5 Reasons Your Church Shouldn’t Go Multisite

The multisite revolution is the biggest thing to happen to the broader church movement in my almost 20 years of ministry. I’ve personally been involved in the launch of 12 campuses—working on 2 more as we speak!—and I’ve coached a bunch of other leaders through the process. I’ve written a lot on the multisite movement and I’m genuinely a fan of this approach to multiplication. However, you might want to think twice before attempting this approach to multiplication at your church. Avoid going multisite if the following applies to your church:
  • You want to spur growth. // Going multisite takes whatever is presently happening at your church and magnifies it. If your church is in decline, going multisite won’t turn that around … it will probably push it further into decline. Take time to uncover why your church isn’t growing and focus on that before making the step towards multisite. First nail it … then scale it.
  • Empty seats at prime time. // When was the last time your “prime time” service was packed to the roof? A building bursting with people provides the relational dynamics needed when casting vision for launching your services. Years ago, I heard an early multisite pioneer say that if you didn’t have 7 weekend services at your original campus, you shouldn’t go multisite. Although that is extreme, the core idea is correct. If you don’t have full services, it’s difficult to convince people to head to a new location.
  • Fuzziness on why people invite friends. // When launching your first campus, you’ll need to decide what to export to the new location. If there isn’t organizational clarity on what is most important, it will be difficult to make that transition smoothly. It doesn’t matter as much what leaders think needs to be exported—it matters what people in the church think is great about your church. Work hard to replicate that well.
  • Leaders who don’t build systems. // There are some church leaders who look down on documentation and repeatable processes because they see them as less spiritual. Those leaders have a harder time making the transition to multisite because the entire ministry is built on systems. You need people in your leadership who can care for people through structuring a nurturing environment and not just by meeting one on one with people. Leaders need to be able to scale their influence through building a systematic approach to ministry.
  • Ego-driven leaders. // If you are the sort of leader who needs to get credit for everything that happens, don’t go multisite. If you are the sort of leader who needs every team to look to you for direction and answers, multisite is not for you. One of the great paradoxes of multisite is that it is often criticized because it elevates a few leaders over a larger number of communities. My experience is that leaders who thrive in multisite are people who can empower, defer and encourage a wide variety of leaders. They give up control to allow their ministry to multiply. Think hard before you make this step: Are you willing to draw in other leaders and release the ministry over to them?
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on why churches should avoid going multisite! Join the discussion in the comments section below.

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  • 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!
  • Video #3: 5 Dirty Secrets of the Multisite Church Movement. Finally, get an insider’s look at the underbelly of this movement to better inform your leadership as you move forward!
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  1. Rich,
    These are great!I heard a speaker this week say that you should not start a second site if you do not like the first one. Seems obvious,but it does happen. His thoughts were that you do not go Mulisite to grow your church but you go Multisite because of the growth of your church.

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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.