It’s no surprise that I’m a huge proponent of microsites. (I mean, I started a whole website to talk about them.) And I’d love to see every multisite church at least consider them as a part of their strategic planning. Microsites have enormous potential to reach areas that have long been on the outer margins of the multisite movement. And I’ve seen God at work in these smaller settings to bring about real life transformation.
And, really, any vibrant church can tap into the microsite movement regardless of the number of campuses they have. There’s a much lower cost of entry than many other growth models.
Here’s why you should consider launching a microsite.
You Already Have People Live-Streaming or Driving
If you have a live-stream featuring powerful worship and a gifted communicator, you’ll have people watching. You’ll have people who think of you as “my church.” Some of them will even drive an hour to reach you.
In other words, God is already at work in that community.
The problem is that you also have a disconnect. Few people who live-stream on Sundays or chew up the interstate to get to you each week will invite people to join them. Few of them will be going through your discipleship program or jumping into your small groups.
They need something much more intentional to close the gap. Microsites can do that.
You Already Have Groups Meeting in Smaller Communities
Recently, we tested the idea of hosting a small group event outside of our traditional area. We saw from our stats that hundreds of people were driving in from this smaller community, and we’d heard from them—many of them—about “starting a campus” there.
Our groups event turned out to be a huge hit. Dozens of people came, and they were pumped. We didn’t spend massive money on a building; we spent time investing in relationships. And since then, we’ve begun launching similar events in other communities throughout our state.
What that showed us is there’s a growing potential to gather people in smaller communities who already have an investment in our church. Those groups give us a foundation to build on for microsites.
You Want to Keep Costs Down
To be honest, starting a new campus in some areas just doesn’t make financial sense. The building and staff costs would be unsustainable. Maybe your church can kick in the difference, but that often creates an unhealthy dependency. You end up with a campus that feels like they don’t have any part in what God’s building in their own community. (Not to mention the risk of having to pull back funding at some point.)
Or perhaps you’re seeing a growing number of people coming from a distant community, but you’re not in a financial position to invest in a new campus. Maybe you’re already in a building project, for example.
Either way, microsites allow you to launch sooner rather than later—and for much cheaper. In many cases, the costs can be as low as an AppleTV and whatever church-based resources you need, such as discipleship materials.
You’re Targeting a Location Where a Campus Isn’t Possible
The Rock Church in San Diego rocks the microsite concept (couldn’t resist the pun). And they do so in some unusual places where a normal campus would never work. For instance, they have “closed to the public” microsites that operate in prisons. Other churches have similar models in military communities, inner cities, and apartment complexes. In all these locations, a regular campus just wouldn’t work.
So, if you’re thinking about trying something nontraditional, the microsite model may fit your needs. You can develop faith communities in places that may have seemed out of reach before.
You’re Testing a Location for a Campus
Call it “market research,” if you will, but microsites offer a solid way to test the interest in an area before you commit to a full campus launch. Say you’ve been seeing a number of people coming to a campus from a strategic location. You can tell God is at work there, and you’d like to build on that momentum.
Then, do it. A small investment allows you to build a core, find leaders, and uncover future staff. You’re no longer the church “over there” or “down there.” You’re the church that has a presence in the community.
Actually, what’s amazing about this type of microsite launch is that you’ll begin to see people on the margins who move to the center. They used to feel disconnected because of distance, but planting something local changes the dynamic for them.