I’ve said before that there are as many ways to arrange a multi-site church as there are multi-site churches. If your structure includes some form of central oversight, or depends on campuses to have a similar DNA, then this post will be helpful.
Years ago the team at Seacoast Church put together a series of documents called IPODs, designed to help each initial launch think through those items that were Initial expectations for new campuses, Priority expectations to be completed within the first year of campus launch, Optional ideas for each campus to use, and practices that campuses are Discouraged from attempting.
We put together IPODs for many of our ministry areas, and they were useful when it came time to launch a campus. However, we realized that – while IPODs were great for launching a campus, they had some drawbacks when it came to assessing an established campus.
We went back to the drawing board to develop another series of documents, only this time they were designed to help us have a one-page list of campus standards for each ministry. EPOD stands for:
- Essential: those expectations that must be met across all Summit campuses.
- Preferred: proven strategies or programs that are encouraged at all campuses.
- Optional: areas where campuses can explore strategies on their own.
- Discouraged: those things that you never, ever do.
For us, an EPOD takes up no more than one page, so it’s easy to see standards at a glance. (We may occasionally link to a supplementary document that explains a line in further detail.) As an exercise, we initially developed the EPODs separately: central staff created a draft and campus staff created a separate draft. But here’s the encouraging thing: when the two drafts were compared to one another, they were almost line-by-line similar. (Translation: the DNA had – thankfully – not leaked as much as we might have assumed.)
My biggest personal win for an EPOD is that it’s a “no surprises” document. When I visit a campus, our guest services directors don’t have to scramble to play a game of “What will Danny care about today?” If we’ve drafted the document correctly, we have established common standards that we’re all pushing for and looking for.
Bottom line: multi-site churches, you need an EPOD…or something similar. What can you do this week to get your DNA aligned?