Planning church services are never easy. You would think they are, since you have worship, welcome, news (probably too much news), a message, and a close.
Should be simple, right?
You have to know what works for the people you are trying to reach.
But it is not.
Then, when you add in the concept of multisite, the complexity just intensifies!
First, let's look at planning in general.
When you are planning your services, there are several factors to consider. First, who is your audience? As a church, who is the community for which you are trying to reach? Do you know? This is going to change and impact the service you build and program. You have to know what works for the people you are trying to reach. Knowing your audience matters!
Once we know our audience, we have to make sure we are connecting the parts together. Transitions are the big little details that can make or break your service. Spend a significant amount of time talking through how you are going to move from one part of the service to the next, how you are going to get there, what the transition should look and feel like, and if there is a way to make it smooth and easy. We never want our transitions to be considered distractions.
Finally, you need to make sure you are communicating with everyone involved to ensure everyone knows what is happening, how it is happening, and what your desired outcome is for that moment.
OK, now that the basics are covered, let's add multisite planning to the mix. The first question we need to ask is how centralized versus autonomous we want our service to be. Some churches do the exact same service at every one of their locations, while others may just have the same message or the same worship.
You have to identify your model in order to make sure you are programming accordingly. Regardless of your choice, you will have church news that is unique to that location. That proves to be another great opportunity to lean in to communication and make sure that you are clearly confirming what is being said, how it is being supported on screens, and that next steps and actions are clear and prepared. It matters.
From my experience, here are a few little tricks that can help you navigate multisite programming.
First, early in the week, on Monday or Tuesday, have a programming meeting. Make sure your countdown is right, your graphics are correct, and that your information has been entered into Planning Center. Then, work out your transitions. Figure out your talking points and your wins for each moment. Write it down and make sure it is understood. Then, make sure all your news is in and clear for those who will communicate it from stage.
Once you have tightened up all these details, send an email to everyone who is involved in the weekend's preparations. This includes guest services, stage communicators, production and worship teams, location pastors, and of course every volunteer, etc. In this email copy the link to Planning Center and communicate to them what is happening this weekend in full detail.
Then on Thursday or Friday, whichever is your last day of the week, and check all your media. Check your lyrics, message notes, videos, etc. Upload content to a file hosting service like Dropbox for each campus. Run through your transitions as much as possible.
After this check has happened, email that exact same list of people again and give them any updates. You have now touched based with everyone, twice, before the weekend. You are going to be blown away how much clearer things have now become for your team.
Additionally, you just removed a lot of awkwardness from your environment and created a better experience for every guest and attendee at all of each of your multisite locations.
Remember, it's never just another Sunday.