I think the first person that I heard use the phrase "dumb tax" was Larry Osborne, Senior Pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, CA.  In Larry's characteristic self-effacing manner, he commented, "We made a lot of decisions along the way that ended up needing to be changed and we enjoy passing along our learnings so that others don't have to pay the 'dumb tax.'"  When we gathered for our Multisite:Next Decade experience we asked churches to respond to the question, "What are the things that you didn't know when you started and that you do know now and how did you learn them?"  Following are a few of their responses:

Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Initial cost of technology  (trial and error)

Ongoing cost of technology  (trial and error)

Importance of campus DNA  (trial and error)

The next best launch comes from the regional campus instead of the main campus (conducted  research)

Christ Fellowship, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

The importance of gathering all of our staff from all campuses together for a weekly staff meeting – it has become our primary method for transferring DNA. (stumbled upon)

How expensive multisite is relationally.  It takes time to make decisions and include all the people and elements and this can lead to relational strain.  It is also expensive financially - 8 worship leaders instead of 1, supporting smaller campuses vs rolling them into one of our bigger campuses, etc.  (trial and error) 

How encouraging it is to our campus leadership when senior leaders rotate every weekend to a different campuses (trial and error)

The power of all campus volunteer appreciation nights (trial and error)

A staff structure designed for multisite (copied from Life Church)

Video venue strategies that work well (copied from Northpoint)

We copied a lot from the earlier adopters (Willow Creek, Northpoint, Community Christian, North Coast, etc) – things like what to outsource, practical campus start-up things, launch plans, community outreaches, etc)

Community Christian Church, Naperville, Illinois

Budget with more accountability to the campus vs. "One Budget" with the original/largest campus paying all (stumbled upon)

70/20/10 allocation of campus giving to add more accountability to maintain a multi-site staff structure  (copied from someone else)

Fundraising - Campus Pastor, Campus Launch Team and staff fundraising is a must (trial and error)

Church planting mentality - whatever it takes start up - is key.  Also leads to less co-dependency from center and more interdependency (trial and error)

Reproducing at the Edges - no longer wait for the center to say where the next campus is - instead ask the edges to lead that conversation (stumbled upon)

Residency Program - developing apprentice church/campus planters (stumbled upon)

We are looking for the top 5% of leaders - not just anyone can lead at the residency level (conducted research)

Organized our campuses around a network model with 3-4 campuses in each network and a Campus Pastor leading and directly reporting to a movement leader (stumbled upon) 

What about you?

Join the conversation by commenting and  sharing your learnings so that others can avoid the multisite dumb tax.

Looking for additional resources?  To view all the posts in this series, please visit our Multisite Resource page here.  Also, check out these two great books...


Author: Greg Ligon

Topics: Multi-Site Churches Learnings Multi-Site 

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