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7 principles for launching multiple worship venues, campuses and times

| by Bob Whitesel

For 20-plus years I’ve seen that offering culturally different worship encounters can help connect more cultures in a community to God. But, adding a new worship encounter has its caveats.

Here is my short list that I use to help clients see the basics of multiple worship encounters.

First, there are two equally important goals.

GOAL 1:  The first goal is the Great Commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Thus, getting new attendees into small groups where they can grow along with others is a major objective.

GOAL 2: The second goal of a new worship service is to create a culturally relevant worship encounter. It is not a performance, nor a time to create mini-celebrities. It is a time to foster an encounter with God.

Everything should revolve around these two goals. If it does, then here is the short list of things you must do to create a new worship encounter for an existing church.

Here are the key principles for starting a new service:

1.  The people who design a new worship encounter should demonstrate that they are missionaries to that culture, or that they are from the culture you are reaching out to.

2.  Ensure you can financially sustain a new service for 18 months before you launch it.

3. Make sure you have duplicate leadership too (start training them now, telling them that soon we will launch a new service and they will lead it).

4.  Pick a venue that will be at around 35 percent full with your projected attendance.

5.  Have small groups (Sunday school, etc.) ready before or after all worship encounters.

6.  Keep the worship encounters to 50 minutes total (with 15-20 minutes between services) if you can.

7.  Also, make sure your overall attendance is at least 100 before you start a new service.

  • Then ask 50 people to agree to come to the new service for one year (make a covenant to do this, usually written).
  • At the end of that time, they must either recruit someone to take their place or re-up for another year. The idea is to create the minimum number of attendees necessary for worship to break out in a larger gathering: usually 35-plus people.
  • Thus, with 50 committed, you will usually have 35 in attendance and your new service can grow.

Photo source: istock 

Bob Whitesel

Bob Whitesel (D.Min., Ph.D.) is a sought after speaker, church health consultant and award-winning writer of 13 books on missional leadership, church change and church growth. He is founding professor and former professor of missional leadership of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. He also holds two earned doctorates (D.Min. and Ph.D.) from Fuller Theological Seminary where he was awarded “The Donald McGavran Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Church Growth.” His website is

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