Unreasonable Churches

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] New Leaders & Volunteers Help Unreasonable Church to Launch 5 New Campuses at Once

The first quintuplets known to have survived infancy were born on May 28, 1934 near the village of Corbeil in Ontario, Canada. The five daughters were born in a farmhouse and kept warm in wicker laundry baskets borrowed from neighbors. After a few months with their parents, the five girls were made wards of the government of Ontario, who built a house for the quintuplets that became a tourist attraction.

From 1936 to 1943, around 3,000,000 people visited the observation gallery of the outdoor playground. The tourist trap was called “Quintland” and became the biggest attraction in Ontario, visited even more than the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The Dionne Quintuplets became one of the biggest stories of the Depression Era.

People flock to see the new and different. In the late 1930s, no one had ever heard of quintuplets. As the North American church growth movement has exploded in the last 25 years, many churches have been “birthed.” But who would give birth to “church quintuplets?” It’s the unreasonable church that launches five infant churches at once.

Slow Growth to Staggering Growth

Pastor Kevin Myers and a small core group launched 12Stone Church in Atlanta, Georgia in 1987. It took seven years for the church to grow to 200 members, and 14 more years before it grew to 1,500 attendees. Before their latest launch, the church met at four campuses with around 20,000 members. In 2010, Outreach Magazine named 12Stone the number one fastest growing church in America.

The church’s DNA is centered in three components: Spiritual intensity, creative ideation, and leadership development. They are concerned for the lost (they will do anything to reach them), the least (they want to give themselves away and serve them), and leadership (raising the next generation to be leaders).

Since 2007, 12Stone’s blistering growth has been fueled by the launches of multiple church sites. In each of the first few launches, they aimed for 350 attendees but quickly found that 750 was a better estimate at the number of seats needed for the new church start-ups.

As they evaluated their next move from four campuses toward more growth, they knew that it was time to launch more campuses. They began working out the logistics of new locations. A new location always meant growth from momentum. When a new site was launched, newcomers came in waves. But they also wanted the members at all four campuses to be affected. They didn’t want the new start-ups to be a side event in the church’s life where just a handful of members were active. They wanted investment from the entire church at the various sites, even though all would feel the loss of members at the home site as a result of the launch. Could new launches inspire less active members to step up and volunteer for the responsibilities left vacant because of the launch?

The church learned from the earlier site launches that they could launch multiple campuses for millions of dollars less than starting just one. The new sites each had a three-phase growth plan. Phase one would be a temporary rented facility. Phase two would be to grow the campus and maximize the rented facility. And the third phase would be to seek 24/7 buildings for ministry, whether a long term lease or physically building from the ground up. Working multiple launches together would be good stewardship of church resources.

In a similar way, teamwork was a significant consideration. If the church launched more than one campus at a time, the campus pastors, worship leaders, and staff could train together, encourage each other, and learn together as they launched. This planning and preparation was guided along by Pastor Myers’ vision to launch five church sites in the next five years.

Church Pioneers Step Up

As a result of this planning and preparation, 12Stone prayerfully decided to do the unreasonable: they would launch five new campuses simultaneously, increasing their total number of campuses to nine. They spent nearly two years praying and preparing for the launch. Primarily, the planning involved the mobilization of five sets of pastors and staff for the five launches. Raising leaders was always at the heart of 12Stone’s culture, so they already had three available campus ministers from within the church. Two more campus pastors were sought from a network of churches familiar to 12Stone.

Preparation also meant replacing the many leaders and volunteers who would be moving from existing church sites to the new launches. 1,700 adults were moving to the new campuses, many of who were leaders and high-level volunteers. To replace that many people, 12Stone emphasized that this was a “pioneer” movement for the entire church. Some of the “pioneers” were leaving for the new start-ups, but the “sending pioneers” needed to fill the gaps that were left behind. They encouraged the “senders” to step up and serve.

Having learned many things from 12Stone’s previous campus start-ups, the church knew that being much more involved in the process of the new churches and more centralized in leadership would create healthier campuses. When the church launched the second, third, and fourth campuses, they had more of a hands-off approach. As the team applied what they learned from earlier launches and realized that adding five new sites at once would more than double their locations, 12Stone began the process of establishing better communication, better leadership training, and consistent campus feedback even before the new sites launched.

Quintuplets Are Born

12Stone successfully launched all five campuses on the same Sunday in January 2015. This unique event was covered by local news, providing even more publicity and adding to the numbers of people who came. The long process of replacing church volunteers was also a success. The “sending pioneers” stepped up and have filled in the gaps. Launching five sites at once was an incredible achievement, but many of the new leaders and volunteers may not have risen to the occasion without the new campuses.

To read more about this quintuplet church plant and stories of other UNREASONABLE CHURCHES, visit http://www.UnreasonableChurches.com[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”373″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Rich Birch has been involved in church leadership for over 20 years. Early on he had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,500 people in 6 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, as well as on the Lead Team at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing communities of New Jersey.


Rich speaks at conferences like Orange, WFX and various regional multisite church events. He’s a featured writer on Auxano’s Vision Room, ChurchLeaders.com and MinistryBriefing. He’s honored to blog and podcast weekly at unSeminary.com


Rich is married to Christine and together they parent two wonderful teens, Haley and Hunter. Collectively they try to keep their dog, Rory, from chewing everything that lands on the floor.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]