This blog entry is part of a series of reflections on the multi-site model of church. After the whole series has been posted, you can do a search for multi-site within the blog to pull up the whole series.
If you’re going to do multi-site church well, you’ll need to spend a lot of time praying, planning, and clarifying on the front end. There are many, many decisions that need to be made and churches all do them differently.
One of the biggest areas needing clarification is which areas should be localized and which areas should be centralized. What needs to be the same from site to site (theology? ministry philosophy? structures? worship service styles?) What things do the site pastors have the freedom to choose (children’s programs? Small group philosophy?) Is this a Starbucks model (same tile in all the bathrooms) or is this a looser franchise (a network of mom-and-pop stores, independently owned and operated)? The first will have all the worship services looking the same, while the second could have one site with a Sunday school model and another site that is house-church based.
Many of the seemingly small decisions have more significant implications than you would expect. Some churches have found it helpful to use outside coaches or consultants to guide that discussion.