by Rich Birch: Over the last 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of time helping multi-site churches wrestle through how to launch and lead thriving campuses.
One of the things that often comes up is the “dotted line and solid line” conversation. This is the conversation that attempts to outline how the various aspects of church leadership relate to each other. In particular, this refers to the lines on an organizational chart that define responsibilities and authority.
Solid lines show that the people “down” the org chart have a direct reporting relationship to the people connected to them.
Dotted lines show that the people “down” the org chart have “lesser” reporting relationships than those with the solid lines.
Most church structures resemble a pyramid where everyone in the church reports upwards through someone else to one authority figure or a Board at the top. However, multi-site churches are organized around a matrix comprised of central leaders responsible for functions across all locations and a group of campus leaders responsible for their specific location.
There is a tremendous amount of conversation around where the dotted and solid lines fall for multi-site churches. Some church structures have the solid lines move towards a central leadership team and the dotted lines then flowing outwards to campus leaders. To make this conversation even more interesting, you can also find churches that are structured the exact opposite way. Every multi-site church needs to deliver a common experience across their multiple locations. Dotted and solid lines are a way to structure leadership to achieve that common experience. This type of structure is called a matrix model.