5 Reasons to Take Longer 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.

When Liquid launched it’s first campus in New Brunswick, NJ we announced it in late fall . . . and then launched out in January.  It was sort of the microwave approach to launching a campus.  Although there are some advantages to the “quick launch” . . . the largest difference in how we are launching the next campus is that we are using a much longer launch time frame.

  • October 2010 – We had our first meeting with core families in the new community to let them know that we were thinking about launching closer to them to help us reach this part of the state.
  • November 2010 – We announced to the entire church that we were launching in Montclair through our Christmas Offering. You can read about this campaign in a previous series of posts. [1] [2] [3]
  • January 2011 – April 2011 – We’ve been hosting “pre-launch” community building events in Montclair.  The goal here is to help our people from the region get to know each other.
  • April 17th, 2011 – We’re hosting a single service for all of Liquid Church in Montclair.  A sort of “we’re coming!” event.
  • June 2011 – We’ll be hosting half a dozen “home meetings” to help our people join a team and plug into the launch.
  • Summer 2011 – We’ll be running “dress rehearsal” Sundays and some local community outreaches.
  • September 11, 2011 – Our grand opening Sunday!

From start to finish it will end up being about a year from the time we announced the launch until we have a fully functional campus in Montclair.  Why the change in the process?  I’m an advocate of taking longer in the “pre-launch” phase . . . here are 5 reasons you should take longer when launching your next campus:

  1. Everyone isn’t an early adopter. If you plan on “hiving” from an existing campus than you have a lot of people that you need to “convince” to join the new location.  Multisite churches are  led and launched by early adopters . . . but the people who will be making this new campus their new home aren’t early adopters.  It takes time for people to make this sort of switch.  This also applies for the “sending campus” . . . they need time to get use to the idea.  (And build up their core!)
  2. You need to plan more. Seriously.  Take the time to plan out your communications approach.  Spend more time working the financial model so it’s all clear.  Have you done an audit of how the last launch went?  What do you need to change?
  3. The best time to raise volunteers and finances is before you launch. Once you start actually hosting services every week the focus will go into that and it becomes harder to find the time, effort and energy needed to cast vision to new volunteers and donors.
  4. Your people need more training. I was just in a meeting yesterday with a core volunteer for our new campus and I was reminded again that people are hungry for more training and development.  Take that time!  Be lavish with how much your equip and motivate this new team!  Take a road trip.  Read some books together.
  5. Community doesn’t happen in a pressure cooker. Friendship is shared experience.  Have your people in the new community had enough experiences together?  When their friends arrive at the new location . . . will they experience just a “big show” or will they a get a sense of community?  You need to take some time with this new community to build up friendships!

How long is a good launch window for campus number three, or four, or five?  Longer.  How long did you take with the last one you launched?  Take longer than that.

Are you a part of a multisite church?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideal launch window! [Leave some comments now!]

On Wednesday we’re going to be looking at some of the financial realities of launching a new campus . . . and some ways that we’re working to reduce our costs for this next launch.

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