One of the traditions of our new church culture is this idea of franchising—or having multiple campuses—for the same church. There seems to be pros and cons to this approach. Let me say upfront, I do understand that when you franchise a church you provide a greater outreach. There’s a footprint on the community that’s bigger and stronger. It can also help build a safe name, one that’s familiar and respected in the community. A franchise church gives access to people who may not be able to drive a long way or may not want to. There is also the benefit of greater resources that are available; the pooling of existing resources allows a dollar to go further in ministry. For example, a common youth, women’s, or men’s ministry is a good way not only to save money, but to provide more resources.
In the old days we called these “denominations.” Now that denominations have changed their names and become almost stealth, the franchising of multiple campus churches seems to be emerging. I believe the great temptation of the franchise church is to simply cut and paste programs that may or may not be culturally appropriate. I’ve been doing some reading on how to enter a community in a way that speaks to their culture. One of the main and clear principles is to listen and create something that is uniquely customized to the locale. The nature of a multi-campus church reduces the ability of the church to adapt to their specific location.