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    Quarterly Unstuck Church Report

In the summer of 2014, the team at NewPointe Community Church committed to launching our fifth and sixth campuses in 2015. One in Wooster, Ohio, a mid-sized town in the middle of Amish country. The other in a suburb of Akron, Ohio, the home of Lebron James. The plans for both campuses looked very similar on paper. But as with every campus launch, it wasn’t long before each became very unique.

Is your church thinking about launching a campus in the future? As you do, consider these five key principles that emerged during the launch of two campuses in 2015:

  1. Every launch brings a different set of circumstances.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to starting a campus. Unique differences among communities, leaders, teams, and so on require customized adjustments along the way. If you don’t have someone closely guiding your launch, you’ll miss out on great opportunities and run into unexpected challenges.

Wooster was a traditional community that had become familiar with NewPointe through campuses in other towns. Yet many of those same people were hesitant about watching teaching on video. In Akron, people were far less familiar with our church but were more comfortable with our use of technology.

  1. Every campus pastor will lead differently.

Though all your campus pastors may have the same necessary gifts, they each also bring unique skills and experiences. If you try to lead multiple campus pastors in exactly the same way, you’ll eventually find you’re the one getting in their way.

Daniel Owolabi and Chad Olinger both built incredible teams in Wooster and Akron. But they each did so out of their own strengths. The recruitment process and resulting teams looked differently. But they were both very healthy and prepared to reach their communities.

  1. Different communities respond differently to marketing.

It’s important to be honest about how much it costs to make an impact with marketing. Marketing in a suburb is significantly more expensive than marketing in a more rural community. One of the best things you can do is seek coaching from local business owners who are familiar with advertising in your specific area.

In Wooster, several billboards, a direct mailer, and Facebook ads created a significant buzz. A local newspaper representative even remarked, “I’d be hard-pressed to find someone in Wooster who doesn’t know that NewPointe is launching here.” In Akron, marketing opportunities cost significantly more. We budgeted accordingly. Still it was much easier to gain people’s attention in a smaller town that was not as familiar with our style of church.

  1. Local connections make an important difference.

There are two approaches to building a campus launch team. One is to launch in an area from which a large number of people are already attending your church. The other is to send people from your local community as “missionaries” into a nearby community. When you launch a campus with people who live in that specific area, they can more easily invite their friends and family to church. This quickly generates momentum.

At NewPointe, our strongest launches have been in locations where we had a significant group of local volunteers who had already been attending other NewPointe campuses. The new campuses made it easier for them to reach the people closest to them. Churches with high brand recognition such as LifeChurch.tv may be able to launch campuses in brand new locations. Otherwise, it is difficult to gain traction.

  1. Rental venues require backup plans.

If you’re planning to launch in a portable venue, have one or two backups available at a moment’s notice. In Wooster, we ran into trouble with the high school we rented just a few months after launch. This quickly created a sense of instability for our team. In Akron, we found ourselves in a very similar situation. That time, we had two additional facilities lined up. The backup plan proved invaluable.

Regardless of when and where your church decides to launch a new campus, I’m confident that your experience will be truly unique. Leverage these five lessons to identify your challenges and opportunities along the way. Also, if you’re interested in developing your own multisite strategy specific to your church and community, The Unstuck Group would love to help you do just that.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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