This usually happens somewhere around the third location of a multisite church: they get stuck.
But, it’s not necessarily shown from an attendance perspective. They are growing churches that are reaching new people for Christ, that usually have a thriving kid’s ministry, and have people taking next steps in their faith. They are stuck in a different way. It often sounds like this:
1. “We’re spending way too much on staffing.”
And they are. Typically, these churches are overstaffed and are underutilizing their body – the volunteers – to do the work of the church.
2. “We don’t know who is responsible for what anymore.”
And they don’t. What used to be so clear is now fuzzy and undefined. Does the Campus Pastor get to make that call? Does the Kids Pastor get to decide on that? What is each person ultimately responsible for?
3. “It’s the tyranny of the urgent.”
And it is. Many of these staff teams feel overworked and can’t get beyond the whirlwind of week-to-week ministry.
4. “The leaders are making decisions that affect my ministry, and they’re not even including me in the discussions.”
Just as the decision-making process gets fuzzy, so do the communication channels within these churches. People who used to be “in the know” now feel surprised by decisions and left out of key conversations. They feel like they no longer have a voice at the table.
Do any of these issues sound familiar? If so, your staffing structure may be ready for some change.
As we work with multisite churches across the country, there are 3 key shifts that are helping churches get unstuck in multisite staffing:
Redefining the Senior Leadership Team
In a multisite structure, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) will typically include the Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, Family Ministry Pastor, Connections Pastor, and a Worship & Creative Arts Pastor (weekend leadership). A Campus Pastor, or leader over all of the campus pastors, would also be included. This team is the high-level decision making team for the church and is responsible to define, lead, and implement the strategies that will move the church forward. Their primary responsibility on this team is the overall health of the church and determining the strategies that will help the church live out its mission and accomplish its vision.
Putting Leaders in Leadership Positions
That sounds obvious, but we often see that key leadership positions are occupied by legacy staff members whose primary gifting is “doing” the ministry. For example, your current Children’s Pastor has been successful because he is great at being with kids. In fact, he’s a kid magnet. As the ministry grows, however, you need a leader magnet that draws key staff and high-level volunteers into the ministry to teach, lead, schedule and implement the programming.
When you have the right leaders in place, they will build their respective ministry areas with the right staff, with the right span of care, and with many more volunteers than staffers. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Leaders are body-builders.
Defining Decision Rights
If you’ve been in a multisite church for any amount of time, you know that clarity is king. It is the leader’s responsibility to bring clarity to who is responsible for what, what the “win” is for every role, and who gets to make what decisions. Without these definitions in place, churches end up talking about a lot, but not doing a lot. When team members are clear about who owns decision rights, everyone knows their role. Either 1) they have no role in it so they don’t have to expend any energy on it, 2) they have a voice in the decision where they can speak honestly and openly about their opinion (and then they’re done), or 3) they have a deciding vote. But defining decision rights can be confusing. Here are some practical ways to start the process.
Multisite churches that get these three areas figured out start to see a decrease in staffing/hiring dollars, an increase in volunteer engagement, and a reduction in the time needed to make key decisions.
If you’re a multisite church feeling stuck in your staffing and structure areas, consider joining a Multisite Leadership Coaching Network. These experiences will help you learn how to navigate running a healthy multisite church by discovering the shifts that need to happen within your church. You will be working and learning alongside other teams who are on mission to reach more people who are far from God.
Or, engage in a full, on-site Staffing and Structure review. We love helping churches staff their team to best fit both the ministry and the individuals involved.
We’d love to help you get unstuck.