I recently sat down with 5 Sr. Pastors who are all leading Multisite Churches ranging from 5,000 to more than 15,000. Here’s some of what they had to say regarding church leadership. If you missed the first two parts of this series you can check them out here:
Part-1 “How do young leaders earn the right to be heard and succeed on your team?”
Part-2 “What are some indicators that momentum is moving the wrong direction and how do you turn the tide?”
Question #3 “What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in going multisite and what are some of the most significant things you’ve learned as a result?”
Tyler Johnson: I think one thing I’ve learned is that ministry really is local. One of the challenges in it, is the more decentralized you get the more difficult communication and clarity become. So the need to simplify and clarify your language becomes huge. Distance really hinders relationship. So intentionally creating environments where relationship really can be established is really important. It’s a lot easier when you’re at a distance from somebody to have a very negative and uniformed view of somebody than it is when you get in a room when somebody. As you decentralize yourself and things get pushed away and somebody says, “I don’t know that person.” It’s a lot easier to say, “That person’s an idiot, why would they do that?” So when you believe that ministry is local, it’s challenging to get people together to where there is enough relationship so you can build the trust necessary to have candor. This is really challenging and you have to work really hard to build that kind of culture.
Cal Jernigan: Two things I would say about Multisite. Number one, I think it’s harder than anyone ever wants to admit. It seems like everyone is talking about it being so good, it’s all growth, it’s just the greatest thing. I think it’s a lot harder than people are talking about. And I think a lot of sideways energy is going in, a lot of wasted money is going into it and I think we just don’t want to call it out and say it’s as hard as it is. And the truth is you have to have a gear that not everyone else has. And you’re going to succeed if you have the gear and you’re not going to succeed if you don’t. The second part I would say is what makes it so hard are things like authority structures, and who makes the call, and how do you retain leaders, and how do you let leaders lead? And how we’re structured is we have 5 campuses and we have a central band that runs across it all. And there are significant points of tension that need to be managed in regards to who gets to lead where and who gets to make a call. And this stuff is really hard, and a single site church never has to deal with this.
Don Wilson: I think a lot of multisite is still faddish. It’s not been proven that long, plus we’ve never seen a real successful multisite church where the Sr. Pastor has left and someone else has taken over. I don’t know a single one of those yet. For us, we’re getting ready to start our fifth campus this week. Lots of people are doing multisite a lot of different ways. Whatever way you do it, you have to do it with your DNA. What we’re finding is until you do four campuses you never really have to intentionally change your central team. When you get to four it forces you to do things differently.
Scott Ridout: I don’t know that Sun Valley’s really gone multisite. We’ve merged and have two campuses there and then we did a parachute drop down in Casa Grande so now we’re at three campuses. We haven’t hived off anything from our original campus yet, so that’s our next experiment. So we’re merging, we’re parachute dropping, and we’re hiving.