation.

Even if they have systems and strategic thinkers on staff, those team members most likely don’t have multi-site experience. That’s where project management comes in.

Project management is the implementation side of the equation. The project manager works directly with the campus to develop and execute a plan to start a new campus.

At the beginning of the process, the project manager will help the leadership team to answer a few critical questions:

  1. Who?

Who will the new church reach? The current congregation will be analyzed to determine who the church currently reaches well and where those people currently live. This information is then compared to target communities to determine the best fit for the new location.

  1. How?

This is a question of model. There are so many different ways to be a multi-site church. Becoming a multi-site church is a radical change. It is entirely possible to have multiple locations and not really have the DNA of a multi-site church. Churches who experience this typically will shrink the number of locations over time. Answering this question is critical for the long-term viability of the church’s multi-site dream.

  1. How Much?

What is it going to cost to pull this off? The project manager will work with the leadership of the church to determine an appropriate project budget.

Once these questions are answered and a campus pastor is identified, the project manager will work with the campus pastor to create a detailed launch plan and set of key vitals to track the health and development of the project.

Think of key vitals like key performance indicators. They help everyone involved in the project to understand what’s most important and how the project is doing based on agreed upon goals.

The project manager meets weekly with the campus pastor to help them determine what are the most critical next steps in launch plan.

The project manager even does many of the more administration steps in the launch plan to allow the campus pastor more time to build their team and do outreach in the community.

Doug Foltz is director of project management for Stadia Church Planting, whose mission is to plant churches that intentionally care for children,