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Insider View of the XP Role at a Fast Growing Church with Steve Smith

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Welcome to the unSeminary podcast. I’m excited to have Steve Smith, Executive Pastor of High Point Church in Chicago, with us today.

As High Point Church grew and multiplied, it had to make some key shifts to the way it was structured. Listen in as Steve shares about some of the hurdles that came up as the church grew, as well as what the shifting to a multisite church has looked like.

  • Recognize hurdles. // As High Point Church has grown, one of the key lessons the staff has learned is that there are many different ways to do church and reach people in a community. Where is God leading your church? For High Point this looked like scaling up and preparing to go multisite, so one of the first things they needed to address was the staffing, staff structure and the leadership of the staff in order to scale. Looking back Steve notes that it’s easy to idealize what has happened and overlook the hurdles that have come. But the reality is that it took a lot of work to get repositioned and reorganized for future scaling. High Point started with multiplying groups, leaders and ministries, and then moved to multiplying campuses and churches.
  • Four team structures. // Larry Osborne talks about four different staff team structures: the track star, golfing buddies, basketball team, and football team. The ‘track star’ mentality wants to just get out there and run as fast as you can to make wins for the kingdom. This structure works when a church is young and doesn’t really have a staff. As the church grows, you hire your first few staff which often are a group of friends, your ‘golfing buddies’. As time goes on there’s a shift to a ‘basketball team’ mentality where the staff grows but the team can interchangeably play each other’s positions a bit. You may be watching from the bench, but you still know what each team member is doing. When a staff grows even larger, it shifts to a ‘football team’ structure where there are a lot of different groups on and off the field and you aren’t seeing everything that’s going on in the church. None of these team structures are better or worse than another, but rather these are a picture of the shift from a generalist position to specialist position in a certain area. Identify where your church’s staff structure is and what you are called to move to. Not every staff member will feel they are right for certain team structures.
  • Different multisite strategies. // As High Point scaled up staff structures to support multiplication, they were then faced with different strategies of going multisite. In one case this looked like starting from scratch, developing a core group and sending them out to launch a campus. But in other cases declining or stuck churches reached out to talk about merging. Whether you pursue an organic launch or a church revitalization, there are opportunities in both.
  • Alignment in mission. // Receiving a phone call from another church interested in merging can sound like a great opportunity, but Steve recommends caution in moving forward. First check whether you are aligned in motive and mission. Some churches may have just have lost their vision, or lost some leadership and don’t know what their next step is. There is opportunity to come together and relaunch with them. Other churches may not really understand or want the sort of changes that a merger will bring. On the backend, once you commit you will all have to do life and ministry together. Be sure that you’re unified in mission and vision. Bringing in a neutral third party can be helpful during merger conversations. Third parties can help determine if each church understands what the other is saying.

You can learn more about High Point Church at highpoint.church.

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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.