Let me just say first that I love Multi Site. I go to bed thinking about starting new sites and growing our existing sites, and I wake up thinking about the same thing. I believe in it, I'm living it, I'm leading it, and I know it's going to expand the Kingdom all over this country. But what I've also learned along the way is it's not easy, so I want to share some of the pitfalls we faced along our journey in hopes it will help you be better informed when making the decision to move forward at your church.
1. Make sure God is calling you to add sites. Multi Site is the big thing right now, but that doesn't mean everyone should do it. Multi Site is difficult, so make sure God is calling you to do it, or you'll be tempted to quit when it gets hard, and it will get hard. I believe going Multi Site is a decision that should be made prayerfully, not because it seems like a good idea, or because everyone else is doing it. If you don't pray your way through this on the front end you may regret it on the back end.
2. Multi Site will stress your church at its seams. Adding sites will stress your Admin team, your Children's Ministry, your Student Ministry, and your Creative and Production teams. No ministry is exempt from the stress of Multi Site, but in our experience, these were hit the hardest. I don't know many churches that have all the staff they need, and most of us somehow pull off church every weekend with less people than we wish we had, which is stressful, so I challenge you to think ahead about the coconsequences of adding more to that same already overworked team.
3. Finding the right leader is critical to the success of a new site, and those kinds of leaders are not easy to come by. The campus pastor is the carrier of your churches DNA, so making the wrong choice here could seriously effect the future of the new campus or even the reputation of the church. We picked each one of our campus pastors at BAF because they were already proven leaders long before they were given the job of oversight of a campus. Pick this person carefully so you can avoid some major problems down the road.
4. Someone on your staff will need to champion the Multi Site Ministry, which is what I do as the Multi Site Pastor at BAF. That leader needs to have a passion for it if the ministry is going to thrive. Adding it to someone's plate who either doesn't want it, doesn't have time for it, or doesn't have the giftedness to lead it, is a death sentence to the ministry.
5. Adding sites will stretch your churches finances. A campus may pay for itself right away, but it could just as easily take six months to a year to get financially healthy. We've experienced both scenarios and when the financial stress starts effecting other ministries it gets tough.
6. Creating great worship in multiple venues is one seriously tough gig. Someone will have to oversee this part of the ministry if you want great worship, and I don't believe you'll ever grow a great campus if the worship is bad. Just adding it to your existing Worship Pastor will eventually begin to affect the quality of worship at the first campus. I don't know what I would do without my Director of Multi Site Worship because what he does not just anyone can do. Leading a group of musicians and creating great worship is a very unique skill set.
These are just a few issues you might face when adding sites. There are solutions to all these issues especially if you put the right leaders in place, so don't let any of these possible pitfalls keep you from stepping out on faith and starting a Multi Site ministry if God is calling you to do it. I write this in hopes that sharing some of the things we have faced in starting new sites will simply help you step out better informed and prepared. Yes, there have been struggles, but the lives that have been changed have far outweighed any problems we have faced.
We don't by any means have all the answers, but the Multi Site staff at BAF will gladly share with you the good the bad and the ugly of our journey. Trust me, we learned a lot more from the bad and ugly than we have from the good.