Three Reasons Our Church Is Embracing a Multisite Model

New Life Multisite Summary North Campus Depauville Peter and Nina Hopper

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.

ch:

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  • Steve Adriance

    Great to read about your new multisite “North Campus” location and especially excited to know that it will be pastored by Peter and Nina! Please send them our love. We recently launched our first multisite campus in Lexington KY out of Vineyard Community Church. It is a terrific model that many fellowships have embraced here. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Christopher Hopper

      I’ll definitely pass your love on; it’s great to hear from you, Steve. Dad and Mom are getting to use all of their gifts in a context with an exponentially less amount of pressure.

      So great to here about your church and it’s success with multisite. Do you have plans for additional campuses in the future?

    • Steve Adriance

      Yes, more campuses are planned in other parts of Lexington as well as neighboring cities. In the past we’ve sent people out to other fellowships to support and join with a separate, distinct leadership team. The last time it was more than 100 people. With the campus approach we don’t lose the connection with people who have spent years building together yet we can better serve our city geographically. We also rotate live and taped speakers each week. It takes some getting used to but we always have worship leaders and pastoral team members at every service to make sure we don’t become impersonal.

    • Christopher Hopper

      That’s very close to what we have planned, mixing both live preachers and video streams for the message portion, but fielding 1 of our 5 worship teams to serve on site each week, in addition to pastoral and guest services staff.

      I love hearing the feedback; thank you. Exciting times!

  • WayneBatson

    Dude, you forgot the all-important Reason #4: Because Willow Creek Community Church did it, so we all should too! LOL Just half-kidding with that. My church has talked about this before, even to the point of maybe having off campus sites with video televised services. Not a big fan of that, actually. You lose the personal touch, IMHO, you lose much of the point of church.

    • Christopher Hopper

      Nice one. ;) Well, they certainly have a lot of fruit to speak from.

      I agree, I think doing multisite *must* contain the human element. Isn’t that the point of church? With ours, we’re incorporating both preaching from Peter and preaching from the Main Campus via video feed, on a regular rotation. The North Campus will also have a live worship team, along with all the support teams and pastoral care.

  • Sarah Geiger

    This is so exciting!! I’m tempted to join you all for Easter!

    • Christopher Hopper

      Ooooo! You totally should! It would make my mom and dad’s day!

  • Debbie Allen

    Smile. Grin. Fist bump. Happy dance!

    • Christopher Hopper

      Right back at’cha, lady!

  • Theresa Woodkirk

    Very well written! You explained the heart of NLCC in such a simple, straight forward way. I am so excited to see the fruition of this new endeavor.

    • Christopher Hopper

      You’re so kind, Theresa. Thank you for those words.

      I, too, am completely pumped!

  • Erica D Lehman

    Depauville’s closer to Clayton than Watertown is. Do your parents live in Clayton?

    • Christopher Hopper

      Yup!

  • http://www.crmooney.com CRMooney

    Reason 4: Because it’s cooler. Literally. It’s “North” and the closer to the arctic circle you get, the cooler everything gets. hahaha

    • Christopher Hopper

      By jove, well said, Sir Mooney!