We have established that misunderstanding is a common byproduct of multisite churches. We are all (hopefully) headed in the same direction, but lack of proximity to ministry leaders can lead to side trails along the way. The energy spent on getting everyone back on the same path could be better spent on moving church initiatives forward.
If your church has more than two physical sites, chances are good there is some type of central support. It may still be ministry leaders at the original campus, but they are functioning in a support role none the less. It’s easy for the support staff to feel like the campus leaders are not giving them everything they need to help the campus be successful. Without the right systems, the worry is that campuses could “go rogue” at any moment.
Having been on both sides of this equation, I have experienced most of the frustrations campuses and central staff feel. For the support system to be at it’s best, here are 5 things central staff need from campus leaders.
1. Open communication
This one makes both lists because communication is definitely a two-way street. Central support staff don’t know what they don’t know. Campus leaders can feel like central doesn’t understand their issues, but it’s impossible without open and honest communication flowing back from the campus. This requires speaking up in meetings. Sending that extra email. Setting up that coffee meeting on Monday. Never assume that everyone should just know what is going on at the campus level.
2. Updated information
The quickest way for a central support leader to get a pulse on campus health is by looking at current data. Most churches have a common database where different ministry metrics are tracked. You can see attendance, first time visitors, volunteers, offering numbers, baptisms, small group participation, etc. While numbers are not the whole picture of campus health, they are indicators. If these numbers are not regularly updated, central leaders will not have an accurate gauge on where resources and effort needs to be placed. We want to fuel where the fire is and resuscitate, or plan an end of life strategy, where it’s not.
3. Benefit of the doubt
The perspective is sometimes different when you are charged with thinking about the whole organization and not just a part. Central leaders have to think about how every decision is going to effect every campus and ministry. The best decision is not always the most popular one for a specific campus, but the right one for the organization. After all voices have been heard on an issue, campuses need to believe that the right call will be made for everyone.
4. Quick follow-up
One of the biggest fears central leaders have is that campuses will not follow-up after a final call has been made. The support staff will not always have the direct authority to ensure it happens, so they have to rely on a campus pastor or ministry leader to see it through. It’s frustrating to have to continue to step into a situation that should have already been resolved. Campus leaders will earn a ton of trust (and leash) if they follow-up quickly.
This may sound counter intuitive to the fear of campuses going rogue, but we want to see campus leaders bringing ideas to the table. They are in the best seat to know what will be the most effective in their communities. The most effective ideas for the whole organization usually bubble up from experiences on the front lines. As long as a ministry initiative is in line with the DNA and overall strategy of the church, it should be given an opportunity to be heard.