January 11, 2010

Some Thoughts on Multi-Site Ministry

The context for some of my thoughts on multi-site church ministry comes from being an associate pastor at Castleton UMC that currently has 2 campuses located in Indianapolis about 6mi apart. I also had the chance to attend a mini-conference our church hosted this past Saturday for other multi-site UMC's in the area and hear their experiences doing multi-site.

The Pros
-multi-site provides additional space when the main site is full
-multi-site provides a venue for a different style of worship than what takes place on the main campus
-multi-site provides the opportunity to reach more and different people
-multi-site can provide the opportunity for churches that are growing, vibrant and effective to duplicate themselves and their ministry

The Cons
-multi-site can be extremely expensive (ideally look for a space that a current church member owns and will allow the church to use rent/lease free)
-multi-site can stretch church staff extremely thin
-multi-site can cause tension within the main campus congregation because they are not on board with the vision or ministry of the 2nd site
-multi-site can become misguided when the focus becomes a building and not a ministry

Thinking about this a bit more after our mini-conference on Saturday and working at a church that has been multi-site for about 5yrs now I've realized I still have some questions about the best way to make multi-site work. Of course I know there are some great churches that are doing the multi-site thing almost to perfection (Community Christian Church in Chicago or The Village Church in Dallas for example) but I think I'm questioning the process by which most churches become multi-site. It seems to me that the upfront planning and visioning is crucial to a successful launch of a 2nd site especially but also for a 3rd, 4th or 5th as well. One of the big hang-ups for me is the endgame of an additional campus, what is its purpose or goal? The more I wrestle with this the more certain or uncertain I become depending on the specific site. I will be sharing more thoughts on this idea and its relationship with the UMC specifically in an upcoming post.

Care to share your thoughts and/or experiences of multi-site ministry? Are you a church leader with a multi-sites? Do you attend a church that has multiple sites? Do you move between them? Why or why not? I'd love to hear any thoughts on this topic you have to share.


PJ said...

I never realized that it was that big a deal to have a second site. I know that as a member of Sunrise at Castleton UMC, I don't even realize that there is another building. I have been there a handful of times for a small group and that is it. I guess from a member's point of view, does it matter what the other building is doing?
I would assume that the churches should be on the same page as far as mission and what they teach, but why do they need to be on the same page as far as how they teach?
I can see that staffing and funding being a problem. As in our case, I am sure that sunrise brings in a lot less money, probably not in the same proportion that the building costs are less though. What I mean is that Sunrise probably doesn't fully fund itself. But, that shouldn't be a problem either, unless the ratio is soo bad, that it is pointless to have a second campus.

Matt Lipan said...

PJ: thanks for the read and comment.

you bring up some good points. isn't it interesting how the ministry of the two campuses seldom crosses? initially i thought this was a bad thing but it seems like the more i think about it, the less of a problem it seems to me.

i agree with you that the teaching and worship styles can, and possibly should, be different. i think it adds to the uniqueness of each site.

great question about if it matters what the other site is doing...i'm still working through that one.

thanks for being willing to share, looking forward to hearing more from you in the future.