Announced yesterday, I’m excited to share that my church, New Life, is launching its first multisite location in Depauville, NY. Our new North Campus location, about 15 miles from our Main Campus in Watertown, NY, will be pastored by none other than my father and mother, Peter and Nina Hopper.
With over 3,000 multisite campuses in the US alone (and thousands more world-wide)—birthed by churches as small as 50 congregants, all the way up to mega-churces—there are numerous reasons to move toward a church model that plants new faces of the same expression throughout any given region.
Here are three of our primary reasons at New Life:
The Gospel Issue
The Gospel of King Jesus still needs to be proclaimed, lived out and administered. Church plants aren’t just for missionaries to start in 3rd World nations, but for missional Christians to start in all nations.
If we claim to be in Christ, we should constantly be on the lookout for new ways to preach this Gospel message.
Establishing a new expression of a mature church culture that a region has already embraced is an amazing way to do this. But rather than expecting people to come to us, the multisite expression loudly declares, “We’re coming to you!”
The Replication Issue
Much like walking into a quality hotel chain in any city of the country (or the world, for that matter), people know that they can expect the same exceptional experience in this new location as they could with the original. Sure, the pool might be on a different floor, and the windows might display a different skyline, but the thing that you count on—the thing that matters—is that the cultural values are the same.
(No, our church doesn’t have a pool, although that would be cool).
This quality of integrity is essential in begetting other Christians through the vehicle of the local church. If we have to reinvent church culture every time we start a new one, we’re ultimately inefficient stewards with the mandate of discipling others. It takes multiple generations to weed out worldly thinking and imbue kingdom thinking; so why start over every time we want to multiply?
Reproducing what works isn’t corporatism, it’s intelligent.
The Space Issue
Moving to a multisite model is an exciting step for any church to take, as it not only endeavors to reach more people with the Gospel by moving to where those people are, but seeks to deal with capacity issues at its primary location.
Right now, our Main Campus is running four services, and we’re past the 80% capacity mark in three of those services—the statistical benchmark of needing to create more space so new people feel like they have a place. Adding a fifth service, however, would put too much strain on what’s already a long day for our hundreds of volunteers.
While building a new sanctuary (and expanding all the support ministries to match, like child care, parking and hospitality) is certainly an option, the price of building is exponentially larger than the costs of creating a second campus in a pre-existing building.
Launching a new venue isn’t just a good Gospel move, it’s a good business move. Since many current congregants will switch their attendance to the new venue, as it’s closer to their home or they feel called to be a part of the ministry there, more seats will open up at our Main Campus for new people to attend.
For New Life in particular, this move to multisite means something special. Not only will two 43-year pastoral veterans of the faith be caring for people in a region that deeply needs comfort, but we’re moving back into the property we vacated in 2008. The “Old Stone Church” was built in 1836 on land gifted to the town by Henry Depau; his mandate was that it always be used as a place for worship. While it’s remained dormant since we outgrew it, the walls will soon echo with praise again.
If you’re a faithful reader of this site, I’d ask that you please keep this launch in prayer. The first service will be held Easter Sunday, April 20th at 10:00 AM. And if you live in the river communities of Jefferson County New York, and need a church family, I can recommend no better pastors than the two people who raised me in Christ.
No matter the size or scope of your church, pray about the future impact you should have in your region. Planting churches—at least for New Life—is part of our Board’s growing 100 Year Vision.
For more material on this, I recommend the following:
• Leadership Network Publications (free)
• The Multi-Site Church Revolution: Being One Church in Many Locations, Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird, Zondervan, 2006
• A Multi-site Church Roadtrip: Exploring the New Normal, Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird, Zondervan, 2009
What strategies is your church embracing to reach more people with the Gospel and make disciples of Jesus? I’d love to hear.