Finding Facilities for Multisite Campuses

By | Real Estate Resources

Today there are more than 5,000 multisite churches in America. That means that ten percent of Protestants attend a multisite church. Churches located in population centers of more rural areas are looking to multisite campuses as their strategy to reach more people. 

As a church considers multisite expansion, they must be able to articulate WHY they are launching a multisite campus. We encourage church leaders to get guidance from the experts to evaluate the process and equip your team with the tools you need to launch effectively. 

Jim Tomberlin and the Multisite Search

Jim Tomberlin pioneered multisite expansion in Colorado in the mid-’90s and has since used his experience and wisdom to serve churches through his company Multisite Solutions.  

Jim tells churches that the #1 decision for a successful launch is finding the right campus pastor. Then, he says the biggest obstacle is finding the right church facility. 

As a strategic partner, we help churches locate space as they prepare to launch. If you are planning to launch a multisite campus, here are things to consider as it relates to a facility.

  • Define your Target Area – Before securing a facility, we need to determine the right target area. A general rule of thumb is to start a campus 15 to 30 minutes away from the sending campus. In a rural area, the campuses might be one hour away. The time and distance may vary based on the community you are in. In more rural settings, many of the people drive further distances to work throughout the week, so a long drive on a Sunday is not as big of an issue. We will help you think strategically and missionally about the right location and how it relates to the sending campus.  
  • Define your Budget – Most churches that are launching are keeping their ears open for opportunities. Looking for options to merge, rent, or purchase a church building are all front of mind. Like a church that is considering a relocation or expansion, you must begin with a budget in mind. Too many times, we have worked with a church that wants to launch a campus in a specific location, but they have not first determined what the funding mechanism or internal budget guidelines will be. Do this first, and you will be prepared the moment a great opportunity arises.    
  • Know the Market in the Target Area – Failure to understand the market in the target area is a critical mistake churches make when they announce they are going multisite. Securing a facility in one city may cost $500,000, while it may cost $2,000,000 in another town. Announcing to your congregation that you will launch in a city before knowing the market realities can set you up for a momentum-killing false start. Some churches are reluctant to start in a rented facility, and if that is your situation, then you need to know the market and the options available before announcing your launch.
  • Patiently Prepare – Sometimes, visionary leaders want to launch and get started too quickly.  It is not always right to go multisite. If you are in the middle of a building program or are planning towards an on-campus expansion, it may not be appropriate to send 100 to 200 people out to launch a campus. We had the privilege to serve The Village Church as we searched for their Plano Campus.  As we searched, the leadership team and the Plano staff team waited patiently for the right building to come along. They did not wait passively. In the 24+ months that we searched for a facility, TVC grew to 53 home groups that met in homes in Plano and the neighboring cities. This enabled the Plano Campus to open in September of 2014, with 2,000 people attending the campus almost immediately. 
  • Start in a Rented Facility – Most multisite church campuses start in a rented facility. Are you prepared to launch in a school, hotel, or community center? Launching in a portable space is a great way to launch, and it allows you time to see what size facility you need. We highly recommend that you talk to our friends at Portable Church to learn how you can create YOUR space in a temporary venue. The team at Portable Church can equip you with what you need to make a portable space identifiable to your sending campus. 
    • Rule – “A temporary space does not have to be IDENTICAL to the sending campus, but it does need to be IDENTIFIABLE” – Scott Cougill, Portable Church
  • Get the right tool – The building is a tool of your ministry. As we evaluate facilities, we need to know how the campus will function, and if other ministry programs need to happen on-site throughout the week. Will your campus be a full-fledged campus, or will it just be a venue?  

Expanding to Multisite is Personal

In 2011, we wrote a post asking if multisite was a “strategy or a solution.”  Many times, multisite searches began as a solution to a facility problem. Over the years, multisite has developed into a proven strategy to take the church beyond the walls of the existing building. It is often better stewardship to launch a campus than to build bigger buildings. So the answer may not be, Is Multisite a Strategy or a Solution; maybe the question needs to be more personal. Should your church go multisite? Is it a strategy for your church to reach more people with the Gospel? If it is a strategy for your church, then we implore you to begin with intentionality. Develop a plan and know why you are pursuing multisite. Seek wisdom and experience from those who have launched and develop a plan that is specific to your church. 

Connect With Us for Help Buying a Church Facility

My friend Will Mancini from Auxano says it like this. “Vision transfers through people, not paper.” If you are preparing to launch, get the vision of your multisite strategy in the hearts of your people. This will allow your people to launch with you and take ownership of the vision to take the Gospel beyond a building.  We encourage you to seek guidance from the leaders mentioned here, and if you are ready to develop your plan and consider your multisite facilities, then email us at for a free consultation.

Church Planting and Funding a Worship Facility: What Will it Cost? | Church Realty

Church Planting and Funding a Worship Facility: What Will It Cost?

