Multisite ministry by any other name... - Word&Way

Multisite ministry by any other name…

LEWISVILLE—Before a church launches a multisite ministry, it must select and secure a site, assemble a leadership team, raise funds and work through logistical details. But Northview Baptist Church in Lewisville has discovered the most difficult task sometimes may be education.

“The multisite concept totally confused our people,” said Rob Veal, associate pastor at Northview Baptist Church. “The term ‘multisite’ became a negative. So, we changed the lingo.”

The church—which had 25 members when Pastor Kenneth Wells arrived 30 years ago—has grown in recent years to about 700 in attendance at three worship services on any given Sunday. But its location has limited growth.

“The big issue for us is parking,” Veal explained. “We are on three acres in a neighborhood, surrounded by houses. … As we try to move people in and out of three services, we have cars parked on the grass, parked in bar ditches—it’s just a mess.”

A representative from Denton Baptist Association initially told church leaders Northview Baptist was “a great candidate to go multisite,” Veal recalled. The church put together a team last year to study the matter, looking at existing multisite models and the potential for implementing that approach at Northview.

“It looked like a good fit for us,” he said. The church found a potential site in neighboring Flower Mound, just seven miles from the existing campus and home to about 120 members.

However, members of Northview Baptist had difficulty relating to the high-profile megachurches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that follow a multisite approach. Some saw the multicampus model as no different than a church split.

“Our people have never seen it before. … There’s not a model in the area that we know of that is like our church,” Veal noted.

So, instead of talking about multisites and satellites, Northview Baptist leaders began using more familiar terms—starting a mission or planting another church, but doing it a different way. The church envisions a congregation that would meet at a school in Flower Mound.

“There will be a campus pastor and a worship team, but it will be the same music and format our people know,” Veal said. “Our pastor will preach there. We reach all generations. We’re not selling a video pastor. But the church will grow as people become more attached to the campus pastor.”

Instead of focusing attention solely on the multisite ministry, the proposal became one part of a three-pronged capital campaign launched May 1 and scheduled to culminate June 5. The campaign involves a master plan expansion and debt reduction, as well as the multisite project.

For now, Northview Baptist leaders are “not pushing it,” Veal said, but simply helping members grow in their understanding of what multisite ministry might look like for a fairly traditional, multigenerational neighborhood church that wants to move beyond the limits of its location.

“We’re not trying to become a megachurch,” Veal said. “We’re just trying to reach people for the Lord.”