Would a Multi-campus Church Work in the Lakes Area?

According to www.catalystconference.com, each year an average of 3,500 to 4,000 churches close their doors.1 The church, as we know it, is quickly becoming a relic of American history rather than a centerpiece of its future. Thankfully, there are a few trends seeking to stem the tide. One is the sharp increase in American church planting. For the first time in many years, the number of new churches planted has slightly outpaced the number of those that closed their doors.2 Another trend that stems this tide is healthy churches are becoming multi-campus. They are becoming one church that meets in more than one location.

The number of churches that are multi-campus is on the rise with more than 1,500 churches already meeting this way.3 Experts predict that within the next five years that number will swell to 30,000.4 Multi-campus churches are even coming to rural America as larger churches try to reach into outlying rural communities.
Why are multi-campus churches popular? Multi-campus churches use the genius of the “and.” They allow churches to grow larger and smaller at the same time. While a church continues to grow, by opening more campuses, the church can maintain the intimate feel of a smaller church. It combines the quality of an established church and the excitement that comes with a new church plant. Multi-campus churches are cost effective. A church can grow larger and not have the cost of a huge facility. It allows an established church to reach to the edge of its community and gain a presence in a new community. It opens up more opportunities for people to serve in the church and provides support for those already serving in a church.

When an established church becomes multi-campus, it typically finds itself reinvigorated to reach its own community. Surveys show that 69 percent of churches that went multi-campus became more evangelistic; 31 percent said their evangelism stayed the same, and 0 percent said it declined.5 The multi-campus trend is not just happening in mega-churches but churches with as few as 250 attendees are successfully becoming multi-campus.6

One of the strengths of another campus rather than a new church plant is another campus leverages the strength of a healthy congregation into a new congregation.The DNA, and core values, of both campuses are the same. The leadership is combined. The teaching, whether live or in video, is typically the same on all campuses along with the small group material, children’s ministry and student ministry. A new campus gains efficiencies and can open its doors with many of the strengths that only an established church can provide. After the essential commonalities, each campus is encouraged to diversify to best fit its own community.

While this sounds like something new and innovative, it follows an established cultural pattern. After a frustrating family vacation, that involved too many nights in dirty hotels, a Tennessee businessman came up with an idea. Why not create a network of hotels with an established quality of service? From that idea birthed what is our modern day Holiday Inn, a place you can be guaranteed of quality and a good night’s rest. The same thing happened in the restaurant industry with McDonald’s, Burger King and Olive Garden, just to name a few.

It also follows a biblical pattern found in the early church. In Colossians 4:16, we learn that Paul told the Colossians to read in their worship service the letter Paul wrote to the Laodiceans. In a similar fashion, the Laodiceans were to read Paul’s letter to the Colossians in their worship service. Paul’s letters were some of the Bible preaching of the ancient day. These churches, which were only five miles apart, would have the same teaching but were still different congregations. This is similar to what we find in the modern multi-campus movement, different but connected congregations all focusing on the same teaching.

Do you think a multi-campus church would work in the Lakes area? Faith Church of Spirit Lake is trying it. Plans are to open a Faith Church Spencer campus in 2014. It already hired a full-time pastor, Jordan Gowing, who lives in Spencer. It has a small group in the community and is moving forward with plans to open a full campus in 2014. If you are interested in being part of a new church campus that has the strength of an established church plus the vibe of a new congregation, contact (712) 336-3537 to learn more. You can also learn more about multi-campus churches at www.faithefree.com. From its website, you can sign up for regular updates on this new Spencer campus from Pastor Jordan Gowing.

(1) - http://catalystconference.com/read/us-churches-no-longer-in-decline/

(2) - http://www.christianpost.com/news/total-us-churches-no-longer-in-decline-researchers-say-45150/

(3) - This finding comes from a compilation of churches surveyed by the Leadership Network.

(4) - Surratt, G., Ligon, G., & Bird, W. (2009). The multi-site church revolution: being one church in many locations. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

(5) - Survey of 1,000 multi-site churches © 2005 Leadership Network. Available at www.leadnet.org

(6) - Surratt, G., Ligon, G., & Bird, W. (2009). The multi-site church revolution: being one church in many locations. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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