Archive for the ‘multi-site ministry’ Category

I don’t think it’s any mistake that I have been reading (and watching) the “Hobbit” while we as a church have been launching our 3rd campus. It’s hard not to see all the similarities. There have been times of uncertainty; times of anticipation; times of blind faith; times of re-mapping our course. There have been unlikely heroes and a few occasional dragons along the way. But we finally made it this past weekend!

For those of you who are unaware, our church, Southland Christian Church, bought a run-down mall property in Lexington, KY, about 20-25 minutes from the main campus (although we try not to say “main” campus, as that encourages a ranking system of every site when each one is very much equal). Over the course of a couple years, it has been renovated into a great building with lots of room for people. Over the course of the opening weekend, around 4,700 people attended a service at the new campus. We were blown away! The best part about it was meeting people who don’t have a church home and were just coming to check it out because it looked interesting. We want to multiply the kingdom, not add and subtract from other churches.

RR Launch-WorshipWe also launched LIFT, the middle school ministry of Southland, at the new campus during the opening weekend. We have yet to hire a Student Director for that campus, so for the time-being I have been overseeing the middle school ministry at two campuses. (Our third campus in Danville has been going strong in middle school ministry under Scott Hatfield’s leadership!). It has been a tall task to try to prepare for a large ministry launch while also building another one, but I loved the challenge. We have a great student ministry team that has poured so much time and energy into the student ministry room and the programming.

When we opened the doors on Sunday, we had more than double the amount of middle schoolers than we anticipated. We actually ran out of chairs! We were throwing couches and random seats in the back row to fit more students. It was a great problem to have. When thinking about middle schoolers and the launch of a new ministry, here are a few things I have reflected on this past week:

  1. If the adults are excited about it, the middle schoolers will be excited about it. With so much energy coming from the stage in the main service, along with our incredible volunteer launch team talking about it everywhere, students expected to be blown away when they came to LIFT at the Richmond Road new campus. They were excited before ever setting foot in the programming because we had earned their trust and excitement in other arenas. Don’t neglect or ignore the power of your staff’s and volunteers’ excitement with middle schoolers.
  2. Sneak-Peeks are gold. The week before the launch we had an open-house at the new campus for anyone to walk through and get a tour of the facilities. When they came to the student ministry room, we had music blasting, games were being played, volunteers were welcoming, and so forth. Additionally, we made an Instagram account (@LIFTRR) and put up some “sneak-peek” pictures that got students really excited.
  3. Activities and games in the room are a must-have. For a middle school guy to walk into a room and feel comfortable, he needs to have an activity to join. At that age guys are not comfortable walking into a room where there are only couches and RR Launchchairs. That’s incredibly intimidating. Encourage conversation with leaders by centering it around activities. In the new student ministry space we have foosball, an arcade basketball game, air-hockey, 4-square, and 9-Square-in-the-Air (which is by far the biggest student favorite!). Eventually we’ll have carpet ball and gaga ball as well.

I’m sure we have a lot to learn still, but these are a few lessons I will take with me for future new ministry launches. There are a lot of questions to be answered, but with the right volunteers and high energy, you can create an environment that’s attractive so middle schoolers can come and encounter Jesus in worship. Remember, the room isn’t the end; it’s only the means to an end.

(If you’re interested in how our children’s ministry is handling the launch of the new campus, check out Jason Byerly’s blog at

What would you add to that list? What are some must-haves for middle school students?