by Don De Kok, coordinator of church multiplication for Dakota, East Sioux, and West Sioux Classes

There is a growing interest, not only in the RCA but in the wider Christian world, in second campus, satellite, or multi-site ministries. These titles all refer to similar concepts in ministry. Sometimes house churches or cell churches are included in this discussion as well. The important thing is not to get hung up on titles or labels, but to get hung up on how to expand God’s kingdom in the culture in which we live. Bill Easum wrote recently an Internet article that says churches of 200 members are four times more likely to birth a new church than churches of 1,000. Size is not the issue–kingdom attitude and vision are.

These types of ministries can be an important and vital part of reaching our culture for Christ. We have reached the “easy” people. Now it’s time to find ways of reaching the people who are still choosing to sleep in on Sundays even though our churches are offering many opportunities and ministries. Second campus, satellite, multi-Site, house, and cell churches can be a strategic means of expanding God’s kingdom.

The following is a series of questions and answers about these ministries. If you would like more information or would like to talk about starting something like this in your community, please contact Don at dsjalton@midlands.net or (712) 441-1360.

What is a satellite, second campus, or multi-site ministry?
Put simply, it is the mother church meeting at two or more locations. It is an outreach ministry of a mother church that seeks to bring Christ to people who are not reached by the mother church. It may meet at a different location than the mother church and may have a style of ministry very different than the mother church. Size is not the issue. The issue is whether the ministry reaches unsaved people. It can be led by staff or lay people from the mother church.

Is a second campus ministry a new church?
No. It is part of the mother church, under the leadership of the mother church, may use the resources of the mother church, and may be funded by the mother church. It is the mother church now meeting in two or more locations.

Is a second campus a duplicate of the mother church?
Yes–if you want to bring what is done at the mother church to a different part of the city or area. In this case, preaching may be done via closed circuit TV. Worship can be handled live or through media hookups.
No–if you want to reach a different group of people through a different style of ministry. In this case, preaching will probably be live at the second campus and worship style will differ from the mother church.

What style of worship would a second campus be?
Whatever will reach the target group. It could be traditional or contemporary, rock, rap, or country, informal or formal. If you are trying to reach senior citizens, you will tailor the ministry differently than if you are trying to reach Generation Xers. Remember that second campus ministries usually target a more specific demographic than is presently meeting at the mother church.

Who gives leadership to a second campus ministry?
Most churches have people who have a passion to reach those who are not in relationship with Christ. Encourage these folks to be part of the core group. Many times these folks are also involved in other ministries in your church. It is important to free them from those ministries, as a second campus ministry should take priority for their time and energy.

How many people are needed in a core group?
The more the better! Many gifts are called for. If a mother church could bless and commission 20 to 30 people to this ministry, that would give it a good start.

What about children of the core group?
All the ministries and opportunities of the mother church are available to the children, teens, and adults of the core group. They need the support and nourishment that the mother church provides. As the second campus ministry grows, it will probably begin to create ministries of its own for the people who attend. No timetable is set for this.

What benefits does a second campus ministry give the mother church?

  • Allows the mother church to develop a new DNA to reach people.
  • Provides more doors for people to come into relationship with the church and Christ.
  • Allows the mother church to support multiple outreaches using multiple styles to reach various people groups.
  • Opens leadership opportunities for people at the mother church and the second campus.
  • Brings vitality and vision to the mother church.
  • Enhances mission in the local community.
  • Utilizes the gifts and creativity of people.
  • Does away with “worship wars” because the second campus meets at a different location.

Common misconceptions about a second campus ministry:

  • It will take leaders away from our church. In reality, it opens more opportunities to raise up leaders in both ministries.
  • It will take money away from the mother church. Since this is one church meeting in two locations, all offerings can go into the same budget.
  • I won’t see my friends. I won’t see my children or my grandchildren. These are real issues. People love to come to church and see their extended families. Proper teaching will be necessary to help people understand that kingdom expansion is more important than everyone being at the same building at the same time. If families see each other at church, they can just as easily see each other after church or during the week.
  • The second campus could become competition to the mother church. In most communities, more than half the people don’t have a church home. Do the math–there is plenty of room for both ministries to reach people. Statistics show that churches who give people away to a second campus usually increase in both attendance and offerings within the next 12 months. We must continue to remind our people that the goal is kingdom expansion, not the size of our church.

Who provides leadership and oversight of a second campus?
The consistory of the mother church is the one who gives birth to the idea of a second campus. Overall leadership and oversight comes from the mother church consistory. It must also be said that it is wise to allow the core group to set up a leadership structure within itself, and these leaders should be given plenty of latitude to develop style, time, and place of the ministry. The consistory must be careful to not micromanage something that looks different than the mother church.

How large does a church need to be to birth a second campus?
It needs to be big enough in heart and kingdom vision to want to reach people. Can you birth a second campus without crippling the mother church in leadership and finance? The old saying goes, “If there is a will, there is a way.” As Christians we are called to walk by faith and not by sight. Far too many churches live in fear and so will never give birth to a new church or second campus. What a pity–to be a childless parent!

What do consistories need to know about second campus ministry?

  • They were selected by God to lead his church to victory.
  • The purpose of God’s church is to bring lost people to Jesus.
  • Most communities are at least 50 percent unchurched.
  • *People forming the core group of the second campus need to be released from duties in the mother church.
  • The core group must be prayed over and commissioned for the task.
  • The core group must be offered regular encouragement.
  • Regular communication must be given to the mother church concerning the progress of the second campus ministry.

What does the mother church pastor of a church with a second campus ministry need to know?

  • Their support or lack of support will make or break the ministry.
  • Their encouragement to the core group is vital.
  • They should often pray publicly for the second campus.
  • They should help the mother church congregation understand the importance of outreach.
  • They should provide ways for people of the mother church to be involved with the second campus–through prayer, prayer walks, being part of the core group, taking over a core group member’s present responsibilities at the mother church, and encouraging mother church members to worship at the second campus from time to time.

What is needed to support a second campus ministry?

  • A teacher/leader
  • Consistory support
  • Church support
  • Senior pastor support
  • A core group from the mother church
  • Freedom to develop a unique ministry to reach the target group
  • People that need to be reached
  • Monetary support (although some second campus ministries can support what they do through the people in the core group)

What does it cost to start a second campus?

  • Portable sound system
  • Laptop computer
  • Video projector
  • Facility rent
  • Advertising
  • Food/fellowship expenses
  • Staffing (this can be existing church staff or lay leadership, either volunteer or paid)

What are the basic steps to take in forming a second campus?

  • Seek the assistance and resources of the area church planter
  • Pray and seek God’s leading
  • Teach kingdom expansion from the pulpit
  • Develop a missional outlook in your church
  • Identify an unreached people group in your community
  • Clearly communicate the concept of a second campus to your church
  • Form a core group to lead the ministry
  • Work with the core group to lay the foundations for the ministry
  • Open the ministry

Books and Resources