Episode 151: Seven mistakes churches make when launching campuses (and how to avoid them)


  • One common pitfalls that churches often face when they are considering multi-site or expanding their campuses is that they launch in order to inspire growth. The better plan is to launch a campus in response to growth that is already taking place currently.
  • It’s important to have a clear answer to “why” you are doing multi-site.
    • Are you planting a church or launching a campus? What is the reasoning for your choice?
    • Make sure it’s clear which one you are doing and why.
  • Most of the time, it makes more sense to continue on with your current church’s DNA and vibe when launching a campus, rather than trying to invent something completely new while planting campuses.
    • Churches should probably go into a location clear on who they are and then make small adjustments to that while adjusting to the local community and culture.
    • What are the things you’ve repeated so much that everyone knows? If there isn’t a clear culture, start establishing one now!
    • Could you ask all of your people involved in the plant, “What are we launching?” and make sure you’re getting the same answers.
    • It can be helpful to build a common look and feel across your sites.
    • Often times it’s easier to multiply and replicate the DNA across sites if there is one preacher being streamed to all locations. So, if there are live speakers in each location, it’s important for all of those speakers to carry the same DNA.
  • For churches with a primary dynamic teacher/preacher, it can make a lot of sense to have one person teaching and stream that to all campuses. Then the local pastor can focus on hosting and caring for the people.
    • There isn’t one “right” way to do it, it’s important to explore what works best in your context.
  • The people who launch a campus need to be the best at multiplying themselves. When you recruit for volunteer roles, ask them not only to volunteer but also to reproduce themselves in someone new. Without this constant focus and energy toward multiplication, the momentum and growth of a new site can start to stall.
    • It’s good to get in the habit of asking everyone, “Who’s your next?” Who is following them? Who could step up if called upon?
    • If you haven’t launched yet, don’t launch until you have a strong culture built around multiplication.
    • If you have launched, focus on this first!
    • If you’re THINKING about launching, don’t wait! Start building the multiplication mindset and process right now.
  • It can help to launch services in pairs so people can attend one service and serve at one service.
  • When you have several locations/campuses, it’s possible to have the right pastors/leaders but have them in the wrong spot.
  • Aside from the Lead/Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor relationship, the next most important leadership relationship is the Lead/Senior Pastor and the Campus Pastors.
  • One common pitfall is hiring a pastor who really wants to plant their own church, and then jump into a multi-site opportunity because it’s what is available (rather than because they are excited about and able to champion the vision that is already present in the church). This can create a situation where you have a renegade campus pastor.
  • It’s just as important to research an area before you launch a campus in an area as it is when you plant a church in an area.
  • Practically speaking, one way to figure out what the community needs, go to a local school principal and see the needs. Talk to some local real estate agents. Talk to other pastors in the area and get to know the church and leaders.
    • It can be easy to think that, because you have people driving from a certain community, it’s possible to simply cut and paste what is already happening in that spot. Instead, make sure to do your research. Get to know the community and the differences and distinctions.
  • Casting vision well is a key part of launching a location. Find the “one thing” that you can say over and over and drill it into everyone’s hearts and minds. That also helps people who are new determine quickly if they are a good fit at your church.
    • It’s easy to think that our vision is clear when it’s clear in our minds. But that doesn’t mean it’s clear to our congregations.
    • You might even ask your staff or congregation about what they thing the vision is. You might be surprised at how unclear they are.
  • Often, the number you launch with will drop by about 70%-50% after a year. That means you probably need to send twice as many people as you eventually want to stay at the campus long-term.
    • Initially, people will be excited about the launch, but that excitement can and will fade over time.
    • Make sure you’re clear about what they are committing to. Is there a time-frame? Are they coming to help set up and tear down equipment? Are they committing to invite several friends?
    • Many times we’re afraid to ask for a clear commitment, but it is actually a mistake to be unclear or lower the bar to try and get more people to say yes.
    • It’s much better to pray, prepare, and wait (if you’re not sure) than it is to launch prematurely and have to close a campus. Especially if you’re aiming to launch more than just one location.

Summary list of the pitfalls discussed:

  1. Launching for the wrong reasons (know your ‘why’)
  2. Launching without strong DNA in the church
  3. Launching without a multiplication mentality
  4. Launching without the right campus pastor
  5. Launching without researching where your going
  6. Launching without casting vision
  7. Launching without a critical mass of committed people

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