When Is It Time to Renovate Your Original Campus After Going Multisite? Blog Feature
Marian V. Liautaud

By: Marian V. Liautaud on May 19, 2016

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When Is It Time to Renovate Your Original Campus After Going Multisite?

Church Design | Project Profiles | Multisite | Managing Facilities

Churches that have grown from one building into multiple locations know the tension of launching multisite facilities and maintaining them. With all eyes on the next shiny, new thing, it’s easy to overlook the needs of the original main campus—especially when so much new growth is occurring at the new sites.

So when does it make sense to invest valuable ministry resources back into the original building? Will renovating an older campus fuel new growth and enable you to more efficiently and effectively serve your other sites, or will it simply be a diversion of dollars from your best opportunities to grow.

The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, tucked in a tree-lined, residential neighborhood in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, was faced with this exact question. Having launched three new campuses in recent years—with a fourth soon to open—the original Arlington Heights campus had received little attention or updating to keep it fresh and functional. The main campus was no longer facilitating ministry in a way that allowed The Orchard to thrive at this location and provide central services to its other multisite campuses.

More Than Multisite: Discover data for best practices and collective wisdom on launching new congregations.

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Time to Thrive

To thrive in this next chapter of The Orchard’s history, the church recognized that it needed the Arlington Heights campus to be a vibrant, growing, and sending campus—the center of an expanding multisite church. Turning the Arlington Heights campus into a 21st century space is a key step to ensure this happens.

In The Orchard's 3D animation video, Colin Smith—senior pastor at The Orchard—takes viewers on a virtual tour of the vision his church has been working on with Aspen Group to re-create space for ministry impact at their original location.

Main Level Lobby

By relocating the existing administration area, the Arlington Heights congregation will have more and better space for gathering with one another in the new main level lobby. This will be an environment that sparks conversations, especially with those who are new to the church. The new lobby is also designed to provide more functionality for the many activities that happen here.

The Welcome Center will be in a new location that’s visually clear to guests from the moment they step through the front doors. Aspen Group has designed a new Children’s Check-in just outside the secure nursery suite. This space will include a family bathroom and a nursing mothers room with integrated technology enhancements so moms can stay engaged with the worship service even while they’re out of the sanctuary.

The new elevator will be located adjacent to a new grand staircase that will be the main vertical connection between the upper and lower ministry spaces. This will draw people to connect to key ministries in the lower level, including Orchard Kids, student ministries, the gym, the library, a new family room, and Unlocking the Bible, resources from Pastor Smith's popular daily radio teaching.


On Sunday mornings, The Orchard Café is a busy–and crowded–place. They want to create more desirable spots for longer conversations on Sundays and throughout the week. The new café will become the core component of the new main level lobby, serving guests during the busiest ministry times. The café will be a crucial support to the great ministries happening in the building every day. With plentiful new seating arrangements that vary in style, multiple options to connect on a deeper level with one another, and corner nooks for those who want to engage at their own pace, the new café will provide plenty of spaces for people to engage in fellowship. During the week, it’ll double as a multipurpose space for small group gatherings.

New windows will be added throughout the café and lobby to let in more natural light and to provide neighbors and passersby some visual intrigue that we hope leads to a curiosity about The Orchard.


Worship is the most important thing that The Orchard congregation does together. Aspen Group will maintain the reverent feel of the sanctuary while maximizing the space to make room for approximately 100 more people per service so as many people as possible have a chance to hear the Gospel and worship together.

Whether it’s for weekend worship, a concert, or special occasion, the space will be enhanced with better lighting, new seating, and audio/visual equipment to help optimize people’s experience in the sanctuary. The platform will be modified to accommodate and enhance the celebration for both classic and contemporary styles of worship. This will eliminate the need to change the platform arrangement between services.

Lower Level Lobby

The new staircase and elevator will connect directly to the new lower level lobby. This will reduce the complexity of the check-in and drop-off process, eliminating barriers for young families.

New families who visit the church are looking for a place to connect. The new lower level lobby will be a family-friendly space for kids and provide another place for families to interact with one another. A play area, which will be utilized both on Sundays and mid-week, will delight and surprise families and provide a place to play while parents connect. And the library, once hidden down a hallway, will be integrated into this space and in plain view as a resource to all.

Fresh Life

For the past several years, The Orchard has been busy launching new campuses. They’re at a point where investing back into this original Arlington Heights campus will help infuse fresh life and room for growth so that they’re positioned to thrive and able to help sustain the growth of all their other campuses.

If you’re a multisite church, have you considered the life span of your original building? Is it still providing the functionality you need to grow at that site and provide services to your other campuses? Is it time to renovate so that your original facility matches the DNA of your other, newer campuses?More Than Multisite:  Download Facilities Chapter Now


About Marian V. Liautaud

Marian served as Aspen's Director of Marketing from 2014 to 2021, sharing stories about how Aspen designs, builds, and furnishes space for ministry impact.