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All About Multisite // Robust Leadership Development Practices & Keeping Teams Aligned


by Rich Birch: 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 at Liquid Church in NJ, 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 fifth episode.

Opening Question: Who are some other multisite churches that you are learning from?

Greg Curtis – There isn’t one or two specific ones I have personally invested in, but I would say in general Church of the Highlands and Central Christian in Mesa, Arizona.
Natalie Frisk – To be honest with you and without even building into their egos at all, I have been learning a lot from Liquid Church and Eastside, both Greg and Ben. But not just those guys, different people on their teams. Aside from those two, I would also say Crossroads Church in Ohio has been an incredible church to tune into.
Ben Stapley – I know one that I’ve given a lot of shout outs to in the past is LCBC Church in Pennsylvania. They’ve been super helpful with their time and have systemized things really well. In terms of following churches from afar, on my radar right now would be Christ Church of the Valley. They do a great job of sharing their resources.

Q1: What are some effective systems and practices churches are using for developing leaders in multisite churches?

Raising up leaders is critically important for both staff and volunteers. 87% of all campus pastors are found from within the existing church and 2/3 of volunteers in all locations are new to volunteering.

Within Eastside Church, when a new campus is started they invite people to come to interest meetings where they can meet the campus pastor and key leaders that have already been recruited for a few major areas. There is a short presentation to let everyone know where the church is in the launch process, and then the leaders are introduced by area. People are invited to sit at the various tables with area leaders based on where they are interested in serving. This process is the beginning of the pipeline, whether they are new to volunteering or experienced, and can lead to key leadership positions. Eastside has learned a lot from watching other organizations and works to adapt and implement what works for them. When they went to Auxano, they designed a three-year process for implementation that would go through the entire staff and department to develop leaders. They use a three-wing environment to develop leaders: Prep Modules, which are comprised of five competencies that help move someone from a team member up to the highest levels of leadership; Inspirational Events to encourage and offer new events for the team members; and Ongoing Equipping Huddles to invite staff to events based on an issue of development to connect with others.

One thing that Natalie recommends is to identify areas of gifting in people when they are young. What does it look like for kids or youth who are super friendly to be at the front door welcoming people into the church? If they’re nervous about the front door, what about positioning them at the kids’ welcoming area? At The Meeting House, the Leadership In Training program allows kids to see what it looks like to work in these positions within the church. The Student Leadership Team then allows students who are really engaged and want to be developed to go the next level in a variety of ministries and areas in the church.

It can be hard to figure out how to create an effective plan for developing a church leader. Natalie suggests planning a clear trajectory. Using the classroom as an example, one idea for a trajectory would be: Classroom Helper to Leader to Coach to Coordinator to Full-time Staff. Have clearly laid out roles and move people along that path to develop them as a leader.

In addition to volunteers, today’s interns could be tomorrow’s leaders, so Ben advises to create an internship program if you don’t already have one. The more interns you have, the less work it is for you. They will be able to collaborate and ask each other for help rather than come to you every time they have a question. The program also allows a “try before you buy” approach for both you and the interns.

Freelancers provide another pipeline. Brian Major at Christ Church strongly advocates for freelancers and he has about a 50/50 split between a full-time staff and freelancers. Freelance keeps your overhead low and gives you more options during peak seasons, like Christmas and Easter.

Q2: Keeping leadership teams “rowing in the same direction” is an important part of multisite church. What are some ways that you are ensuring your teams are focused on working together? Both formally (systems, etc.) and relationally?

Make sure that your staff member’s SMART goals are aligned with the organization goals. Identify some organizational goals for the upcoming year and pass them out to the staff members so that they can identify how their job will support that goal. Identify department goals to help the team work together within their group. Another system would be a Sunday morning huddle before the service or a weekly staff meeting to identify where everyone is at that moment. If some members aren’t able to be there in person, consider setting up virtual options for the meeting so that everyone can join in no matter where they are.

Software can be a great help in strengthening relationships and keeping track of goals. You can use calendar reminders to encourage someone that day. Do that in context to the church’s mission or organizational goal. The software PeopleGoal works great in keeping track of churchwide goals, team goals, and personal goals. It also allows you to give a shout out to someone and encourage them with a goal. Wrike is a project tracking software that allows teams churchwide to keep track of what they are doing and connect, as well as connect with different teams within the church.

Never eat alone! Don’t eat your lunch alone at your desk; join in the lunchroom with the other staff members or invite others out to eat with you. Take advantage of a relaxing meal to get to know the other staff members better.

At Eastside, every staff member uses a 6×6 ministry planning cycle in that they pick 6 leadership goals to complete within 6 months. New staff members are assimilated into the group through a fun process that gives them the real insight behind the scenes at the very beginning. This allows them to feel that they are a part of the team right at the start. Build dotted line relationships for mentoring and communication to allow for building leadership in staff.

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