4 Mindsets Holding Back Your Multisite Church Multiplication

The vast majority of multisite churches don’t get beyond 3 locations. According to Leadership Network‘s study of multisite churches, 85% have 3 or fewer total locations. Why do so many get stuck at this number? What’s holding them back from fully leveraging this approach to ministry? I believe part of the problem is the way we think about our ministry. Here are 4 mindsets that I’ve seen in church leaders whose churches haven’t moved beyond just a few locations:
  • Us vs. Them // It’s dangerous to start referring to the various campuses of your church as “them” because it sets up emotional walls and separates the team. Instead of seeing all of the locations as part of the church, it’s easy to slip into a subtle competitive mode that erodes the church’s ability to extend its ministry. Language can shape reality … watch how you talk about your locations!
  • NIMBY! // To move beyond a few locations, you need to hive off volunteers, donors and energy from other campuses. If the leaders in your locations have a “Not In My Back Yard!” mindset, it will hinder your ability to expand. Celebrate leaders who seek ways to expand and multiply. Reward locations that actively hand over volunteers. To reach your community and truly switch to a “multiplication mode,” each location needs to release resources.
  • We’re Snowflakes! // Every town thinks they are really special. They believe their cultural milieu is different from neighboring communities. There can even be a sense of superiority that sneaks in. Of course, each of our communities have Starbucks and McDonalds … people watch Netflix and CNN … and we’re all looking forward to the next Star Wars movie. The reality is that regional communities have more in common than they think they do. Don’t allow local nuances to convince you not to move into new locations within your area. Look to the dominant cultural trends in your region and use those as a bridge to the message of your church!
  • Work 10% Harder // When a church launches its first extension campus, the staff and leaders are typically asked to work a little harder. The music team is asked to provide more oversight to the new location or the kids people are told to visit once a month to make sure it’s like the original location. You can only stretch your leaders so far … this strategy works for the first location but it fails once you get beyond a few campuses. You need to start shifting toward a central support team to help aid expansion if you hope to get beyond 3 locations. You can’t just keep asking the same people to “work a little harder”!

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Is your church thinking about launching new multisite campuses? Have you already launched a campus or two but are stuck getting the next locations launched? Are you ready to take the next steps in your multisite expansion but aren’t sure where to start? I’m releasing a FREE three-part video series designed to help your church reach more people through multisite church expansion. The lessons in this series come from my practical experience being in the driver’s seat for 13 launches and from helping many other churches like yours! Here is what we’ll be covering in the free video series:
  • Video #1: The Biggest Mistake Churches Make When Launching Campuses. Build an approach to launching locations that avoids this mistake, and your church will scale up to reach more people!
  • Video #2: Keys to Picking a Great Location for Your Next Campus. Apply the lessons in this video and you’ll find effective locations that will aid your church’s growth for years to come!
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    1. Been really enjoying the articles here Rich!

      I did jump over to read Dr. Martens’ impassioned argument on LinkedIn against multisite churches. The funny thing is, he provided even lessfactual back up to his argument than what he claimed you did (or didn’t…you know what I mean.. haha). He assumed the absolute worst about megachurches and multi-sites. I’m sure some are shallow and some are personality-driven, but that certainly isn’t an issue limited to those types of churches. As usual, we like to attribute the sins of individuals to a strategy or institution. (I’m not immune to it, I once did the same thing as Dr. Martens but in reverse.) I wonder why he feels the need to virtually picket every multi-site article? Anyway…

      As someone who has experienced both traditional denominational church and an independent church plant – I do see the similarities between the “network” and the “denomination” or the “life group” and the “Sunday school class”. But the good thing is; this re-imagining / re-tooling allows us to prune the extra-Biblical inefficiencies and get back to the heart of the Church in the context of the time and culture.

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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.