Three Reasons for Microsite Campuses

By Allen White

A few days ago, I introduced the idea of the Microsite Church here on the blog. These are video “campuses” just like a multisite campus, except they can meet in much smaller places. Here are three reasons to consider them:

1. A Geographical Reason.

The planning, budget and staff needed to launch a multisite campus in either a permanent or rented facility is quite an investment. While launching a campus in a small city or metropolitan area is a no brainer, launching in a small town or a rural community is indeed more of a “brainer.”

If a church will repurpose the content currently used for its multisite campuses into a living room friendly version, a campus can meet in any town in any place in the world. In fact, a microsite campus could be the trial balloon for a multisite campus down the road or it can be a tool to reach a community that you haven’t reached before.

2. A Demographic Reason.

Microsite campuses don’t have to be limited to remote areas. Think about how a microsite campus could serve even in a community that already has a multisite campus. Why would you need them?

Getting to church is hard for some people. Job schedules, special needs children, health issues and other reasons make it difficult to travel or maybe even to fit in at a large campus. With microsite, you can bring the service to them.

Some might object by asking why an online campus couldn’t serve them just as well. I am all in favor of using the internet to reach people. In fact, I had an online small group on CompuServe in 1992. But watching a service online is much different than worshipping in a community of believers. Issues that isolate people shouldn’t keep them out of a church community either. Microsite campuses are certainly a possible solution.

3. A Political Reason.

I spent some time with the pastors of an awesome, rapidly growing megachurch in a metropolitan area recently. They are reaching the lost in powerful ways. But, there is one limiting factor — their city won’t allow them to build on the 400 acres they actually own! The political climate is completely unfavorable. Multisite could be the answer, but in this political environment, that could be shot down too.

I made an offhand remark to them. My friends would be disappointed if I hadn’t. I said, “Maybe it’s time to just go underground.” I know that thought seems radical and extreme. It’s something we might imagine only under a dictator or a Communist regime. But, let’s face it, the church has lost the culture war and is living in an exceedingly secular climate.

Microsite could serve two purposes here. The first is unbelievers who are invited to a microsite could not only experience the service, but see the Gospel lived out in the lives of the group gathered at the campus. Rather than watching the service projected on a large screen, their experience is more up close and personal.

Second, it’s not illegal anywhere that I know of to have a dozen or so people over to your house. Some HOA’s might have parking restrictions. You’d have to abide by that, but it’s not impossible. Campuses would only be limited by the number of willing members who would open their homes to one.

The final reason to consider microsite is that one the code is cracked for your first microsite campus, you have a unit of one. If it can work in one home, it can work in many homes.

There are more thoughts to think and things to discuss. Join in on the conversation. I’d love to hear from you.

Related Posts:

The Rise of the Microsite Church

NewSpring Launches Microsite Campuses This Year

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  1. #1 by jmyers5326 on February 15, 2015 - 5:21 pm

    So, what’s the difference between MicroSite, MicroCampus, and the “old” House Church model?

    It seems to me the future is in MicroCampuses! A MicroCampus is a group that has multiple sacred places of meeting whether in homes, bars, church buildings, community service centers, or wherever!

    • #2 by Allen White on February 15, 2015 - 6:00 pm

      Microsite and MicroCampus are looking like the same thing. I think the main difference with House Church is that a MicroCampus is tied to a larger multisite church. MicroCampus uses video from a larger church service as well as staff and central support. MicroCampus is also different from the “Viewing Parties” promoted by LifeChurch.tv. more on this in a later post.

  2. #3 by Andrew on February 24, 2015 - 6:29 am

    Pursuing the MicroSite/MicroCampus is extremely attractive to those of us would like to see viral, exponential expansion of the Church. Moving to a “distributed network” of smaller, more flexible gatherings could be a key to reinventing/destroying some old sacred cows in the US/Western church context. Two of those sacred cows:

    1. Who really is the pastor? – With the potential for someone to establish a MicroSite of Seacoast or The Cove or Rock Church or Saddleback in Bangor, Maine, who is really the pastor? The MicroSite phenomenon brings with it some important questions about identifying gift mixes of the people that are gathering and also some incredibly important questions about training/discipleship/building competencies into the community who have gathered. “Who really is the Pastor” is just one question that bubbles up. Is the point really just to gather and watch a video service, or is the point to take this opportunity to further expand and express the Kingdom by participating in the great Commission?