By | Real Estate Resources

Today’s economy requires churches to have specific funds set aside for ministry and facilities. When church planting, the start-up phase requires support from outside groups. It also requires the planter to be a good steward of the limited funds available.

From the beginning of your church plant, we encourage planters and their leaders to set aside funds to buy future church facilities. Part of being a good steward requires discipline in how we use ministry funds to accomplish the work of the church. As guests and members tithe and engage in ministry, they trust that the leadership of the church will use that money in the best way to further the kingdom. A healthy budget at the start, written down, will guide you and serve you well as you grow.

Church Planting and Funding Facilities | Church Realty | North Texas and Houston

How much is enough?

When church planting, people often ask, “How much money should we be saving?” This question generally comes after we discuss setting up a building fund. The answer to the question is not a set answer for every church. Each group is different and every budget is unique. 

My response to most churches is, “Save every dollar you can.” 

You can’t be wrong to start by saving 10 percent and setting it aside as savings. Later on, it may not be a building fund; it may be a rainy day fund. If you are saving money specifically for a building fund, We encourage the church to set a consistent amount aside each month to show discipline in saving.

Setting aside funds will help when a lender sees that a church has consistently paid a lease or a mortgage in addition to putting away dollars for the future. Moving into a lease space may require significant funds to renovate a space, and if you are preparing to purchase, then you will need to have 20 to 30 percent in cash to get a loan.

Spending Needs vs. Saving

In any discussion of saving cash, it is wise to make sure you understand your spending allocation. Let’s categorize your spending into three buckets; Staffing, Facilities, and Programming.  Having a plan on paper from the start will help you set aside funds as you grow.

  • Staffing – This is generally 50 percent of a church budget. Early on when planting a church, you may intentionally keep this cost low by being bi-vocational, and by using volunteers as opposed to paid staff. If you can keep staffing low, then you can better invest in the ministry programs and the location you secure.
  • Facilities – A healthy target is 25 percent of your budget. Many people will use a number closer to 33 percent, but that will tend to put more pressure on your budget. Again, if you can reduce the staffing expense, then you may be able to allocate a little more for your facilities.
  • Programming – This is the ministries you offer. 20 – 25 percent is a good target.  As you reach into the community, events and curriculum for your church will cost money. Programming may also include supporting other ministries or church plants that are important to your church.

Looking at the three buckets above, it is important to point out that you can surpass the suggested percentage in one bucket and make the other two work, but if you go too high in two buckets, then the remaining bucket will suffer. 

A Real-Life Example

The following example is a real story:

XYZ Church had been open for 5+ years. During that time, they were able to use a great location for $1,500 per month. 

Early on, I met with this church and explained that the market area was expensive and recommended they save cash for a future lease or a building purchase. The pastor explained that their mindset was “every dollar in, every dollar out.” I encouraged him to increase his facility expense by paying the church building fund a consistent amount every month over and above the $1,500 they spent for their Sunday rent. 

Fast-forward four years; the perfect building, a building this church prayed for, became available. The owner was willing to offer seller finance. However, the seller reviewed the church finances as a banker would. In the end, the seller could not reconcile the church’s financial position and would not finance the deal. This church had a strong income of well over $500,000 per year. Their facilities bucket was less than 3.5 percent of the budget, and everything else went to staffing and ministries. The result was that the owner was not willing to get into a seller-financed deal.

Had this church set aside the extra $10,000+ per month that a healthy church would have, they would have saved $480,000+ over four years. With that money in the bank, the church would not have missed this opportunity.

The Lesson to Be Learned

The funds that you set aside are often considered to be a “building fund.” Your church leadership must understand that not only do you need to have cash set aside for capital improvements or purchase, but the church must also have cash set aside for at least six months of reserves for the ministry to run. Most lenders will require a church to have a reserve fund that will sustain a church during a downturn in the economy. When church planting or growing a church, your organization is likely spending every dollar on ministry, stretching to make ends meet. As these churches grow, many seek to add staff to handle the growth.  

There is great wisdom in keeping expenses low and setting aside money as early as you can to prepare to house the new growth.

Set Your Church on the Right Path; We Can Help

This discussion can be a daunting one for many churches. We encourage every church we work with to get a clear understanding of their financial picture. 

If you need an advisor to meet with you and help you get a financial plan together, contact Church Realty, and we will assist you in getting to the right person for your ministry. It may be a CPA in your church or a CPA that serves churches every day. Either way, it is critical to your ministry that the finances are in order and that the ministry plan has a corresponding financial plan to meet the needs of the church. 

As a pastor, you have a great responsibility to guard the gifts given by the people and to use what is brought to the storehouse to the Glory of God and to accomplish the mission that we have been given. Seek wisdom and counsel so that every financial decision is missionally directed and ministry driven.


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