Multi-Site on a Budget

Guest Post: Sam Pickard

I am super-excited about the future!  In fact, I’m always eager to move forward.  Often I’m so eager to move forward that I forget to take a minute and celebrate what God has already done.  Recently, I have been looking back on how God has allowed a church in a small rural Midwest community to impact multiple communities, even outside of the US.

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In 2009, God gave our Lead Pastor a vision to reach thousands of people for Christ in rural communities through a multi-site strategy.  He began sharing that vision. In early 2012, the first campus outside of our original campus was launched, and God did it with our very limited resources.  Five years later we have five campuses, including one in Jamaica.  We have also launched our iCampus (what we call our online campus).  God has done and is doing amazing things!

Sometimes, we can be tempted to look at the mega-churches with the big budgets and think that they are the only ones that can do big things.  That’s just not true!  We have very limited resources, and I want to share seven things that have allowed us to do Multi-Site with a limited budget.  It’s my prayer it will encourage you as you attempt to accomplish what God has called you to.

HAVE A VISION – You have to have a vision for what God has called you to AND you have to share that vision with those in your church.   If you don’t have that vision, you need to get on your knees and start begging God for one.  Spend time in prayer, fasting, and silence.  Do what you have to do to see a vision for the local church you lead.

BUILD A COMMITTED TEAM – As we were getting ready to launch into multi-site, we desperately needed a strong committed team of leaders, but we didn’t have funds to hire them.  That’s when a pastor friend shared the idea of a volunteer team.  That team is expected to attend meetings and have real responsibilities.  In fact, they have job descriptions.  We ask them to commit for a year and at the end of the year, they can step off the team if they need a break or it wasn’t a good fit.  (Most of them have stayed on longer than a year.)

Even as we have begun hiring paid staff, there are very few people who are full time: three pastors and our secretary.  We have four pastors, including our lead pastor and our executive pastor (me), who are bi-vocational (working at least two jobs).

ENCOURAGE GENEROSITY  It’s no secret that many churches shy away from talking about giving.  Don’t.  Entire sermons series, blogs, and probably books have been written on this topic, so I won’t go too deep in the weeds except to say that you need to encourage people to give and provide them that opportunity.  Providing an opportunity isn’t simply taking an offering each week, though that is part of it.  It’s much bigger than that.  Here are three specifics:

  1. Teach about money.  It was important enough for Jesus to talk about, so we probably should too.
  2. Make needs known, and not just financial.  We have had drum kits, TV’s, computers, etc. donated.  We even had a building donated.  Let people know what you need for God’s vision for your church to be what He wants it to be.
  3. Check out Giving Rocket.  They have some great tools.  We utilize their idea for a Christmas Offering.  At a time when many are in a giving spirit, it gives people an opportunity to be generous for a great cause, something bigger than themselves.  In our case, at times we have used part of these funds to go towards future campus launch.

FIND FREE AND INEXPENSIVE RESOURCES – There are some great ones out there.  Here are some that we use:

  1. TechSoup.org – We are able to get a variety of computer programs and software at a greatly reduced price.
  2. Google Hangouts – We are spread out and have people joining meetings from all over.  Hangouts is a free video chat tool that allows us to meet remotely.
  3. iMovie – There are a lot of video editing platforms out there.  We use iMovie.  It works for what we need, and it comes installed on newer Macs.
  4. Dropbox – This is a file sharing platform that allows a person to put a file in a folder and have it available to everyone with access to that Dropbox folder.  It’s been a great way to share videos to all campuses.  We started with the free version, but due to the size of the videos, we upgraded to the paid version for $100 per year.
  5. Podcasts – Our leaders listen to a lot of podcasts, and why wouldn’t we?  It is free training from a variety of people on a variety of topics.  Want to have everyone discuss a topic but don’t have the funds to buy a book for the entire team?  Listen to a podcast, and discuss it.

GET CREATIVE – I know that I am biased, but we have some great stage designs. And we do it with next to no cost.  We have used corrugated metal from old farm buildings, furnace filters, and a variety of items that were laying around.  There are some great things you can do for cheap.

You can get some great ideas on the internet.  One of the ways we saved a couple thousand dollars was to build a rear projection screen versus ordering one.  The Campus did it for less than $50 with a shower curtain and some framing materials.  It was an idea we found online, and it looked great!

MAXIMIZE VIDEO – We had to figure out video in a hurry in order to support video venue.  (BTW, Dave Horn at Truth Seekers is a great resource. www.geartechs.com). Once we did that, we realized we could do so much more.  We began doing an online campus. People know Jesus today because of our iCampus. We started publishing videos to YouTube, Vimeo, social media, and our website.  One of the people on our staff first connected through one of those videos.  Others at our church checked us out for the first time through those videos.

SHARE YOUR VISION – This is here twice because it is that important.  You have to have a vision for what God has called you to, AND you have to share that vision with those in your church. Don’t wait to have all the answers.  I’ve heard it said that a God-sized vision has more questions than answers.  Embrace that tension. People are willing to volunteer, give, get creative, and tell others about our church because they believe in our vision.

These past five years haven’t been easy, but it’s exciting to see what God has done. He is working and lives are being impacted in real ways.

Sam Pickard loves people and is a leader in the rural midwest. His professional leadership began in a factory setting and continued into retail where he had the privilege of leading large teams at International Fortune 500 companies for more than 15 years. Currently Sam works as the Manager at Pickard Insurance Services in addition to being the Executive Pastor at The Rescue Church. He is married to Eve, his wife of nearly two decades. They have three amazing kids and future leaders: Miriam, Micah, and Kirti. If you want to connect, Sam is on Social Media at @iamsampickard and blogs at sampickard.com.

Please note I have the right to remove comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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