In the fall of 2005, I attended the Coast to Coast Multi-Site Conference at Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL. While there I talked with some of the staff members, who shared with me a practical application of "The Genius of the AND."
The following illustrates how Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of CCC, views the concept of multi-site: by comparing them to what goes on in the banking, health care, higher education - and church settings.
Our institutions are growing larger and smaller simultaneously, blending the strength that size offers with the comfort and convenience of smaller, closer venues. This is one example of what Jim Collins in “Built to Last” called "the genius of the AND," the paradoxical view that allows you to pursue both A and B simultaneously.
While developing our multi-site church, we discovered these advantages that all demonstrate the genius of the AND:
Brand new AND trusted brand
We've found a similar dynamic with the multi-site church. It has the upside of what used to be denominational loyalty, which was prominent in yesteryear but now is found in congregational loyalty. The particular congregation is the trusted brand, and the opening of a new site makes it brand new.
Staff with generalists AND specialists
The multi-site church allows you to start a new location with the existing staff in place. Instead of hiring more generalists, you add specialists such as technical arts, administrator, or director of creative arts for children.
Less cost AND greater impact
Financially, a new campus is tremendously cost effective. When we started our north campus (our first) we spent lots of money on staff, equipment, and marketing. When we started our south campus (our second site), we spent less money, added specialists to our existing staff team, and a similar marketing blitz. We had 565 at the first service, but more importantly, after three months we were averaging 360 at our south campus, again 80 percent unchurched. Doing the math, that's 39 percent retention at our first location, and 64 percent retention at our second location. Our second campus cost less money to start, reached more people, and resulted in a greater retention.
New church vibe AND big church punch
Lyle Schaller told us, "The most important thing you offer to this new work is your large church culture." At first I wasn't sure what he was talking about. He meant expectations and excellence. We were able to launch the second site with the same level of excellence that it took us eight years to achieve at our north campus.
Move there AND stay here
Growing churches and real estate have this in common: "location, location, location." Many existing churches, particularly older churches, are located in communities with little growth. These churches look across town where new development is happening and they see the potential. Perhaps many of their members are moving there. After looking at their options, instead abandoning their existing site to move to the booming west side, they can choose to "move there and stay here." That keeps a campus in the downtown neighborhood with an intentional outreach to the community, and allows the launch of a campus in one of the faster growing areas.
More need AND more support
As we think about a new site, we lay out a matrix of about 100 blanks, representing the positions we need to fill in order for us to launch. The increased opportunities create a vacuum that challenges more people to step in to serve in voluntary leadership roles in all areas, such as children's, hospitality, and small groups.
More outreach AND more maturity
While people will drive long distances to join the weekly celebration service at a large church, if they live more than 20 minutes away, their ability to serve and to invite friends is diminished. A multi-site campus allows them to participate in volunteer teams as well as small groups.The multi-site church reaches out to make both more Christians and more mature Christians.
That's the Genius of the "AND" in real life.
How are you going to put it into practice at your organization?