All About Multisitemultisite

All About Multisite: New Service or New Campus? Explaining Matrix Leadership Model

Welcome back to our new podcast all about multisite! 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 sixth episode.

Opening Question: What was a highlight from summer?

  • Natalie – My daughter had an awesome week at Camp Mini-Yo-We and then we traveled to a lot as a family. It was great to travel and relax a bit.
  • Greg – I came back from a Sabbatical in Italy and went to San Francisco. I took my adult kids on a National Park tour and then hung out at the beach.
  • Ben – Professionally I transitioned in positions. I used to be the Creative Arts Pastor at Liquid Church in New Jersey. But just recently I came on board as the Weekend Experience Director at Christ Fellowship in Miami.

Q1: When do you know it’s time to go multisite, rather than adding another service?

Multisite isn’t a growth strategy, it’s a multiplication strategy. Going multisite won’t kickstart your church to grow, but if your church is growing, it’s a way to take that growth and multiply it into new areas. So what factors need to be present for you to launch a new campus?

Natalie recommends that you think about the economic point of view. A lot of the costs can be easily minimized and measured in launching a second service at the same site rather than launching a second campus. In kids’ ministry, Natalie thinks about all of the classroom supplies, the volunteers and investment needed for new classrooms and youth groups, youth activities, and so on. If parking is an issue at your campus, one alternative would be moving your original campus instead of launching a second site.

When asked, “Should I add another service or another site?” Ben says the answer is yes. “If your church is growing don’t you as a leader be the bottleneck because you have a small vision; release it as much as you can.” Start with a big vision. Maximize your current space before you look to launch another campus. The top three bottlenecks for service growth are parking space, auditorium space, and kid space. Parking is tough, but the way that they got around it at the Liquid Church broadcast campus where Ben previously worked was by offering a shuttle service with one of the local businesses. They offered the business use of their auditorium if they could use the business’s parking lot for their shuttle service on Sunday mornings.

When the cost of expanding capacity at a service is greater than the cost of launching a campus, then launch a campus. Greg recommends looking at the costs of property in your area and the building codes and construction costs as well. Compare the two and see which one would cost less. Launching an entirely new campus may cost less than expanding or remodeling the current campus based on building codes in your area.

From an assimilation standpoint, make sure you launch your campus or service only when you have the place, program and process for placement ready. The average church assimilates 1 out of 19 guests. When you launch a new site, you want to have your assimilation strategy fully expressed at the kick off, even for the practice services. Those early weeks will be your biggest numbers for a full season, so why loose 3 out of 4 visitors because you’re not prepared? You want the assimilation strategy fully ready so you can be collecting those guest cards and heavily promoting whatever guest program that you’ll be sending them to.

Q2: Can you explain to people how your “central team” vs. “campus teams” interact with each other? Explain it to us as if you are talking to a team member in a campus for the first time. Help us understand how to clarify the “matrix model” in a way that is transportable and easy to understand.

Central has systems and content, while the campus has relationships with people. Central creates the framework so that the campus doesn’t have to. Natalie’s role as a curriculum pastor works on the central side, with her major tasks to provide content for all of the locations, provide the support for questions people may have, and then find out what works and what doesn’t. Then feedback is a huge part of both the central and campus teams. Use the feedback to get a big picture of what is going on and utilize that to develop what works for both groups to create unity and congruency.

In launching several multisites, Greg has learned that by the time you get to the fifth campus you need a unique central team. This central team comes on as a dotted line relationship to support and help launch the systems at the new campus. Set up campus pastor or campus assimilation director meetings with the central assimilation team member prior to the launch and then continue monthly meetings with that group. Explain all of the systems and content which is in place, take on the role of a coach and hold them accountable to making sure that these systems are being executed.

Central teams create content and systems during the week which campuses put into action on Sunday. Another way to say it is central creates an experience and campuses execute the experience. Ben uses the analogy where central builds a car but the campus drives it. Campus pastors will often have a solid line to leaders on their site, such as the worship leader or student pastor, and then central staff will have a dotted line to those people. But the reverse is also possible, where central has the oversight of the campus area leaders and the campus pastor has dotted line influence over the people. In areas where specific areas of expertise is required, those central solid line connections may work better. A campus pastor may not know if the bands are in tune, but the central worship pastor would because he or she has the expertise in that area. Also, central having the solid line and campus pastors having the dotted line allows the campus pastors to have more time for relationships with their congregation.

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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.