Home > Blog > The Multisite Trifecta: 3 Essential Questions of Multisite Multiplication

September 29, 2015

The Multisite Trifecta: 3 Essential Questions of Multisite Multiplication

By Stephen Smith

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I’ll bet you can remember exactly where you were when somebody on your staff team popped the question: “When do you think we should go multisite?”

(insert cricket noise here…time stood still…the room went silent…

…your pastoral staff turn their heads toward the heretic in slow movie motion…

…In the corner of your eye you see the operations person curl up under the table…

…you feel that bead of sweat welling up on your forehead…

…your heart goes out to the person that asked the question…

…but in the next second you are thanking God you didn’t ask it…)

Although this is the nightmare scenario for some teams, that very question is being asked more frequently in meetings all over the world. My hope is that you and your team have already asked this important question. I would even hope you are asking it before your first location is even a “thing.”

I’m a part of a church that is 175 years old and has embraced a multisite strategy. We’ve found it to be not only an exciting adventure in multiplication, we’ve also found it to be like moving from algebra to calculus. We knew it would transform the way we operate, we didn’t anticipate the depth to which it would cause us to ask the deeper questions about our organization. The direct effects and side effects of the process has yielded great refining results for us that we are eager to share.

Presupposing the Lord has put mulitisite multiplication in the hearts of your leadership and that He wants you to begin to explore it, the first set of questions needs to be asked. I like to call them “the Trifecta” or the “Big 3”…or “the Triumverate” if I’m feeling especially Roman that particular day. They are Leadership, Location, and Logistics. I’m placing these in a very deliberate order that I’ll explain as we go.

The Leadership question must be answered first. More specifically, “Who is going to lead the army at the new site?”

Every chapter in every leadership book you’ve ever read probably underscores this. How many times have we heard the phrase “everything rises or falls in leadership”? I’ll answer that for you…a million. There is also the classic quote about rising boats on water levels…(I’ll insert a yawn for everybody in desert climates who is weary of that one)

I’ll submit to you that answering this question appropriately using whatever word picture you choose, will determine the success or failure of your mission…to penetrate a neighborhood with the Gospel. The person that is commissioned to lead this new work must not only be Godly, but Effective, with an eye for Excellence. This person needs to be able to motivate people, lead clearly, and be comfortable working in tandem with the team leaders and executive staff at the sending campus.

The Campus Pastor will function as the lead DNA carrier to his staff and his population of the church. Make sure this person has either been a part of your staff family long enough to know your organizational culture or is in program that is robust enough to train them quickly.

My suggestion would be to have this person be on your staff team for a minimum of a year before the new site is commissioned. This is not only a reasonable time to learn the cultural nuances, but also to build the launch team by getting into people’s lives.

The second question to answer is Location: “Where are we being called to plant?”

The first and second questions follow each other quickly. In fact, the “who” and “where” discussion will most likely happen at the same time. By their very nature the vision for the place and the vision for the Campus Pastor emerge within the first 30 minutes of discussion about multisite. Somebody will bring up the who and then the next person will ask, “but where..?” The next person will then say “yes, I like the idea of multisite multiplication…but where…?” It has been funny to note the number of “where” people usually outnumbers the “who” people by 75%.

My suggestion is to answer the “who,” then answer the “where.” If you have the right person in place that is motivated to accomplish the mission, they are going to bring back several possible locations for the plant. This gives that leader great ownership in the process and development of the right location.

What I am not suggesting is that the newly commissioned leader gets out a map and starts throwing darts. What I am suggesting is that the person be directed to a region, (most likely it is self evident among your staff) then be tasked with drilling down into the demographic data and the search for optimal meeting spaces. Create an owner of the process, not a robot that is doing somebody else’s bidding.

The final question in the Triumvirate has to do with Logistics, namely: “Can the current team structure support additional locations?”

Reserving the “how” question for last really helps the team discussion avoid the technical ditch. In short, there are a ton of ways to make multisiting happen these days. It honestly gets easier and more accessible every year. Connectivity, broadcast, printing, and group planning has never been easier or less expensive.

With that said, you will need to consider increasing not only your team headcount for the location, but also for your church’s support services. Obviously, the church will need people that have their heart and soul invested in the campus population. Often times, however, we forget the intermediate staff that work between the sites to solve problems and the actual support personnel in the communications or media roles whose task list has just increased. Increased opportunity without increased capability is a recipe for burnout and hurt feelings.

As an organization, put your best foot forward at the start by spending the time needed to chase down the procedural foxes in the vineyard. Put it in some procedural documents that are readily available to everyone on your team and you will see the engine begin to run more smoothly.

I’m sure you would agree with me when I say that clarity kills confusion. Beginning your multisite journey with these three questions answered will only help your teams and your church. Insist on healthy discussion and clearly articulated vision on the front side, and you’ll see the mission multiply in the most amazing ways.

These principles also apply to the meeting you’ll probably attend where somebody brings up the “crazy” idea of starting a Saturday night service. Drop the Triumvirate on them and you will come off looking like a brainiac…then drop the mic and walk out like you have to make a call…Boom!


Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith (@stephenandstar) serves in Houston with his wife and four kids. He shepherds four teams within the church: Music, Multisite, Media, and Marketing. He spends the remainder of his time these days with his head in a book or dealing with an unruly yard. His passion is leading worship through song with his wife and leveraging their lives to see ministry multiplied in their home church and beyond.


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