All About Multisite

All About Multisite: Dotted Lines, Solid Lines, Cross Campus Unity & Easter Ideas

Welcome to our new podcast all about multisite! I’m chatting with a group of multisite ninjas and answering your questions about the ins and outs of launching new campuses. Our group is as follows:

Natalie Frisk is our family ministry expert. She is a key leader from The Meeting House. This church has 19 (!) locations and is doing all kinds of great stuff, including a killer kids’ & youth curriculum that they give away for free. Natalie’s a lot of fun and will have so many great insights around leading in a thriving multisite church.

Greg Curtis is our guest connections and assimilation expert. He leads at Eastside Christian Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the country, and literally, is the “go to” source for getting people to stick and stay in the church. (Eastside has assimilated something like 1,500 people in the last 18 months!) His coaching practice around assimilation is amazing.

Ben Stapley is our communications and service programming expert. Ben is one of the most helpful leaders I know. His day job is at Liquid Church in NJ, but he does so much to help other leaders with the “big show” part of church world.

And I, Rich, have been involved with 14 different campus launches over the years and enjoy helping churches that are thinking about multisite.

We are here to answer your questions about running a multisite church and are excited to be here today with our first episode.

Q1: When do we make the switch from a traditional stacked church staff to a matrix model?

Churches traditionally have a stacked leadership that works like a pyramid. It goes from one level to another throughout the entire organization. But multisite churches typically have two layers of staff responsible for making everything happen. They use a matrix model, which basically means that if you’re responsible for a ministry area in a campus you have two supervisors, the local campus leadership and the central staff. How those two relate to each other is a matrix, where it no longer operates on a pyramid level, but both vertically to the pastor or lead team, and horizontally to someone responsible to your specific area.

You should make the switch to the matrix staff model as soon as you can without overextending your budget. The staff will have to accept the new reality of their positions and then implement and refine that reality. It can be confusing to get used to a new system of reporting, so the sooner you make the switch, even before completing final the changes to multisite, the better. Keep communication within the staff clear and have them sit down together to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Q2: How do you keep unity across different campuses and pastors?

The common thought is that multisite churches use video to share their central message among all their campuses. But that isn’t exclusively true. There are many multisite churches that do focus on video teaching, and others that have their own individual teaching pastors at each campus, and still others that do a combination of the two. Natalie explains that at The Meeting House they’ve begun something they call “local teaching” where there is a common thread or theme among the campuses. They also provide a “quotes package” or slide templates to keep everyone connected. Among the children and youth curriculum, you can thread together common themes each month so that the campuses can share the learning experience across all ages up through adults. Campus pastors can check with each other midweek to share ideas on messages. Also, create projects for the entire church to work on together. For example, you could put together an event for the whole church to participate in, develop initiative to help less fortunate people locally or globally, or volunteer together and teach volunteerism in one central campus to draw in members from all the campuses.

Q3: What is your church doing to get ready for Easter at your campuses? How is this “big day” impacted by the fact that you’re multisite?

Easter is a “big day” where more people in the community are likely to attend church, and is an ideal time for your people to invite their friends to the services. Following Easter, put as much creative effort into your “callback” series (the series you are calling them back to after Christmas or Easter) as you would following your Christmas services. New guests will come to your church out of family obligation or tradition, but presenting a callback series in a creative way will increase your guest retention. Liquid Church will do something related to the This is Us TV series. Do what is duplicable on all campuses. For Eastside, Easter is a big baptism weekend and so they set up portable baptistries on all campuses to highlight people’s stories and encourage spontaneous baptism decisions. Lastly, celebrate Easter by creating a weekend that will appeal to the kids and draw them. Families with children will often decide to return based on their kids’ experience.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers 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 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.