If your church is getting serious about using a multisite strategy to reach more people for Christ, one of the first questions you’ll probably ask is, “Where should we start a new campus?” To answer that question I am going to outline three ways churches have picked places and then I’ll tell you our church’s approach.
- Opportunity-Driven. Some churches’ decision on where to start another campus has been driven by opportunities. For example, the Rocky Mountain Vineyard Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, decided to start a campus in nearby Windsor when an exceptional facility became available there. This opportunity presented the question, should we start a campus in this place and as they prayed and talked about it, they concluded, “yes.” They launched the new campus six weeks later. Opportunities come in many forms. Perhaps a church targets a town because they have a large and growing number of members there. Or maybe they are handed a building there by a church or business that is closing.
- Problem-Solving. Another deciding factor has been problem-solving. This is how some of the initial multisite churches began using this strategy. They had problems that could not be solved in traditional ways so out of the box thinking led them to think multisite. For example, Seacoast Church in South Carolina—one of the most well-known multisite churches—only began the multisite journey when they were denied a building permit at their growing original campus. So they began starting new campuses in their town and the surrounding area. They are now thankful that they could not get the building permit, because they discovered that they could grow much faster and reach people they never would have touched using a multicampus approach.
- Leader-Driven. Other churches have used a leader-driven approach. Where do they start new campuses? In locations where they have a passionate leader who is called and committed to a certain town or people.
This later approach has been the strategy of our church—The Vineyard Church of Central Illinois. We have launched four new campuses in the last four years. In each case, we have started these campuses in towns where we had a key leader or couple who was passionate, called, and working hard to start a new faith community in their own town. We did not target a town and then go looking for a leader. We discovered leaders and their calling guided us. The towns were not the most logical in terms of their size or population. They were not the ones where we had the most people. They were the places where we had leaders who were called and willing to learn and do the hard work required to build the teams needed to start a new church, a campus of our larger church. The leader-centric approach is not necessarily the best approach. God directs churches in many different ways. But the leader-centric approach has worked very well for us and it fits the culture of our church. I expect it to be the primary guide for us as we continue to start new campuses.
What questions do you have about choosing the right town or locale for a new campus? If you are doing multisite, what has guided your decision on where to start another campus or campuses? What insights to you have to share?