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Leadership and the Campus Pastor


By Stephen Smith:

In any and all organizations, the leadership quotient can never be understated. Mountains of books exist on the subject. Whole industries are built around sharpening leaders. If you’ve been in leadership for any period of time, you know how important that sharpening time is.

Let’s talk then about the leadership role of the Campus Pastor. Multisite church multiplication requires an answer to three overriding questions:

  • Where to plant? Location
  • Who to plant? Leadership
  • How to plant? Logistics

Answering these questions is a continual process. Usually, the questions are asked in this order. Once the church decides to multiply and plant a campus, everyone is eager to go right to the locality piece. Locality and context is a key issue in church planting, but I would advocate for a different scheme:

  • Train up the leader(s). (Leadership)
  • Decide how to plant that best expresses the heart of your church. (Logistics)
  • Plant carefully. (Location)

Can they be asked and answered simultaneously? Yes, but just go with me here for a moment.

Your Leadership Quotient

Leadership quotient at a multisite campus will directly affect the “success” of the planting effort. Without leaders who understand core DNA of the church and how it relates to campus realities, the church will find itself in an even more complex situation than the multisite church model already is to begin with. Solving leadership issues on the front side is of premiere importance. One right decision here can lead to 10,000 right decisions in the future.

Here are a few ways to make sure the leadership piece is anchored.


The best place to find Campus Pastors is on your existing team. The benefit is that they are known by the congregation, in existing partnership with the staff, and believe and have been living in the existing church culture. As you look out across your staff team, allow the Lord to lead you to the right person. You would be surprised at how the next planter might be waiting for that nudge to next level leadership. When God calls, He equips!

If you are unable to “hire from within,” it is critical that the next campus pastor have a minimum of 6 months to a year on the team before he is sent out. Inculturation takes time. Trust takes time. Friendships take time to grow. Allow for this.


Leaders need lessons, but they also need “at bats.” Reading key leadership books and articles that resonate with your church culture is step one. NewChurches.com is committed to the training process and is packed full of smart people talking about higher-level things. It is quickly becoming a hub for all things church planting.

Conducting deep, open-ended conversations about expectations, spiritual gifts, work strategies, and people skills is step two. The Campus Pastor should actively “interview” people across the team to better acquaint themselves with the perspectives of others. This will pay huge dividends down the road.

Step three is getting the Campus Pastor into the game as much as possible. Let them see and feel the weight during some critical decisions. Require them to teach, speak, and preach on multiple occasions in the planting process. The more comfortable they are with running your offense, the more time they have been observed, the more time they have been empowered to make the important calls while still “at home” or with the “sending church,” the more comfortable they will be in the field.


Not only does deep conversation happen during the training process, it is also a key factor in continued relationship. Time and space can play tricks on the planter’s heart and mind. The physical distance away from the sending church can sometimes play with the emotions. Here are some helpful things to keep in mind.

No matter how many sites you have, get a text group together as soon as you get finish reading this blog and begin the process of talking about random things. We get so caught in the doing of ministry that we neglect the very small things of life that can bring people together. Slack or GroupMe are two helpful tools to get this process started. Cat videos and random memes required! (Okay, maybe not the cat part.)

Breathe the same air. Nothing can replace face-to-face time with your group of Campus Pastors. Do this either weekly or monthly. We find that a monthly lunch with just the campus pastors in the room is a key component to foster healthy talk.

Finally, go deeper than the meeting agenda. Take time to go off topic and talk through campus issues. When someone from one campus context realizes that somebody else around the table is dealing with the same things they are, there is a certain unity that it built.

Team, Training, and Talk are just three ways to create a real sense of team, common purpose, and community among your campus pastor team. Whether you have 2 sites or 15, these same principals can apply.

*NOTE: At Houston’s First, our Campus Pastors were hired both from within and without. Their meeting schedule looks something like this:

Weekly: Campus Pastors meet with their campus staff. We also have a standing Skype to coordinate for the upcoming Sunday.

Frequently: We can frequently be found blowing up our GroupMe channel.

Monthly: Each Campus Pastor meets monthly with Pastor Gregg for a one-on-one lunch. Also, Campus Pastor Lunch happens each month in a private room. Finally, each of the Campus Pastors sit on a 16 person “Planning Team” that serves as a central meeting for all Gather, Grow, Give, and Operations functions.

So, it can be said that each Campus Pastor has some variety of a standing weekly meeting either with counterparts, central, or Pastor Gregg. This rhythm seems to be working for us now. As with everything in multisite world, it is always subject to change.


Source: Leadership and the Campus Pastor