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multisite, church, leadership

Multisite Planning: Learn From Others; Don't Copy

Make sure that one has the exact or very similar technology at any campus site that reflects the technology of the main or 'broadcast' campus.

The landscape of how we do ministry has been changing dramatically over the last 10 years.

The concept of a multisite ministry model has taken hold, not as a trend, but the new norm. The idea of going to a centrally located building where attendees would need to commute great distances just to attend a church that spoke to their spiritual needs, has been replaced with smaller, local campuses that allow people to connect to that same ministry, but in their local community.

Leverage one’s relationships with ministries one has been inspired by.

Regional campuses allow us to invite friends and neighbors to attend with great ease due to location. It has allowed us to connect with small groups, kids programming, and spiritual development in new ways, because we have "our church" right in our own backyard. It has also opened new opportunities for the church itself to increase its effectiveness, by connecting with people where they are not only spiritually, but also regionally.

However, with all the amazing positives that come with a multisite model, there are some natural challenges that arise. Whether your ministry is currently using a multisite model or dreaming of one, there are some things you will want to consider as you move forward.

The first is Ministry DNA. Essentially, this is what makes up the mission, vision, values and purpose of the ministry and how can we translate that across multiple campuses?

An example of this is the experience.

If the vision of leadership is to have a high impact and engaging worship experience utilizing technology to support that vision, that is a core value. If this is a core value, it is essential that it be done with excellence at every campus.

It should be a priority to have a very similar experience at every campus. That means no "shortchanging" from one campus to another. Oftentimes, this means making sure the right budgets are in place to ensure we can actually create the right experience.

Once we have identified and recognized the DNA, we need to concern ourselves with figuring out what technology is going to be right for supporting the campus.

One of the things our team is always interested in doing is developing what we call a "consistency model." This is making sure that we have exact or very similar technology at any campus site that reflects the technology of the main or "broadcast" campus. This will ensure we can cross-train volunteers on the effective operation, maintenance and management of the equipment. This also makes remote troubleshooting easy for lead staff.

An example of this would be a lighting console.

When choosing a console for the main facility, we always recommend making that choice based on what other versions the manufacturer has available to us for smaller spaces that we may need to outfit for the new campus. This includes the main worship space, youth spaces, etc. Having this level of consistency will positively impact all aspects of the technical arts teams.

After sorting out what is the best equipment needed for the campus, we then need to focus on staff and volunteer development and training.

It is very important in order to operate the equipment to its maximum potential that we have a defined process and procedure for recruiting, training, and successfully sending volunteers and even staff into a live worship experience, so they can function with excellence.

We have to make sure these individuals are confident with the technology we are putting in front of them. This requires thinking through all aspects of the onboarding process to ensure success.

I have learned several things over time that I wish I would have known when I did my first campus.

The first is to design the systems based on where the ministry is going, not necessarily where it is today. While it is impossible to future proof a system, it is essential to not only consider where we are today, but more importantly, where we are going.

As part of that, don't design the system based on the skill level of the volunteers today, but rather based on where you want them to be.

Again, follow the DNA and vision of the ministry.

That is the guide.

The team will always rise to meet the needs of the ministry.

Another important lesson I learned is to leverage my relationships with ministries we were inspired by. Reach out to the tech and leadership teams at those ministries. Learn from what they have done. Ask what worked and what didn't. These are great opportunities to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

Just remember, don't copy what they do, but rather use it as a resource to inspire you and your ministry, but again, always pass it through your own DNA. With this, you can be very successful and strategically positioned to have a great multisite strategy.



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