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Setting the Standard for Multi-Site Success

Setting the Standard for Multi-Site Success

Multi-site churches can ensure consistency in staffing, technology, and production quality by focusing on these key five areas.

Having effective team and equipment management principles will help create a successful foundation that can ultimately lead to church growth.

As the usage of technology in churches becomes more common and cost-effective, many churches are looking to technology to support growth in the launching of additional campuses. As a result, the idea of becoming a multi-site church has started to become a standard part of the growth plan for many churches. Replicating a high-quality environment (and possessing the resources to create it), however, is a challenge that will ultimately determine the success of any additional campus.

When it comes to production technology and teams, there are five main areas of focus for any church that is considering the idea of launching a new location.

Obviously, if there's a new campus, somebody has to help run the services and oversee the team. So, a production team leader is the most critical component to look for right out of the gate. The most important quality that the leader should possess is the ability to earn and maintain the trust of the campus pastor. The production leader will completely control the success (or failure) of the service due to its reliance upon technology. It is critical, therefore, that he or she have a strong rapport with the campus pastor. The abilities to work well with others, communicate about challenges, and handle delegated authority are absolute must-haves.

The sermon has to get from Point A to Point B somehow, as must the song lyric files, jumpbacks, series artwork, announcement slides, testimony videos, and other miscellaneous graphics used during a service. Having a system like Dropbox, Box, or an FTP site are viable ways to transmit this support content quickly without having to rely on jump drives or email. But for the service itself, that can be the most critical technology decision for any new campus. Unless the campus pastor will preach locally each week or unless the site is close enough to the main location for the senior pastor to drive over and preach live due to staggered service times there has to be a way to deliver the service content for playback. Fiber, satellite, and Internet are all tried-and-true methods of live delivery, and file- or drive-based media is a very reliable means of playback via delay. Regardless of the method, thought must be put into the future growth of the church. Is the method of content delivery scalable and sustainable for potential campuses to also adapt?

It is likely that there will be limited staff available to support a new campus location. Having the same (or very similar) gear at a new location as is at the main location is a critical way to make support and maintenance easier. Churches can minimize the amount of consumable supplies (hazer fluid, gel, batteries, projector lamps, etc.) kept on-hand when those components are interchangeable between campuses. Preventative maintenance, programming, and formatting are also easier for staff and volunteer teams when equipment is consistent between locations. Last minute, over-the-phone troubleshooting is also much more effective when someone at one location can use their familiarity with the gear to help address problems at another site.

If the equipment is similar between campus locations, it's natural to then standardize training practices as much as possible. If the campuses are close enough together, and if the volunteer teams are comfortable on specific gear, that opens the door for people to rotate between locations as needed to help meet staffing needs. Also, if there's a situation where one campus is permanent and one is portable, standardized training opens the door for the permanent location to be used as a mid-week training location. Standardized equipment makes it easier to implement consistent policies when it comes to quality control, and it also greatly simplifies the training process.

When launching a new campus, it's common for a church to appoint a new production leader for that campus. In reality, it's more effective for the production at the new campus to benefit from the oversight and involvement of the main campus staff and teams. This will lend to a consistent quality.

In order for a production leader to have the flexibility to focus on a new campus launch, he or she must first have someone who can step into his or her shoes at the main location during his/her absence. It may not be about finding someone new at the new location, but it is important to maintain team depth, with a succession of leadership.

When launching a new campus, it's critical that churches take the steps with staffing and budget to ensure that a high-quality experience is being created. After all, attendees likely wouldn't choose to attend a sub-par worship service. Having effective team and equipment management principles will help create a successful foundation that can ultimately lead to church growth and greater effectiveness in reaching the community.

JUSTIN FIRESHEETS is the production manager at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala. He is responsible for the management of the video systems, volunteer teams, equipment, and production staff at 12 campuses of Highlands.

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