Posted on 10/30/2012 by Tim Nations in the Learnings Blog
Last week I posted the first of three articles on the launch of our Multisite Central Support InnovationLab, a one-year journey with six churches looking to expand their multisite strategy through the development of healthy support systems and structures. You can read the first post, Big Challenges, Big Questions in Multisite Central Support here. In this post we will look at four of the ‘big ideas’ that surfaced during our two days in the Leadership Network InnovationLab. Much more content was covered, but these ideas seemed to resonate with several of the teams.
Moving Beyond “With”
The move to central support is part of the overall shift from a church with multiple sites to a multisite church. During the meeting, Jim Tomberlin reminded us that only 15% of the more than 5000 multisite churches make this shift, largely due to the organizational and philosophical changes that need to take place for success. Most multisite churches are content with 2-3 locations because the majority of support for the satellite campuses can be handled relatively well by existing staff at the original campus (although long-term sustainability can become an issue). Also, remaining a “with” church seemingly affords the lead team the luxury of focusing primarily on the original site, although such an emphasis often creates a bit of friction among the other sites due to the lack of attention.
What are some of the other characteristics of churches moving beyond “with”?
- Having a dedicated multisite champion on the leadership team (not just an XP wearing the multisite hat).
- A greater regional-focus in decision making vs. original campus focused.
- Central staff dedicated to support of all campuses.
- A campus pastor at the original campus (see below).
Placing a Campus Pastor at the Original Campus
Placing a campus pastor at the original site is a critical move in a church’s effort to have a more centralized support structure. Making this move does two things:
- A campus pastor at the original site allows the senior leader to focus more globally. Trying to oversee a campus as well as the overall direction for all sites is challenging for any leader, especially as the number of sites grows. By releasing site duties to a campus pastor, the senior leader gains an increase in capacity to lead globally.
- Adding this role at the original site also serves to level the playing field (a bit) by changing the status of the original campus from the “main site” to a site among sites. This move opens the door for a scalable organizational matrix that brings balanced accountability and influence across all sites.
Strong organizational self-awareness is something that a multisite church should possess from the beginning. Organizational self-awareness goes beyond an understanding of DNA to include a set of behavioral values that aren’t preached from the pulpit or posted on the wall, but that influence the organizational direction of the church.
Kevin Penry shared that, for Lifechurch.tv, many of these behavioral values were determined through a discussion on why recent staff departures didn’t work out. As their Directional Team processed staff exits, they began to uncover these important values that served in a variety of ways, including serving as guides for their hiring processes (just ask Kevin about the ‘fart machine’).
Don’t Just Staff Central Team from Original Campus
The tendency for most churches developing a central support team is to staff the team exclusively from the original campus. Often this is done because the original site is larger and has more tenured staff to select from. However, there are two reasons this may not be the best idea:
- Doing so depletes the talent pool at the main campus. Many churches find that ministry at the original campus begins to suffer when staffing the central team in this way.
- An original campus dominant central team still won’t be able to get beyond “main campus” thinking. If central team member don’t understand what its like to be a “child” site, it will be tough for all campuses to have their voices heard and get the support they need.
From Ideas to Implementation
As each of the teams processed their learnings, a key question was asked again and again: “What does this mean for us?” In the final post of this series, we’ll take a quick look through some of the action steps these churches are taking to develop central structures.
What Have You Learned?
Are you on the road to developing a central support structure for your multisite church? What have been some ‘big ideas’ for you? How have you turned those ideas into action steps? What has the impact been for your church?
Image Credit: Success.com