All About Multisitemultisite

All About Multisite // Tips for Adding a 4th Location & Campus Pastor Essentials

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 eighth episode.

Opening question: We tend to think about gifts as we go into this holiday season, so if you could give one gift to every church leader who was tuning in, what would that gift be?

  • Natalie – To go and take a Sunday to visit another church.
  • Greg – A minimum one-month sabbatical (or a weekly sabbath if you don’t have a sabbatical policy at your church)
  • Ben –Greg stole my answer! But my back-up would be a subscription to Audible.
  • Richto give people a chance to have actual friends in ministry to connect with and have those real conversations with

Q1: We’re about to go to our fourth campus, and it will be a mobile campus at a school where we have to set up/tear down each week.  As the communication director, what am I in for?

Two campuses from Natalie’s church meet at school locations, and most of the campuses hold mid-week youth programs at schools. She finds that signage is the essential key for success when launching a portable site. Signs that point out where to go and what to do are so important for new guests and for parents who drop their kids off at various classrooms—you want to make sure people don’t feel lost. Natalie strongly encourages your guest connections people or host team to bring those new guests all the way through the site—not just once but throughout the beginning of new-here vistors’ journey with your church.  Lastly, be sure to keep your signage up until parents have picked up their children from a classroom. That should be a given, but since signs are so easy to pull down so quickly, we usually take them down right away so we feel like we’re ahead of schedule in packing up. This is a real no-no—you want to help parents know where their children are so they can pick up their kids!

Natalie’s tip of the day:  Have a small label at the end of a rolled-up sign so that you know what the sign is for! It might sound silly, but it’s the ultimate timesaver. Laminate small signs—and always be sure to use wall-safe tape when you’re using a rental site.

Ben says to make sure all of your communication pieces are all portable, minimal, and storable—storability is key! Don’t cheap out on your portable solutions. Sure, in your permanent locations, you can spend less since you worry less about wear and tear, but that doesn’t work when you’re setting up and tearing down every weekend. He advises enlisting the help of an agency that can help you navigate the process and avoid otherwise costly mistakes. Also, be aware of any­ communications limitations and zoning laws from your local municipality and local host site. Lastly, be ready to invest in A-frames—you’re going to need those things all over the place, so budget for them now!

Ben’s best tip: Design your communication for a new guest that is a parent running late and they forgot their coffee. If you design your signage for that person then you’re going to hit everybody. Once you feel like you’ve gotten all of your signage needs identified, double them.

From a guest connections point of view, position your welcome desk critically and invest in proper signage.  Ensure the right people are available to guests during teardown. A lot of the best communication and connection moments happen right after a service. If you color code signs, make them loud and clear. Greg also suggests that portable sites learn to leverage social media in a specific, powerful way—always make sure you announce how to find out more! Move away from the personal phone call to texting and the benefits of using a service like Google Voice.

Greg’s best tip: Have a great all-access tour as part of your assimilation program. Invite your guests to see what happens behind the scenes at the portable site—they want to be familiar and see how everything works together.

Q2:  We all know that campus pastors are a critical piece of the whole multisite journey, so how would you describe the perfect campus pastor?

Since Greg’s church brings in the teaching via video from the hub, he eliminates teaching ability from his description of the perfect campus pastor. Greg focuses on qualities from the StrengthsFinder book, believing that the ability to “WOO” (winning others over) is critical.  In order to win others for Jesus, he says campus pastors should be trustworthy, sincere, and believable. The ability to be a communicator, think strategically, and be a team player who represents the community he or she serves—these are all traits to look for in a great campus pastor.

At Meeting House where Natalie serves, they have lead pastors, not campus pastors, but that’s just a change in terms. Overall, Natalie agrees with Greg. She discusses some changes she’s seen in the job description and hiring habits at her church over the years: campus pastors teach several times a year at their own location—this didn’t used to be a requirement, but now the church seeks that teaching ability more than in the past. Natalie feels like a strong campus pastor should clearly communicate through writing as well as through verbal articulation of thoughts and ideas. She also finds that a campus pastor should be someone who looks for, equips, and empowers other leaders to support and encourage.  A campus pastor with a rich prayer life is a huge gift to the church as well!

While Ben also agrees with his colleagues, he also takes the perspective of what he would look for on a resume.  It might seem counterintuitive, but he suggests that a multisite or new portable church hire somebody without preaching experience if they already have video teaching in place. Then you won’t have to pull them back from a road they’ve already been down. Ben also points out the benefits to hiring someone with a pastoral heart but pastoral experience and how that might serve a multisite church better than a pastor with single-site pastoral experience. Single-site pastors are used to leading the organization rather than being number two and that can create baggage. Lastly, Ben would look for someone who may have run a franchise before since a multisite church shares the franchising model and perspective. He also mentions the need for schools of education to better train and equip people to serve multisite churches.

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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.