by Jac La Tour

When I called up Jackie Vance, Chief Financial Officer of Harbor Church in San Diego, to ask her about multi-site churches, I told her I was just a beginner on the subject. “Don’t worry,” she replied, “Most people don’t know much about church plants, including those planting them!”

But if anyone knows the ins and outs of multi-sites, it’s Jackie. Harbor Church has eight church plants, with one more coming this year.

If your church is in the beginning stages of church planting—or even if it is in your distant future—there is a lot to learn from those that have gone before us.

Jackie agreed to share from Harbor’s experience and contribute to several blog posts addressing various aspects of church planting. Today, she offers an inside scoop on the realities of multi-sites. I asked her, “What are some of the biggest challenges of church plants?”

Here are some of the hurdles that Jackie says church plants regularly face:

  • Keeping the structure on pace with the growth. Harbor tries to keep the structure behind the growth to stay cost effective. “We don’t want to build structure too soon, so we try to keep it as fluid and simple as possible,” Jackie says.
  • Holding congregational meetings is very challenging. (But worth the effort to stay united.)
  • Making leadership decisions—the larger the leadership group, the more difficult it is to make decisions and maintain unity.
  • Managing multiple budgets within one central entity.
  • Collecting tithes from each site. (Harbor has a courier drive to each location to pick up the money and take it to a bank.)
  • Reimbursing employees and volunteers. Because Harbor doesn’t use credit cards, reimbursements are a big part of their accounting process. Not having one central site makes this more challenging, though.
  • Paying musicians and childcare workers is also difficult because of the various sites.

Want to hear more about any of these challenges? Leave a comment asking Jackie for more details on what interests you.

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