Category Archives: Small Towns
- Worship Space. Obviously, you need space for worship services when you launch. We have always started every campus with two services. This helps us maximize space and gives people more options for both worship and serving. We are working in rural Illinois and tend to see about 300 at our launch Sunday which quickly levels off to about 200. Then we grow from there. So we look for room for those numbers.
- Children’s Ministry Space. Almost as important as worship space is ample room for quality children’s ministry and nursery. This is important at any church or campus but it’s especially important Read the rest of this entry
In the last four years our church has launched four new campuses in outlying county seats here in east central Illinois. When we launch a new campus, our goal is to launch strong. We want momentum and a large enough core of people to sustain the key ministries of the church with workers and to give the new campus financial strength. To gather an initial crowd we have used direct mail each time to help us get the word out about the new church we are starting.
If you are launching a new campus or planting a new church, I recommend that you also use (or at least seriously consider!) direct mail. Here are four key principles that have made it work for us.
- Plan far ahead. Doing a direct mail campaign takes work, money, and planning. As soon as you set a launch date you need to put this on your timeline and get the right people involved. We have always used a local direct mail company to help us do our direct mail campaign. This enables us to work face-to-face with experts and has also saved us money over using large, national direct mail companies. Read the rest of this entry
In the last four years our church has launched four new campuses in other cities. Each time we have launched with two Sunday morning services, and I foresee us doing two services every time we start a new campus.
There are three reasons why we do this and why your church should consider this, too.
First, it saves money and space. If you launch a campus with two services, you can get by with renting a smaller space. A primary cost to launching a new campus is renting (or buying) a space and getting it renovated and ready for your purposes. This costs you both money and volunteer hours. By doing two services, you can get by with half the space for both adult worship and children’s ministry, significantly reducing your costs. Besides saving on rental and renovation expenses, you also decrease costs because Read the rest of this entry
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 Read the rest of this entry
Why do multisite church? Why should your church spend the time, effort and expense to launch new campuses in new locations? I want to share three key reasons, based on our church’s experience, why you should seriously consider using a multisite strategy.
We began our multisite journey motivated by two facts. First, we learned that other churches were using multisite as an effective strategy to launch new congregations. Many people who do not want to be senior pastors or church planters have the necessary skills to be great campus pastors. So by adopting a multisite approach a greater pool of leaders is available to launch new Jesus-centered faith communities.
Second, when we surveyed our church members several years ago we discovered that 25% of our worship service attenders were driving more than 20 miles to our weekend services and that those driving these longer distances were significantly less likely to serve in a ministry, to be in a small group, and to invite unchurched friends to our services, groups or activities. This looked very dysfunctional to us because
Our church is launching its sixth campus later this month in Charleston, IL. Since we’ve done this a few times before, other churches are asking us how you launch a new multisite campus. Here’s how we do it.
- Identify a multisite pastor. Our church uses a very leader-centric strategy. We do not start new campuses in the most “logical” places. We do not look at which outlying towns are the largest or where we already have the most members to form a core. We look for a leader with a passion and calling for a certain place and that is where we focus. I’ll write in a future blog on how to identify the right leader. For now, I’ll just give you the key principle. The primary training ground for future campus pastors (and church planters) is leading and multiplying small groups. That is where we look for success and proven leadership.
- Start small groups, gather people, and pray. We want to see a few small groups in a town or area before seriously considering a new campus. We also want to see a team of people who are praying for that community and the emerging work there. Besides regular home groups we often
Our church has been doing multisite (MS) ministry for a little over three years and we now have five campuses. Because we are the MS church with the most number of campuses in our denomination, we field a lot of questions from other churches and leaders. In my discussions with others I’ve realized that people have a lot of misconceptions about doing MS church. In this blog I want to correct ten common myths about doing MS church.
Myth #1: Most multisite churches use video technology every week for the Sunday sermons at their newer campuses. It’s true that a lot of MS churches rely on video technology but Leadership Network’s research shows that only 20% of MS churches use almost all video messages. 46% use almost all in-person preaching at their campuses. And the remaining 34% use a combination of video and in-person methods.
Myth #2: Multisite lowers the quality of a church’s life. Actually, the opposite is true. Our church’s experience reflects the reports of other churches. All indicators of church quality have gone up in our church—the percentage of people serving in ministries, the percentage of people in small groups, the percentage of people coming from unchurch backgrounds, the reported levels of satisfaction with worship, children’s and youth ministry, and people’s feeling of connection. We track these things very carefully in our church and have seen improvement in all the measures that we look at.
In the last three years our church has started campuses in three smaller towns in east central Illinois. We have been surprised at how rapidly these new churches (sites of our overall church) have grown. It’s been very rewarding to see the many lives changed and marriages saved as these communities are served in significant ways. In September we will be launching a new Vineyard church (another campus of our church) in Charleston, Illinois, a small university town about an hour south of our original campus in Urbana. We still have a lot to learn but based on our experience so far, here are ten reasons why we all should be planting churches (both new campuses and church plants) in rural America.
- There’s no competition. It’s too bad, but there seems to be no “competition” when we start a Christ-centered church that includes an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, excellent worship, and great children’s ministry in smaller towns. In surveying those that are coming to our church, we have found that 31-35% at our new campuses were not previously involved in a church and an additional 25% say that they had a church home before but they were not actively involved in it. There’s a great need for vibrant churches in rural areas to reach the unchurched and dechurched there.