4 Areas to Cut Costs when Launching Your Next Campus

We are launching our third campus here at Liquid Church this fall in Montclair, NJ. [Want to learn more? Watch this video.] This will be the 9th campus I’ve worked directly in launching.  (Plus I’ve had influence on more through my advisory role with Multisite Solutions.) This week we are looking at the things we are changing in our approach to launching this next campus.

The less money you spend on launching your next campus . . . the faster you can get to launching the one after that. We’re trying to build a movement!  Momentum and expansion are key.  Walking the financial tightrope during the launch phase is critical!

One of the areas we are making changes for the launch of our Montclair campus is we are reducing the cost structure without compromising our guests experience.  Here are four areas that we are keeping an eye on for this launch.

Weekend Service Location

  • For this campus we are looking for a great weekend service location with over 500 seats, support spaces for family ministry, good working relationship with the vendor, easy to get to and simple parking.  Up until now we’ve been in high end hotel chains . . . but there isn’t a hotel like that in Montclair so we are having to think a new thought and figure out how to get into a less expensive location for meeting.
  • Environment is important . . . where you meet does make a difference to the friends of your people . . . but often you can overcome some facility challenges through innovation and creativity rather than just paying the big bucks.
  • Any and every rentable space that could handle your new campus should be considered. Try to find partnerships with organizations with complimentary needs.  Being creative at this stage will save your budget in the long run.

Carefully Consider Your Staff Needs

  • In Montclair we are starting with a staff team of more part time staff  rather than full time. We have a stronger central support structure that allows us to hire “implementers” rather than “champions” in many areas.
  • Every ministry area needs staff.  They will express their needs in a clear and compelling manner.  Then you’ll have to have figure out how to do it with less than you’ve done it before.
  • Take a few minutes and read this article by Tony Morgan on the relationship between staffing and volunteers. [Read the article now!]

Technology is a black whole of cost sucking nothingness . . .

  • I love gadgets and geewiz as much as the next guy.  In fact, I think we need to be constantly on the look out for ways to implement new technology to reach more people faster. However, there is always more money you could spend on technology.  Have a budget of $50,000? . . . you can launch a campus for that.  What about $250,000 or $2.5 Million or $10 Million  or $5,000 . . . Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.  The lesson here . . . set a reasonable bar for your next campus and fit what you want (need) under that line.
  • Don’t let the tech guys (or the worship dudes) drive the budget process their definition of “need” is different than your guests.

Promotion and Marketing vs. Inviting Friends

  • How do people find out about your church?  What is the dominant approach? Focus your promotional efforts on that area.
  • Your people at launch will be at their most likely to invite friends . . . that doesn’t cost much (any) to encourage or empower.  It does take leadership and discipleship . . . giving them the right tools and motivation at the right time . . . it engages them personally in the launch and encourages them to reach out to friends!
  • We’re doing radio at Liquid because people actually come to the church when we do it. (Who would have thought!)  Then we are also encouraging, equipping and motivating our people to invite friends.

What about in your context?  What are some areas that you have seen some success in reducing costs so that you can launch more campuses?  I’d love to hear about them! [Join the conversation!]

Next week we’re going to look at three meetings that I employ every week to keep things humming along and focused on execution.  I know . . . exciting . . . people love meetings . . . right?


  1. I’ve seen some horrors when it comes to $ spent on advertising that just didn’t fit the target. One of the most successful I’ve seen is taking part in community events and offering some type of service (such as giving free water bottles away at a local sporting event with your info. on it). Not only do you get the word out, but it’s obviously more effective if your contacts with the group/event already have relationships with people in your church. Social media is another way that is all too often overlooked but with consistency really builds momentum and provides free advertising – it just needs to be target specific to really work.

    Just curious – what type of radio station(s) are you using to advertise?

    1. Hey Suzi!

      At this point we are doing some advertising on Life 99.1. In the past we’ve advertised on the rock station … the name escapes me.

      I agree on the social media front. We’ve been active in building up our Facebook fan base. Almost 1,000 more “friends” then actually attend!

      Go Montclair!


  2. Rich,

    I definitely agree with your 3 areas of cost-saving for campus launches.

    Location: I think more and more it is important to find other organizations that you can partner with. In this economy, the first place most people trim in their personal budgets is charitable giving, so many non-profits out there are suffering financially. So, find one or two, maybe 3-4 other like-minded groups and join together under one roof.
    That also addresses one of my struggles with “church” buildings in that they usually sit empty, largely unused Monday-Friday. Let’s find creative ways to partner up, and share space!

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