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multisite, church, Sunday

Multisite Planning: Don't Standardize Blindly At Every Turn

While it does make sense to standardize when dealing with equipment and systems, if there's one thing you shouldn't standardize on, it's the people who make up your teams.

If there's one thing I've learned over the past few years as our church has added additional campuses and become multisite, it's that we should standardize on as much of our methodology as much as possible across our campuses.

If there's one thing that has proven difficult time and time again, it's been standardizing on said methodology across those campuses.

It's easy to understand why standardizing on equipment across multiple campuses would be a logical choice for most churches.

As the methods of going multisite have evolved, there's less and less of a chance that a "one-size-fits-all" approach to media and production will work at your multisite campuses. So when it comes to standardizing and not standardizing here are three areas to focus on.

A quick disclaimer: this is not easy, and as the author of this article, I admit I have a long way to go until I have this mastered!

Equipment

It's easy to understand why standardizing on equipment across multiple campuses would be a logical choice for most churches.

Installing the same family of audio, video, and lighting consoles used across multiple locations means that there's less to learn for the staff that has to maintain and support that equipment that is at a church's different locations. And the less time you're spending learning various pieces of equipment, means that you'll have more time to train and support the volunteers who use those systems.

Our church has part-time campus technical directors who are responsible for leading and training their campus's media team volunteers. When one campus tech director has questions about his console, he can call another one of us, and chances are we'll have the answer, since we're using a console from the same family at our own campus. And if a console goes down at one campus, we can easily swap equipment with another campus while a repair is being made. In turn, that won't cause confusion for the staff and volunteers who will need to use the swapped equipment in the interim.

Since many manufacturers of audio, video, and lighting consoles offer multiple sizes of consoles that all run on similar hardware and the same software, you can choose equipment that fits each campus's size and budget. This means that a small campus of 200 weekend attendees, for example, can use the same family of console as your main campus, which may have 1,000 attendees on weekends.

The difference is that while one may have a smaller control surface or fewer inputs or outputs, since they're from the same family, they both operate essentially in the same way. This is especially beneficial if a volunteer moves from one campus to another to fill in at the last minute or help out at peak times at another campus, such as for a conference or a concert.

But of course, it's not always so easy to do this. As the trend continues of more churches merging, you may not be building a new campus from the ground up. Our church "inherited" perfectly functional equipment when another church became one of our campuses as we merged with them.

It didn't make sense for us to spend money on all new equipment at that moment that fit what we had standardized on at our other campuses.

As the nonstandard equipment at that new campus eventually fails, though, we'll move to replace it according to our plan for standardization.

Systems

The intangible systems you use to get work done each week and prepare for the weekend are just as important as the physical systems that you use on Sundays, and these may be the easiest and cheapest to standardize.

Having your volunteers across multiple campuses all entered into your online scheduling and database systems means that you'll have easy access to contact information and scheduling availability when you need it. This is especially useful if the person in charge of scheduling for one of your other campuses is unavailable and you need to step in.

As time-consuming as it may be, even getting to know volunteers from other campuses means that when you do need to call on them, they already know who you are and may be more willing to step in to fill a need.

Volunteer recruitment and training is another area that can benefit from the same systems being used across your campuses. If you've found a process to recruit and train new volunteers that has been successful at your campus, be sure you share those best practices with your counterparts at other campuses.

It's easy to get so caught up in our own work that we forget there are others who may be doing our same job within our same organization that could benefit from what we've learned. Since oftentimes those people are volunteers who are working full-time jobs outside the church and are already stretched thin, give them the benefit of learning from your mistakes and successes.

People

If there's one thing you shouldn't standardize on, it's the people who make up your teams.

Each person is an individual with a unique skillset and personality, and when you put multiple people together on a team, you'll have a team with a dynamic that cannot be replicated, even at another campus.

So while you may recruit, train and schedule on standardized equipment and with standardized processes, don't forget that it's a diverse group of people who are the lifeblood of your team.

Your team may be energized in their service by knowing that they'll receive recognition from time to time, or they may be intimidated by recognition and prefer to stay in the background. Some may be naturally inclined to join and be a part of a Bible study, and some may need a gentle nudge toward community.

A team at one campus may be made up of many people who are experts or professionals in the same fields that they serve in, and some may be beginners who need extra hands-on training and attention. Some may be close-nit and engage in social activities outside of the church, and some may need those social events planned for them.

And while the finished product of a Sunday service or an event is often the common goal that we all come together to achieve, don't forget that the church cannot exist without the people who make it unique. Figuring out what makes each campus' volunteer team "tick" can take your teams from being a group of workers who just show up on a Sunday to a group that has formed relationships with each other and can't wait to serve together again.

So, find a way to standardize what you can as you evaluate how you can be more efficient and effective in leading media and production teams at your campuses.

Standardization will make your job and your life easier in so many ways, but don't be bound to it.

Just as each church is different from the next, so is each of your campuses. So when it makes sense to standardize, go for it! And when it doesn't, then don't. I encourage you to take a step this summer toward determining what mix works best for you.

TAGS: Volunteers
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