All About Multisite // Model for 2 Location Multisite? A Very Multisite Christmas?
Welcome back 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 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 seventh episode.
Opening question: If you could switch out your role for any other role in your church, what would it be?
- Natalie – Either a lead pastor role at one of our campuses or (if we had such a role) some kind of guest connections role.
- Greg – I would switch places with our teaching pastor.
- Ben -I would say something like a junior high or a grief share role—for me, those are the opportunities for some pivotal moments in people’s lives.
Q1: After several years of having a second campus, we really need a model for staff interaction. Is there a good starting point to begin to put a model in place?
Natalie said that a model is more than who reports to whom; it begins with an overarching vision. What is shared, what isn’t? What makes it a multisite other than two churches that share finances or branding? Make a list of essentials that helps guide your church to understand its identity. Get to a place with a shared program, shared structure, and shared resources. Connect on training times and create a common list of everything from setting up a classroom to supplies and toys. Natalie also advised that when you plan, don’t just plan for a few locations—plan for many locations and consider what the sites would look like ten years down the road.
Ben offered insights from a service programming perspective. First, evaluate the following: how do you help teams from a creative point of view? When you go from one to more than one, start planning your preaching calendar further in advance (e.g. plan it out in the fall for the upcoming year, and roll it out to the staff around December). To streamline communications, standardize your announcements and your events, and consider hosting just one event as a whole church instead of several smaller events which vary per site. Ben also suggested that churches move from live to video announcement, have a consistent playlist for the worship teams, and standardize social media.
Greg responded to this question with a series of questions for the executive team to reflect on. Where in the spectrum between a church plant and a campus is that church? If you’re referring to one site as the “main campus,” are the sites the same size or is one significantly larger than the other? Is there any vision for another campus? When it comes to assimilation, make it the same experience for guests at both campuses. Greg also agrees with Natalie’s praise for the power of bulk supplies—do the same thing at all campuses for economy.
Q2: With a big day like Halloween here, we figured what better thing to talk about than one of the biggest days in the church calendar—Christmas! What are you doing to get your particular church ready for this Big Day and what advice would you give with other churches as they prepare for Christmas?
Natalie said she began planning for Christmas eight months ago! When she looks at Christmas, she thinks about guests and guest families. Consider how Christmas Eve is going to be experienced by those who have never attended church before, or who may have attended church services but never attended with kids. Natalie says it’s also important to remind our communities of things like junior high—how old are your middle schoolers, and how can you reach out to them? Her church also budgets more around Christmastime as an investment that shows how they value this time of year. Lastly, Natalie reminded us to pray for people to have a meaningful experience of being reminded of who “God with us” is, being reminded of the incarnation, and being reminded of those who will be impacted in a new way by the story of the birth of our Savior. Likewise, Rich points out that Christmas still has a culture touchstone and that does push us to question how we should be preparing spiritually for that.
Ben’s church is currently employing communications strategies with his staff to keep everyone in the loop. From the service programming perspective, Ben encourages churches to continue to look outside and leverage relationships and research to prepare. It’s easy for multisite churches to see their expansion and feel like they can rest or even become lazy, and if you do that, your experiences will suffer. Enter the season with a spirit of humility and do that by looking outside your walls and keep on learning from peers at other churches. Ben also offers ideas on having a mastermind group, being transparent about creative influences, and the significant value of brainstorming meetings (and how to creatively consider who you can bring to the table.)
Greg likens Christmas to the church’s version of the Super Bowl since there is no other weekend where we have as big an outreach and as high attendance as this. He gives practical tips on how to utilize lighting and sound properly in the common areas at holiday time so they aren’t distracting, how to involve children and families, how to avoid lines at guest services, and how to give a gift that matters. Greg points out that Christmas guests are different than regular guests, so you have to engage with them differently as well as use a different follow-up process and procedure. Remember that Christmas guests didn’t necessarily come on Christmas because they are looking for a church, they came because it’s Christmas and perhaps family invited them. He explains how his team handwrites a notecard and sends a gift to arrive after New Year’s Day rather than immediately after Christmas when people are more focused on spending time with loved ones than looking for a church. Follow up with a great series and start advertising that series on Christmas, with a reminder in the guest follow-up after New Year’s Day.
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