Managing a Multisite Church

Five months ago we embarked on our current multisite church strategy with campuses in Battle Ground and Hazel Dell via a merge situation with Maple Grove Church.  It has been an incredible journey of literally re-learning how to function, lead, and thrive in a new scenario.  After being a single campus for five years, we are very much enjoying the challenge of trying new ways of doing ministry.  That being said, it is no small task to be a church plant-merge-turnaround-multisite organization.  The skill set needed to manage this is astounding!  Without the staff and volunteer force we have behind us, we would be struggling.

The Leadership Network did research on multisite and came up with the following benefits, many of which encouraged us to stay the course and get this organization on steady ground:

– Multisite churches reach more people than single site churches.

– Multisite tends to spread healthy churches to more diverse communities.

– Multisite churches have more volunteers in service as a percentage than single site.

– Multisite churches baptize more people than single site.

– Multisite churches tend to activate more people into ministry than single site.

We have definitely found that the list above reflects the benefits of where we are at.  At first, we faced the challenge of finding enough volunteers to have two high-functioning churches.  We needed two complete worship teams, two Kid’s teams, two Host Teams, etc…it was spreading our leaders and volunteers thin on all fronts.  Now we are beefing up the volunteer base and finding joy in watching a fleet of people engaged in ministry on Sundays and throughout the week.

We are also redefining how and why we do church at our merged location.  Obviously we do and don’t do things for different reasons than they were previously done.  It’s not about being right or wrong, but it is about getting everyone on the same page.  Culture is defined by all the things an organization gets behind, as well as what they choose not to get behind.  If we want the North Creek culture in both campuses, we need the whole team focused on the same goal.  On a basketball team, there are many plays, but once the coach calls which play is to be used, all the members of the team must execute the same play in order to make the basket.  If one person on the team decides to go with a different play, the whole team loses…even if the other play would have accomplished making a basket as well.  In this case, we needed a lot of people to adapt to change extremely quickly, drop their “play” and go with what the new coach was asking.  And it was a lot to ask!  I feel like just now we are beginning to hear the phrase “our church” more regularly than “your church”.  People are beginning to take the ownership in a new vision one step at a time and are starting to work toward the same play.  I have no doubt that we will “make the basket” as a church in due time!

Our staff has also had to stretch in unfamiliar ways in order to manage multisite.  It is a very interesting conundrum to find yourself in charge of people you rarely see.  How do you lead leaders that must then lead the people?  (Sounds Biblical, doesn’t it?)  Ironically this model is right out of the pages of the Bible, but not modeled wholistically in the church world.  We are asking lots of questions and dealing with our own limits in order to impact this community.

There’s so much more to talk about as we are learning!  I am most thankful for a church that has stood with us through the learning curve.  I know that God has great plans for us…both individiually and as a church body!  Blessings!


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