All About Multisite // Mergers & Rebirths Plus Free Downloadable Resources For You!
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Welcome back to our monthly All About Multisite podcast! 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 the Weekend Experience Director at Christ Fellowship in Miami, 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 eleventh episode.
Open Question: Where do you find new volunteers to help fuel your ministry area?
- Natalie – I have a couple of different answers for that in our context. One is we literally raise them up. Luckily in kids and youth ministry we can start kids when they are young. And two is invite your friend, bring someone along with you.
- Greg – We have an ongoing process that through our steps they meet a ministry leader and sign up right then. What benefits us every month in assimilation ministry is they’re experiencing the environment they would serve in.
- Ben – I hit organizationally and then departmentally. We’re training for our teen nights, so for us that will be two birds with one stone where it’s going to be a training and recruitment time, high energy, high fun. The other tip is maybe every other year do a teaching service on volunteerism, giving back.
Question 1: What should we expect as we look to the future with our expansion? What advice should we consider as we look to mergers in the future?
A third of all new campuses are happening because of a merger. Ben advises to understand where your church is and how they are perceived in the local community before going down this road. How will other people perceive you when you reach out to them? Make the potential partnership a clear win-win where you are helping the other congregation and allowing them to learn from you even if they don’t merge with you. It will be a helpful journey for the church either way for the pastor and the congregation so they don’t have to feel threatened.
Having distinct clarity in as many areas as possible is important so that leadership from both churches come to the table and says they are all in this together. There are so many things to consider when it comes to a merger. Natalie warns that when you’re merging with a church that has been around for a long time there will be a lot of sacred cows that need to be sacrificed, even in the children’s ministry. Everyone needs to come to the same place, in everything from children’s ministry to security and all parts of the church.
Greg describes an 8 to 12 month process his church uses for mergers:
- Have a conversation with the pastor, which is always initiated by the pastor. The conversation is very candid and does not gloss over the difficulties ahead.
- Buy in from board. Eastside has had experiences where the pastor is all in, but the board not so much and the congregation voted against merging.
- An interest meeting that is open to the entire church. The church members all come for dinner in their fellowship hall and we show videos of other churches that we’ve been able to reboot with this process and we share our vision.
- Read the book Better Together by Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird. It covers the area of the spiritual, social, political, and fiscal issues.
- Preview Service. Greg’s church sends their team over to the other church to do a worship service and includes all assimilation elements so the church can experience what would happen if they did merge with Eastside.
- The church has to vote.
- Determining the vote goes well, how many volunteers and staff will you need for critical mass for this campus? Greg’s group starts with 3 full-time staff: campus pastor, weekend experience director, and associate pastor.
- They have a final service and celebrate a mutual legacy.
- Construction phase. Installing audio/visual equipment, etc.
Question 2: Do you have a tool you could share with our listeners?
Greg offers a link to Climbing the Assimalayas: Becoming Sherpas in People’s Journey to Connect. This PDF gives advice on connecting with guests and helping them connect and grow into the volunteer program at your church. With the assimilation follow up checklist in the PDF, Greg converts it into a checklist form on his computer and during meetings they check off what they’ve done. They are then able to see what still needs to be tackled and can make a plan for each item left.
Natalie offers help for home churches and making them kid friendly, as a lot of families are struggling with their kids being happy about going to home church. She offers three documents: Family Friendly Home Church Purpose, Family Friendly Home Church Sample Models, and Family Friendly Home Church Supply List.
Ben offers a link to the Bumper Checklist. The bumper is the 30-60 second video that usually plays before a message. It introduces the topic and practically speaking, it allows production teams to reset the stage in the dark. Great bumpers are a significant financial investment from you’re creative department. So you’ll want to make sure they’re as effective as possible. Here is a checklist to do just that.
Rich shares the link to 6 Dirty Secrets about Multisite Churches That (Almost) No-one is Talking About. If your church is thinking about doing multisite, this could be the kind of resource you could use with your team to get them thinking about multisite. Or if you’re already doing multisite, you could also use it with your team to flesh out some problems you may currently be having.
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[…] among church leaders nationwide. A sizable number of multisite churches are considering merging and one recent study revealed that a third of all multisite church campuses exist because of a […]