Multi-Site Church: Tech of Multi-Site

We’ve been doing a series of posts on the Multi-Site model of church’s here at Conversatio Morum. Since we are dedicated to Technology, Theology, Missiology and we’ve talked extensively about Multi-Site from a theological and missiological standpoint, we’ll talk from a technological standpoint in this point. I stated previously here that you shouldn’t go multi-site unless you’re ready to both A) significantly invest in and B) significantly think about technology. The reason for this is the same across any organization. Growth, introduces “problems”. Throwing technology “solutions” at problems without any forethought to the actual cause will never fix the “problem”.

Think of it this way, if you have someone who is inefficient at filing and keeps stacks of paper and in order to fix the “problem” you set that person up with a scanner to electronically file things. At best, you’ll have an electronically filed mess with no folder structure that isn’t scalable when your organization needs to grow. The problem is with the user’s perception of organization goals and growth.

The point here, is that each “problem” needs to be taken into account on a per problem basis. One solution that may work perfectly with one church, will not go well at all in another. There a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Technology is not neutral
    1. No, I’m not saying it’s evil, and I’m not saying it’s good. I’m saying it’s not neutral.
    2. I can imagine you trying to make sense of what I just said, let me help.
    3. Technology, in a moral sense, is neutral, but technology does have a built-in set of values endowed on it by its creator (is any of this sounding familiar?). Those values will begin to affect the users of the said technology as they begin to use the technology.
  2. Each church is different.
    1. As stated above, each technology you use is teaching some value that is carried along with it. You need to think through if the values of the technology you’re using is OK with you and your congregation.
    2. A good example is that if you’re wanting to push people to read the bible personally, then putting it up on a projector (as opposed to forcing people to actually bring and use their own bibles) is probably not the best idea.

If you’d like to read more regarding thinking through technology and how we use it, then you should read From the Garden to the City by John Dyer. It’s been a great help in rethinking technology and a lot of the above thought either comes from or is influenced by his writing.

Also, you need to be prepared to invest in technology. Notice I didn’t say spend on technology. Investment is different and requires some forethought. What will your church look like 10 years from now? What will you need to spend? If you want a great example of that, then you can check it out here. This is not only a question of growth, but one of stewardship and multiplication. When you roll out a new campus, how much time will it take to get rolling? If all sites run the same tech, then that will be a shorter time frame. When you train volunteers, could they go to another site and do the same thing without extra training? If not, then you’re limiting your resources and will cost more time. The more standardized that everything is, the faster things can happen, and that will cost less $ in the long run. If you want to read up on standardization in this way then you can here. Yes, this will cost money, what are you going to spend? How are you going to spend it? Why are you going to spend it?

The other thing I would say needs to happen is a decision regarding video. There are many approaches here, but two main. One is to not do video and have the pastor preach live at all locations and schedule enough gap between service times for him to get there. Mars Hill did this for a while, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York still does, with Tim Keller running between locations. The next is to do some video and some live. This is the most common and is where some of the sermons at all campuses are pre-recorded, while some are live on-site from one campus and simulcast to the other sites. North Point currently does that along with The Village and many others. If you choose to do video, you’ll also have to decide between live stream such as with The City Church, or a mix of live stream and pre-recorded, or fully pre-recorded.

This is not exhaustive, but those are some of the main things that need to be realized/thought through as you consider whether or not to go Multi-Site. It’s a fun journey that a lot of church’s are taking and it’s causing great growth as the church’s get “smaller” by digging down into their local communities through campuses. This is an exciting time as the church is becoming more inventive with technology and how to use it effectively. The future is going to be good and Jesus is going to win.

What about you? What other things should be thought through for church’s moving to a new model? If you’re church has transitioned, what are some lessons you’ve learned?