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 twelfth episode.
Opening Question: What’s something surprising that you’ve learned about leadership in the year?
- Natalie – You’re not as important as you think you are. It’s true. It’s God’s Kingdom and He’s going to continue to push through the things that need to happen and I get to be part of this cool thing.
- Greg – Two things: One is that loving relationship makes leadership almost effortless. The other one is that people actually want to grow as leaders. They want to become leaders and grow as leaders.
- Ben – The first is that I’m not as good of a leader as I thought or fancied myself to be. The second is that you can manage people you don’t love, but you can’t lead people you don’t love. If I want to draw out the best in them and help them be who they were designed to be by God, I really need to love them.
- Rich – I’ve been wrestling with the idea that as a leader, particularly in an organization where you have some staff that report to you and you have some people that work full-time, 50-60% of my job is just acquiring great staff. What can we do to ensure that onboarding experience is the best it can be? What can we do to ensure we’re finding the right people?
Question 1: When it’s a larger venue, do you start with multiple services so the volunteers can attend one and serve one, or start with one service for a while and then work up to adding the second service?
When you launch a new campus, Natalie explains from experience that volunteers and staff will develop some bad habits that need to be addressed. There will be great things that happen, but also issues that need to be corrected. One service will lead to one set of bad habits, but two services doubles that all at once. Nail the site experience before you replicate it. Refine how you run the service and then begin the second service.
Ask yourself the important questions before starting the second service: What is the capacity of the location? Natalie says that one of the worst things you could do is turn away people with kids. If your location doesn’t have capacity for kids’ classes, then it’s worth considering a second service when launching. What is the cost for prepping for two services? Do you have the volunteers needed?
When launching a campus, Greg’s church, Eastside, has always started with two services. It can help build the church and reach more people when there is more than one option. Two services will allow the volunteers to take turns serving in one and then worshipping in one. One of the issues to consider is critical mass. Consider how many people will attend at the launch of the campus and how many volunteers are needed to sustain the launch. Build critical mass through both spontaneous and organic outreach.
There are three big times of the year that you need to take into consideration when considering a new site launch: Christmas/New Year’s, Easter, and fall kickoff. These are times when new locations can be launched by starting a month or so before these seasons and then gaining the extra attendance from these holidays. Regardless of the size of your auditorium, make sure it’s set up for the size you’re expecting so it feels full.
Ben also supports launching with two locations. Teachers have the message prepped, creatives have designed content, the worship team has practiced. All have already done the hard work. The weekend just requires execution, which is the fun part that people look forward to.
It also helps to standardize marketing and communication. For example, if you have multiple locations and they all have services at 9am and 11am, it’s less confusing for people to remember what time each campus meets. If you launch with two services core volunteers serve one and attend/invite for one. It’s not just about feeding your volunteers, but also about cultivating an invite culture. With two services, you bake in a growth model.
A challenge to consider with two services where a volunteer serves at one and worships at the other is creating a space for their children for two services. It can be stressful for the parents to make their children sit through the kids’ programming twice, so consider alternatives. Perhaps this looks like children volunteering with their parents, or main services being kid-friendly so that the kids can sit with their parents instead of staying in the children’s area the whole time.
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