Multiplication Center

Why Cannibalizing Your Growing Campus May Be the Right Strategy

May 23, 2014




Last week I wrote about What 7 Rapidly Growing Churches Are Learning about Multisite as part of our fourth Rapid Growth Leadership Community.  This second post is a quick highlight of some key takeaways for these teams as they explored how to launch, grow, and support new campuses.

Purposeful ‘Cannibalization’ of Campuses

Many of the decisions that surround launching a campus, whether it is your first or fifteenth location, come back to a single question: “Why?”  The purpose behind launching your next campus will greatly determine the decisions you make regarding factors such as location, facilities, distance from the original site, merger opportunities, etc (or at least it should).  Some teams make the mistake of deciding on the details of the launch before they’ve correctly articulated the ‘why’.  The result is often wasted time, effort, and money.

Through their time in Dallas, some of our Rapid Growth teams recognized that their next campuses needed to be positioned so they could intentionally offload some of the attendance of the original site.  They had determined that the ‘why’ for their next campus was directly tied to the growth and facility constraints of their sending locations.  Their best strategy at this point is to ‘cannibalize’ their growing campuses in order to create even greater capacity for growth.

IPODS and Traffic Lights

I’ve written before on IPODs in some of my past blog posts related to central support for multisite churches.  IPOD is an acronym representing four ‘factors’ of alignment across multisite locations:

  • Initial – every campus will have/do this at launch, regardless of size, location, etc
  • Preferred – every campus should have/do this as soon as they are able
  • Optional – not every campus will have/do this, but they could
  • Don’t – no campus will have/do this

Saddleback Church developed an even more simplistic tool for establishing campus constants for all of its locations, modeled after a traffic light:

  • Green – do this
  • Yellow – wait, let’s talk about doing this
  • Red – don’t do this

What’s important isn’t the metaphor you choose, but the process you go through to determine how much alignment and flexibility there will be at each of your locations, and the systems and resources that are put in place to align each campus properly.  As all our teams had recently launched and/or were in the midst of preparing to launch additional campuses, many of them realized they had not established the constants necessary to ensure the successful launching of sites that would properly replicate the DNA of their churches.  They went home with some work to do in this area.

Carrots for Campuses

During their time with Steve Stroope and John Wardell from Lakepointe church, our teams discussed multisite financial models.  One topic of particular interest was capital campaigns, as many of these churches need to purchase, expand, or upgrade facilities due to their growth.   More specifically, leaders wanted to know how you align multiple campuses around a campaign that primarily targets the sending campus.  How do you motivate a campus to give sacrificially to something that doesn’t appear to directly benefit their location?

Steve shared that they put ‘carrots’ for campuses in each special contribution or capital campaign they conduct.  If a campus needs more children’s space or has a community project that requires additional funding, they will find a way to work that into the mix so that all campuses receive direct benefits from what the whole church is doing.  Not only does this strategy boost participation, but the work being done at each location gets affirmed in the process.

Where Are You?

Are you one of the now 8000+ churches in North America that are multisite?  Are you planning to join that number in the near future?  Regardless of where you are on your multisite journey, we have Leadership Communities and InnovationLabs that are designed to connect you with other innovative teams, accelerate your learning through access to thought leaders, and multiply your impact in your city, your region, and beyond.  If you fit into one of the categories below, click the link to learn more:

Multisite Jumpstart InnovationLab: We plan to launch our first multisite campus within the next 12-18 months.

Multisite Breakthrough Leadership Community: We have three or more locations and want to continue expanding through multisite.

Multisite Next Level: We have 8 or more locations with bold plans to continue multiplying locally, regionally, and perhaps internationally.

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