    2. Church brand promotion/expansion – Mega churches, or any church that would extend its impact and influence through MicroSite, MUST give up its attachment to its particular brandname expanding. A MicroSite has the potential to develop into its own thing. To develop its own sense of identity and particular mission to its local context, and hopefully it actually will. This potential must be recognized by the larger “sending” church. I think sometimes that churches that promote MicroSites or VideoCampuses have an ulterior motive of expanding their brand. If this desire exists in the “sending” church, I fear that it will will severely limit, harm and potentially destroy whatever Kingdom momentum/activity that God might be building through this strategy.

    Any thoughts?

    • #4 by Allen White on February 24, 2015 - 9:32 am

      Andrew,

      Thanks for your intelligent comments on this post. Like I mentioned in the post, this is all a work in progress, so it’s all wet cement at this point. The pastor question raises an interesting issue since “pastor” has taken on so many different dimensions over the centuries. In this century, “pastor” is probably more like CEO than anything else. But, if we take this back to the root of “shepherd,” then I feel that definition fits the microsite campus well.

      I do have to differ with you on the “brand name” issue. While there is always the risk of multiplying campuses like setting up dominoes which are prone to tumble, I believe the culture of say a NewSpring or Seacoast brings to a campus environment does a lot. I agree with you that a microsite campus shouldn’t just be a bunch of people sitting around to watch TV. There should be a call to action. The “brand” carries with it the mission, vision and values of the church as a whole as well as providing resources for adults, students and children. I don’t have all of the answers for this. We’ll see what happens next!

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.

      Allen

  3. #5 by Mingo Palacios on May 20, 2017 - 12:58 am

    I appreciate the perspectives on this thread. I developed the microsite ministry at the Rock Church… and actually gave it the name… (Microsite – while reporting on our findings the week after easter in 2013.)

    The who is the pastor question is a valid one. We used to train volunteer leaders to be the “hosts” of their sites. They are the face associated with the place. Much like a multisite pastor is the host for that space. If the culture is developed to reflect leaders as servants… then the site pastor is the biggest servant of them all. That’s how we led our groups. Microsites have an elusive “sex-appeal” from the outside looking in, but they are raw, trench like ministries when they are aimed at people and communities in the margins. That was always our effort. Highly missional. Never just an excuse to not get off the couch. We’ve hosted in bars, college dorms, laundromats, gyms, military bases, mission fields, prisons, street corners, AA facilities, parking lots, public parks, beaches… wherever there are people… we see potential.

    as far as the “brand push” concern… I’ll tell you up front that my concern for 3 years week in week out wasn’t to set up our banner but to create a space where God’s banner was easy to find and accessible to anyone brave enough to try out our microsite. God elevates that which amplifies His name with the most genuine heart. I don’t think people who actually execute microsites (or at least the 36 teams that went into the wild each week that I got to serve) ever cared about the brand… they were Jesus loving, local church planting, prayer warriors who made the concept of church available for lots of people found in the margins, for whatever reason that was.

    I have an instagram account that documents our microsite efforts if you ever want to talk more on the topic. I’m happy to share. Blessings!

    Mingo Palacios
    Microsites Founder – Rock Church (2006-2016)
    Pastor of Culture & Evangelism – Saddleback Church (2016-current)

    • #6 by Allen White on May 20, 2017 - 7:19 am

      Mingo, thanks for jumping into the conversation. I only heard of your work with microsites after our conversations with Seacoast (December 2012) and Newspring in 2015. Microsites seem to have very different purposes. As you stated at Rock Church, microsites were used to reach different cultural audiences. At NewSpring microsites have been used as trial balloons called House Campuses to test the viability of building a permanent campus in a particular city. I also understand that at one time Life.Church promoted what they called Viewing Parties in homes across the country.

      I definitely see this as an on-going development and a great tool to win people to Christ. Thanks for adding your part of the story.

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