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All About Multisite // Help! Our Campuses Aren’t Growing!!

Welcome back to our monthly All About Multisite podcast! I’m chatting with a group of multisite ninjas and answering your questions about the ins and outs of launching new campuses. Our group is as follows:

Natalie Frisk is our family ministry expert. She is a key leader from The Meeting House. This church has 19 (!) locations and is doing all kinds of great stuff, including a killer kids’ & youth curriculum that they give away for free. Natalie’s a lot of fun and will have so many great insights around leading in a thriving multisite church.

Greg Curtis is our guest connections and assimilation expert. He leads at Eastside Christian Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the country, and literally, is the “go to” source for getting people to stick and stay in the church. (Eastside has assimilated something like 1,500 people in the last 18 months!) His coaching practice around assimilation is amazing.

Ben Stapley is our communications and service programming expert. Ben is one of the most helpful leaders I know. His day job is the Weekend Experience Director at Christ Fellowship in Miami, but he does so much to help other leaders with the “big show” part of church world.

And I, Rich, have been involved with 14 different campus launches over the years and enjoy helping churches that are thinking about multisite.

We are here to answer your questions about running a multisite church and are excited to be here today with our tenth episode.

Open Question: What’s another church you’d love to visit this year? (And why?)

  • Natalie – One would be Life Church simply because I’ve never been and have a bunch a friends that have worked there over the years. And also I’d like to visit Liquid Church because I heard there were some cool guys who worked there that I know. I would love to go visit some churches that are doing an incredible job of leading a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
  • Greg – I think of Connexus because of all kinds of stuff I’d love to see. But you know one church I find myself fantasizing about is this tiny Baptist church near east Los Angeles where I met Jesus and I want to go back.
  • Ben – I would be interested in ones that are crushing the service experience—ones I can think of are Central Church in Vegas, some local churches in Orlando and Menlo Church in Menlo Park.
  • Rich – I’d love to get a chance to visit each one of your churches and spend a weekend with you and see you do your thing.

We’ve just launched a three-part video series that is free and one of these videos is designed to help your church grow. If you want to get this video series, then while you’re listening on your phone open up the messenger app and send the word CHURCHGROWTH to 44222. The first launched yesterday, the next will launch in a couple of days. They are free and designed to help your church grow.

Just one “roundtable” discussion today: HELP! Our campuses aren’t growing! What advice would you give to leaders who are looking to see their campuses reach more people?

Focus on these three parts: Pray, Plan, and Promote. Ben advises that you start with why you want growth, for God’s glory or your own? Communicate the clarity of this glory for God to the staff and congregation, and ask for His blessing. Then take a look at how you are bringing together your staff team in prayer and seeking God’s direction. Discern God’s Will Together by Ruth Haley Barton helps church leadership lean into God and listen to His voice. Natalie says when you do that as a staff team together that sense of prayer and seeking the spirit trickles down, and then it makes other people eager to invite people they know to church, making growth stimulated in that way.

One concern is that only 2% of people who attend church have invited friends last year. If you have one campus that’s not growing while others are, in that environment you need to dig into the invite issue and figure out what’s going on there with the ability to invite friends. Is the leadership inviting friends? Dig in and figure out if people have invited friends in the past year.

As we go into 2019, create a SMART organizational growth goal. Break this goal into campuses, departments, baptisms, first time guests. What do you anticipate? What do you want and what do you need to do accordingly? Have a SMART goal and then break it down upon your particular department and campuses, and communicate this goal to all staff.

Greg reminds us that church growth is more about connection than attraction. We can attract crowds, but if you want to see your church grow, you need to connect people that are already coming and visiting your church. Enhance your community with 1 to 3 new environments where you are connecting people with your key, attractional leaders. Also try opening the assimilation portal a little wider by using the texting option instead of having someone fill out a card. Have section hosts who arrive early and introduce themselves to the new people in the section they tend and invite them to get a free gift at the end of the service. These ways of connection can really jumpstart the growth.

Another tip is to heighten your awareness of kids and youth discipleship. A lot of places do incredible kids and youth programming, but take a look at how you are actually discipling your kids to be lifelong followers of Jesus. Is it something they feel so passionate about that they are inviting their friends and family members? People get excited when kids share what God is doing.

Look into the volunteer core and see where that is. The more people who are serving the church, the more people will talk about it. But if a campus’s volunteer core is shrinking, what that says is the vision of the church isn’t being translated to that campus for some reason. Why aren’t people into that campus? Dig into the volunteer core particularly and see how it benchmarks against others.

Create the initial invitation into the door to build growth by promoting. First start with a series content perspective. Ben likes to flip flop from a felt need—such as a good relationship with spouse—to an unfelt need—suffering makes me more Christ-like—message series. If your church stays with only the felt need or only the unfelt need it might be unhealthy either way, so flip flop between those. Then focus on the service content by keeping it fresh. If you keep it fresh then people come back to see what you’re doing this Sunday.

Be sure to make your physical and digital invitation tools as easy to use as possible. Some people want to pass out the invitations to everyone they know. Other people would rather post something online, so be sure to have the graphics formatted for an Instagram story as well as something like Facebook. Have someone thinking how all ages would want to invite people and what they would want to use in order to do so. Then share the stories of invitation and make it part of your culture through storytelling.

One tool Natalie recommends is Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People by Michael Frost and his idea called BELLS, which is an acronym for Blessed Eat Listen Learn Sent. It gives you some rhythms in your daily life and week for discipleship practices that are really effective and stepping outside of your day to day to really see the mission field.

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Got a question for us? Record it and send it to [email protected]

And remember to text CHURCHGROWTH to 44222 to get the first video for our three-part series on helping your church grow and also be in the queue for the other two as soon as they’re ready.

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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.