Community is messy. Community in a multi-site church is messier. I have spent the last 12 years on staff at churches with multiple campuses (Seacoast and Cross Point), and the overall lesson that I have learned is that every issue churches normally have, you can multiply it exponentially when you go multisite. Everything is more complicated – including small groups. I want to take a look at what it takes to stay on the same page across multiple campuses.
The first key to everything multisite is communication. When you have staff and volunteers that are spread out geographically, you have to overcompensate with your communication. Even the best laid plans and systems can get off track by a forgotten key detail. Here are a few ideas for improving your communications:
- Have one person that is in charge of communication across campuses. Important details get missed when there are too many people trying to be heard. Having one person controlling it helps cut through all the noise.
- Regular meetings with staff and volunteers from every campus. We meet at least twice a month with all of our groups staff. For us, that is a mix of paid staff and volunteers. We try to schedule them out far enough for volunteers to be able to attend.
- Provide agendas and action points for those meetings. Meetings are a waste of time if there is not a plan going in and going out.
- Start planning WAY ahead. There are a few big events that you will have every year. Whatever time you think you need to normally plan them, double that. That will give you the time to work out all of the intricacies that every campus brings.
- Communicate one message. It gets really complicated for people when each campus has it’s own rules and definitions for ministries. As much as possible, keep the communication consistent across all of the campuses – i.e. groups events on the same day, same types of groups on every campus, same wording for announcements…
- Don’t overload staff and leaders with emails. If you do, your emails will eventually get the Groupon filter applied. Cut out the fluff and stick to the one message.
Finding the balance in communication level is difficult, but worth it. It will eventually lead to healthier and more productive groups and leaders.