I’m a church hopper. I’ll admit it. I try out a new congregation every single weekend, and I make no apologies for it.
Nah, not that kind of church hopper…you know, the one that switches membership more often than they switch air filters, or the kind that attends Sunday School at one church, catches the sermon at another, volunteers their time at a third, and has a cemetery plot at the church where there membership actually resides, because that’s what mama would’ve wanted.
The church where I serve is a multi-site church. We currently have nine campuses scattered across the Triangle region of North Carolina, with two additional campuses inside local prisons. In our structure, we have a central ministry team made up of ministry heads who give leadership to those ministries at each campus. In my role, I am responsible for guest services at all of our locations. We have a campus director (usually referred to as Associate Campus Pastor or Associate Campus Director) who directly executes the ministry at that campus, but my job is to coach that team and maintain our DNA across the board.
So why do I church hop?
Why do I attend a different campus every single Sunday?
Before I get there, you might want to know that I actually do worship with my family almost every single week. I’m grateful that the campus we actually attend has an 11:30 AM service, which allows me to spend most of the morning in another location, and then join them along with the rest of the bed-heads. That’s a big deal to me.
But it’s also a big deal that the first part of the day is spent traversing the Triangle. And if you’re a part of a multi-site church and your job is similar to mine, here are five quick reasons why I think you should join me in being a church hopper:
1. It allows me to help our DNA stay in alignment.
As an organization grows, it is increasingly more difficult to keep everyone on the same page. And yes, I understand that every campus will have a unique flavor. We celebrate and encourage that. But there are core parts of each of our ministries that must be maintained. Being at each campus 4+ times a year helps me to see where things are getting out of alignment and assist in making corrections.
2. It lets me get to know our front-line volunteers.
Because I’m in a central role, I get precious few opportunities to actually lead volunteers. Sure, I lead staff, but I miss rubbing shoulders with those on the front lines. Jumping campuses lets me hear from them: what’s working and not working and encouraging and frustrating. It helps me get to know what’s happening in their lives and in their ministries. And it helps me see the leadership gifts of our campus directors coming to fruition, because every one of ’em is raising up some rock stars.
3. It helps all the boats in the harbor rise.
All of our campuses have really great ideas they bring to the table. It’s one thing for a campus leader to tell me about it; it’s another for me to be able to see it in action. I love being able to walk around with one of our leaders and ask questions about why they’re doing something or have implemented something. Often times, those best ideas have a way of getting passed along to all campuses as a best practice.
4. It provides ongoing accountability.
It’s one thing to say “you just caught us on an off Sunday.” (I’ve heard that a time or two.) It’s quite another to recognize that the “off Sunday” is actually a pattern of what’s normal. I will be the first to admit that what I see is just a snapshot, but a series of those snapshots viewed several times a year can give a better picture of the actual health of the ministry.
5. It lets me provide real-time encouragement.
Our campus leaders are some of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met. Often they are wearing multiple hats and juggling multiple roles. Visiting them in their element lets me see where they’re excelling, where they’re stuck, and where they need to be using more of their gifts. Oh, and it gives me a chance to bring ’em a cup of coffee, so at least there’s one reason they are happy to see me. My goal in visits is (a) not to get in their way…I know they have a job to execute, and (b) not to be ridiculously critical…I know they might not be able to fix it on Sunday, and we’ll always have the opportunity for Monday morning quarterbacking. (You can ask them how I do on both of those. On second thought, please don’t.)
If you are a part of a multi-site church, I want to encourage you to be a church hopper. I know that sometimes that’s easier said than done. At one point I was not only responsible for overseeing my ministry area at all campuses, I was directly in charge of it at one campus. That made travel very, very difficult on Sunday morning. Regardless, I can tell you from several years of campus visits: it’s worth it to try and figure that out.
So come on, multi-site kids: be a church hopper. But stop being so fixated on the cemetery plot. Mama would’ve wanted it that way.