4 Language Pitfalls Multisite Church Leaders Need to Avoid!

The language we use as church leaders has the potential to shape the culture of our church because it frames peoples thinking. Often the language we use when we launch a new ministry can set it on an unintended course simply through the way we’ve helped people understand it. Here are some negative language patterns I’ve seen present in multisite churches over the years. Avoid these patterns to give your vision the best chance to thrive!
  • multisiteUs vs. Them // It’s dangerous to start referring to the various campuses of your church as “them” because it’s starts to set up emotional walls and separates the team.
    • Avoid: “They broke some more gear again this weekend.”
    • Alternative: “We continue to have gear breaking at our campus in Springfield.”
  • Mothership, Headquarters, etc. // Don’t treat your original location with extra reverence through some sort of extra special name.  What if you always referred to one of your kids as “The Good Son”?
    • Avoid: “Our next leadership development event is back at the mothership.”
    • Alternative: “The training next month is at our Ritson Road Campus.”
  • North, East, South, West Campus Names //  When people arrive at a new location and find out that this location is the “West Campus of Cool Community Church” there is a subtle message that the real thing is east of here! Also this naming scheme limits the number of campuses … surely you’re not going to have the North North East Campus!
    • Avoid: “Are you going to join us as the West Campus when it launches?”
    • Alternative: “We’d love to have you join the Stoney Creek Campus this fall!”
  • Unnecessarily calling out technology // If you use video to deliver the teaching at your campuses there is no need to always point that out to people.  It would be like 15 years ago standing up and saying “In just a few minutes Pastor Mike is going to use a microphone and stand on a stage with lights.” We’re past the place where you need to call out the technology.
    • Avoid: “Today our teaching is coming in via live video stream from our Chatham Campus.”
    • Alternative: “Pastor Mike is kicking off a brand new series today!”
What do you think? What is some language pitfalls that people need to avoid when talking about multisite?

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  1. As always, great thoughts. I wonder, when it comes to naming campuses, what best practice would be in light of a very centralized multisite philosophy, vs a lot of autonomy at each site. ie how does a name reinforce a sites identity vs the global church identity. I guess in branding terms, what is the primary message suppose to be in the name. Just made me wonder this morning. 🙂

    1. Darren!

      For me … I’m a fan on global names that work in multiple locations. When you visit Starbucks … you don’t say “I’m going to Starbucks North East Edmonton” do you? You’re just glad to be going to a Starbucks location close to you. I think the same is true of “names” of campuses for multisite services … our “guests” should just see the global name … the campus location name distinctions are for leaders and “insiders”.

      That being said … I’m a fan of insider distinction names that cast a big vision of the region you are are attempting to reach. Pick a big name … to cast a vision for reaching a big area!

      Make sense?


        1. Hey, Darren! Great to bump into you on Rich’s blog.

          Great post, Rich. Love the example on calling out technology. Made me laugh. We’ll be sharing this post, as well as the one Andy wrote on Video Worship with our multisite groups. Great stuff!

    1. Hey Sherrie!

      Thanks so much for dropping by!

      I assume that “Bethany Lane” is a place in your community? That makes it tough because when you move to another part of community it might seem a bit strange to transport that name with you.

      Some potential ideas:
      – rebrand the entire church another name that can transcend locations.
      – rename the new campuses after a locality they are heading into. then on all your material you same something like “a campus of Bethany Lane Baptist”
      – just call the new locations “Bethany Lane Baptist” and ignore the fact that it doesn’t fit.

      All three of those strategies I’ve been executed well. It’s a bit of what you think might fit the “change pain threshold” for your community. 😉

      Thanks for leading in the place God has put you!


  2. Hi Rich,
    I worship with Sherrie who posted a few weeks ago. Would you give me your opinion and some resources you might recommend for further research on church name?
    Our current church name is Bethany Lane Baptist Church. Our second campus is one formerly occupied by another church that ceased operations and sought another church to continue there so they are good stewards of the assets. Let’s say the second campus was previously known as ABC Church.
    Should we rename ABC Church? (I believe keeping that name is not recommended, and we assume we do need a new name.)
    If we should rename ABC Church, should it have the same name as our current location or can it have a different name? (I believe from your post above that a global name is necessary, but I would like your opinion.)
    Thanks for any thoughts and resources you can provide!

    ~ Mike

    1. Mike!

      First … thanks so much for dropping by! Sounds like some cool stuff happening at Bethany Lane Baptist.

      I would say that you should rename ABC church. A new name signifies a new future for this church … it’s a quick way to communicate to the community that something new is on it’s way!

      I’m in favor of naming the new campus (formerly known as ABC Church) to the same name as existing church. That will help your people to go to the new location and transfer some of what makes your church to that.

      Of course … Bethany Lane Baptist probably wouldn’t make sense in that new location. You’ll probably need to rename that. There is a precedent for that. I lead a church that when from being called Upper Oaks Community Church to “The Meeting House” … Flamingo Road in Miami changed it’s name to Potential Church.

      Make sense?

      I’m happy to help in whatever way possible. Drop me a line: [email protected]

      Thanks again for dropping by!

      – Rich

  3. Hi, Rich.

    Can you offer any examples of multisites where a location-specific name worked across multiple campuses?


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.