5 Tips for Launching New Churches
We hosted a panel discussion about launching multisite churches with three visionary leaders and pastors: Tom Elenbaas, Harbor Churches; Mark Jobe, New Life Community Church; Steve Poe, Northview Church. Each pastor addressed challenges multisite leaders face, what they’ve learned personally since embarking on a multisite strategy, and tips for healthy growth. Here are five practical tips from our conversation:
Release and empower. You can’t go it alone. Sharing the load and building strong teams for each location is essential for multisite growth. One of the beautiful characteristics of the multisite model is that it empowers new leaders and the congregation to reach the people in their own backyards.
Mark Jobe shared, “All leaders have insecurities. Insecurity isn’t a sin, but it can lead us to sinful behavior. It can lead us to over-controlling and to want all the glory for ourselves. Healthy multisite leaders have to learn the power of releasing and raising other leaders—to find joy in empowering others to do the work of ministry.”
You can view the full panel discussion with these pastors here:
Share the journey with high-capacity leaders. It’s important to place a high value on leading with humility and setting individual egos aside. An effective multiplying movement will combine the talents and efforts of many high-capacity leaders who are focused on the vision and healthy collaboration.
Pastors who lack experience or training in organizational leadership must also be willing to learn as they go and to surround themselves with wise leaders who have the knowledge and are willing to share it. Good leaders can recognize when someone else can do something better. They learn from others who have already walked the road.
Clearly define the model. With various options to consider, develop and declare the approach your church will take when it comes to multisite. What is your philosophy? What are your priorities? Where will you have consistency versus customization?
Steve Poe shared that Northview Church embraces a franchise model. Teams focus on creating environments at each site that are distinctly Northview and that intentionally strive to put the newcomer at ease. Mark Jobe noted that New Life Community strives for each site to reflect its local community in a more personalized way, while Harbor Churches hone in on serving the needs of the local community. For example, if a site is in a rural area, does that community need a common gathering space where a church could also be placed?
Consider skill and shared values when hiring. Make sure you are selecting leaders who will reflect your church’s unique DNA, even if it takes a little extra time. The importance of the campus pastor can sometimes be underestimated when churches are expanding sites. Hiring a leader who doesn’t share your values or have the right gifting can cause significant problems down the road.
Seek God activity. Where is God moving in your community? Are you sensing a burden for a specific area or group of people? Have you been invited into a part of the community with new opportunities? Once you identify the open door, then move to a phase where you begin evaluating the possibilities of a facility, campus pastor, and timing of a potential launch.
The Future of Church Multiplication
What are these leaders considering for the future of church multiplication? The panel shared that their top-of-mind considerations include addressing and staying relevant within the shifting culture, creating young, urban, multicultural churches, finding the most effective way of reaching the unchurched world and moving from a multisite culture to a culture that creates movement churches.
About the Panel:
Tom Elenbaas is the Senior Pastor of Harbor Churches, one church with multiple locations in the greater Grand Rapids area. He has also served as a youth pastor, a pastor at the University of Michigan campus, a Spiritual Formation Pastor, and a church planter. Tom is passionate and involved not only in local church planting and seeking to develop new multisite strategies, but also in leadership development and catalyzing global church planting movements.
Mark is the lead and founding pastor of New Life Community Church in the city of Chicago. He and his wife Dee have seen New Life grow from a handful of people to several thousand meeting at over 25 locations with over 40 worship services each weekend. Mark is also the founder of New Life Centers, an organization focused on helping youth in underserved areas of Chicago. Mark is the author of UNSTUCK: Out of Your Cave into Your Call and can be heard on his daily radio program StraightTalk. In 2018, Mark took on the role of president of Moody Bible Institute.
Steve Poe has served as Lead Pastor of Northview Church in Indiana since 1999. Under his leadership, the church has grown in attendance from 500 to more than 8,500. Northview Church started with one campus in Carmel, IN, and has grown to having campuses in Fishers, Lafayette, Westfield, Indy North, Anderson, and the list continues to grow. Steve started his career in the business world, first opening three restaurants and franchising two others. He also was part owner and operator of a radio station, which became a Christian radio station, as well as a financial planning firm, and a commodity trading group. Although he loved the business world, he sensed God calling him into full-time ministry, a calling he had heard on his life since he was 16.