Leaders who have waded into the multisite waters quickly recognize that multisite changes everything. In a similar fashion, everything in multisite changes when a church moves beyond 3 or 4 locations. This reality is a key factor behind that fact that fewer than 20% of all multisite churches expand beyond 3 locations. To maintain momentum and maximize effeciencies in a growing multisite church, leaders need key systems and structures in place to adequately resource and equip all locations, not to mention the organizational and philosophical shifts that must accompany them.
Shared Services Facts
Multisite churches widely use a “central support” or “shared services” approach to manage matters that overlap between campuses. What falls under the umbrella of shared services varies, but based on data from last year’s Leadership Network/Generis Multsite Scorecard Report, the top shared services include:
- Human resources (94%) (defined as staffing, salaries, benefits, staff guidelines, information services, and/or information technology)
- Accounting (93%) (contributions, payables, donor management, etc.)
- Communications (90%)
- Long-distance missions (78%)
- Preaching/teaching (74%)
- Worship arts (62%) (stage, graphics, props, video, PowerPoint, etc.)
A majority of churches (66%) begin a shared services emphasis about their second campus. The rest do so about the time they launch their third, fourth, or fifth campus. Only 14% say they have not yet established shared services, and those are churches who, on average, became multisite four years ago and have three campuses. In general, the larger the overall attendance, the more well-defined the shared services structure.
2 Keys for Developing Shared Services
There are a variety of effective shared services models in multisite today. As the multisite model has evolved and diversified, so has the need for systems and structures that flex and adapt. Regardless of the model, there are two keys for developing shared services that fuel campus growth at your church:
1. Understanding Your Church’s Culture. As I’ve heard it said, “Culture eats structure for breakfast.” You can develop the most innovative and intricate structure, but if it doesn’t match your culture, it will fail. A thorough understanding of your church’s culture involves clarity on a variety of issues, including where you fall along the following continuums:
- Control vs. Freedom
- Efficiency vs. Creativity
- Uniformity vs. Individuality
2. Understanding Your Church’s Needs. Every multisite church is at a different point in its lifecycle. Likewise, each campus within a multisite church falls on a different point along its developmental path. Depending on what stage it is in, a multisite church and its individual campuses will have differing needs requiring different levels of support from shared services. These needs tend to fall into three categories:
Multisite leaders should keep both of these factors in mind when developing and maintaining shared services. Doing so allows for the maximization of energy and resources, leading to the multiplication of Kingdom impact.
HUB: Multisite – Developing a Model that Works
In order for leaders to develop a model that works, they should invest time and energy into two ongoing activities:
- Internal exploration. Monitoring momentum, understanding culture and needs, and maximizing leadership is a constant evaluative process that will assist leaders in developing and maintaining shared services that work.
- External investigation. Understanding the nuances involved in the variety of multisite models today, leaders are well served to spend time investigating and understanding effective models of shared services from other churches and industries.
HUB: Multisite brings clarity to shared services by creating an environment and experience where multisite leaders can be guided through internal exploration and external investigation alongside expert thinkers and experienced practitioners. Through this dynamic, collaborative 12-month experience, we will be diving into this and other important topics with churches across North America, giving you a chance to meet with expert thinkers and experienced practitioners to exchange ideas, gain insights, and accelerate results. To learn more about HUB, click on the button below.