Okay, my last post was getting too long and I hadn’t even gotten to my honest evaluation. So, I decided to add a separate post of my evaluation. I’ve been intimately involved in a multi-site church for about 18 months on various levels of leadership. In addition, our style of multi-site leadership has changed over the past 18 months. So, this evaluation is simply my honest opinion based on my experiences.

As a children’s pastor for a lot of years, I kind always felt a little isolated. In the early years when I was doing it part time or full time by myself, it was difficult to find time to network with others… or sometimes even find people to network with. I don’t know if it was just me, but a lot of my network attempts were very awkward. Again, maybe this was just me, but I sometimes felt I was being evaluated or coached by others from larger ministries and those from smaller ministries tended to be on a defensive. I just found it hard to just relax and just enjoy being with others who served kids like me (it may have just been my area too, since I’ve been to conferences and have had no problems with this). However, regardless of the awkward unions, many times different churches approach ministry from different philosophies that it is hard to do anything other than share ideas and offer encouragement.

When I first became a part of a Multi-Site Church, I began to see the wealth that came from being multi-site. For the first time, I didn’t have to be alone in ministry. With Multi-Site, I had the opportunity to surround myself with other like minded people, who share a common reference point and philosophy and would actually share the load of work so that ministry would become easier for all involved. What a great idea… a network of children’s ministries that would share resources to get a job done quicker and better. What a really cool concept.

So here are the pros of Multi-Site: Â

  • Fellowship and support – Rather than have one team of people in different roles (Nursery Coordinator, Preschool Coordinator, etc…), you could now have a larger team where several elementary coordinators could meet, pray for each other, share notes. You have your campus CM team where everyone has different roles and you cross network team where you have co-workers doing the same job as you.
  • Resource Sharing – There is no doubt that large churches have access to more resources than some of the small churches. Multi-Site is a beautiful thing since many smaller campuses can work together to purchase our share resources. Maybe there is some equipment that one campus just couldn’t afford, but each could go in together and share. This summer our church is attending a camp where the minimum number of participants is 200. We’ll only be able to make that minimum for 3-5th graders because we’re going as 3 campuses, 1 church. So much of our print media is beautiful, full-color because we find what forms, brochures and ads can be generic enough that we can order for 3 campuses instead of just 1. In the case where the media has to be specific, it still saves us time as the piece doesn’t have to be reinvented, but a few minor changes is all that is needed.
  • Synergy and Sharing Tasks – Even when I had a staff of 2 at another church, I wouldn’t normally pull in my nursery director and preschool director for message ideas for my 3rd-5th graders. However, last fall we sat down and planned out the following year of messages for elementary kids church. There were five of us that came to the table with ideas already in mind and we just had a blast bouncing ideas off of one another. Secondly, we will often divide tasks between campuses. In preparing for a major volunteer training event, the 10 of us on children’s staff across 3 campuses all took tasks and did the job in record time. What a powerful resource.

Here are the cons of Multi-Site

I guess I’m going to preface this. I think the pros far outweigh the cons. However, the cons may be determined by the leadership structure of the multi-site organization.

  • Squashed Autonomy – When I was initially in the central role for the children’s ministry, I led out of many years of experience. The two Children’s Pastors under me had very little experience and ultimately the buck stopped with me. For the past several years I had developed quite the program that worked year after year. Themes changed and a few events here and there… but I could work the system that was successful. Multi-Site allowed me to in essence push “my” programs out to other campuses and have them carried out by the staff there. I was always open to ideas and new/creative twists, but for the most part I wasn’t that open to brand new events or programs at this time. One of my CP’s was fine with this… they just wanted to be given the task. The other CP really struggled with this. They had a lot of creative ideas and wanted to spread their wings.
  • Committee Syndrome – At this time we have a completely autonomous structure. All the Children’s Pastors are peers and report to individual campus pastors. We’ve been asked to get on the same page with teaching series (like teach the same topics each week, although it my come out different on each campus). We also will combine for camp and work together on things that affect the ministry as a whole. They haven’t been like this much, but these meetings for shared events are in essence committees. Everyone may try to convince everyone else of an idea and vice versa. Utlimately it’s a team approach and the end result is probably going to be better than each team working on its own, but the process has the potential to be painful.
  • Divided: The Price of Autonomy – In my current set-up, each ministry is autonomous. We share the same name, logo and look… and usually the big idea, but everything else is different. There may be some things that we can use to work together, but more than likely each campus will do things they way they best see fit. In a lot of ways this is much better than just being three separate churches, but doesn’t seem as good as three campuses that could work together on everything, share ideas and tasks. However, that is the price of autonomy. If we’re all teaching stewardship, one children’s pastor can teach from his favorite Bible story on stewardship and I can teach from mine. One children’s pastor can do a sports camp outreach and another can do a field trip to a local park. Autonomy can be a good thing.

So, my final word. I love multi-site ministry. It is the way to go. I’ve also found that there are a lot of ways to do it. I certainly have my opinions, but I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences i have had or are having now for anything. God is leading our Church into new territories, we are trying new things and continually open to change. Here is my opinion and advice. No matter what your method of Multi-Site is, find as many ways to collaborate as possible… it just makes life easier. I feel that the less time I am behind a computer, the more time I can be hitting the schools and having lunch with kids. Maybe I need to compromise my desires a little to make an idea work for everyone if that’s what it takes to work together and make more time for relational ministry.

All in all, Multi-Site Rocks!