As a strategy for growth, some churches turn to church planting and some turn to establishing multi-site campuses that are part of the same church legal entity. Even more confusing, some churches both plant churches and establish campuses. There are lots of reasons to do either or to do both. I can only shed a little light on why we do both at North Point.
Campuses – We are, first and foremost, a local church. Further, we are committed to a model that, if successful, will grow continually (and homogeneously at all existing campuses). Accordingly, we have to plan for that growth. A previous post, Multi-site Churches – Infectious Disease and Cannibalism, speaks about how and where we plant our campuses which are part of our same church legal entity. In a nutshell, we plant them very close to existing crowded campuses. Further, we plant them large so as to make a large dent in existing campus occupancy. We plant them with all of our ministry environments present on Day 1. It’s not a scale-it-later proposition. Campuses, for us, do not at all look like church plants. How can we take such a risk and plant new campuses so large? By taking incrementally larger risks over the years, we have learned people will attend and life change happens in these large video church campuses. Large campuses, when planted close together, are not as risky as you might think.
Church Plants – We also plant churches. We call them Strategic Partners. Because we are committed to planting our campuses close to existing campuses, that leaves a lot of remaining territory for church plants, even in the Atlanta MSA. Strategic Partners are independent churches with the same mission, vision, strategy, core values and beliefs as North Point. They start with limited ministry environments in rent-by-the-day facilities and add more North Point environments as they are able to do so. The FAQ section of the Strategic Partner site answers a lot of questions about our church planting program. It is our opinion these churches should ultimately be governed by local elders.
A Coordinated Strategy – It is very important to us to do both. To be true to our model and to be a church worth following, we must grow. In order to intentionally cannibalize our existing campuses, all of these campuses should be under the same elder body for fluid transfer of staff and resources amongst the campuses. Let’s face it; it’s not cool to intentionally cannibalize a separate church. Further, the elder body is, by definition, in close proximity to all the campuses.
We also desire to equip great leaders who, for whatever reason, identify with our particular church model by helping them plant churches. Great leaders attract the necessary leadership and monetary resources to grow without much help from us. Quite possibly, one day these churches will also have multi-site campuses. Perhaps our history with multi-site will make us helpful coaches for them.