If there’s one thing that multi-site churches hold in common, it’s that we sign up for heartbreak. Think about it: we are intentionally creating space for some of our best leaders to leave. We are encouraging friends to spin out of our Sunday morning orbit. We are causing volunteer vacuums, which raises the stress levels of those who stay.
When a campus launch is on the horizon, we have to realize that key leadership will be moving beyond that horizon. So how do we manage the “left behind” feelings of sending campus?
1. Bring everyone to the table.
The entire sending campus needs to be in the loop of the launch…when it’s happening, why it’s happening…everything that can be communicated should be communicated at the appropriate time. This is never more true than for your volunteers. You need to help them navigate what’s next.
2. View “sending” as a win.
Many of us have experienced the feeling of having a valuable volunteer “stolen away,” whether that was to a new ministry across the hall or a new church across town. But if multi-site is to be successful, we have to remain joyful and open-handed with our volunteers, even encouraging them to consider taking a lead at the new campus. If we begrudgingly release them or subversively try to get them to stay, that attitude seeps into the entire team, dooming the excitement around the new campus before it even launches.
3. Double up on leadership.
Of course you know that you need to be consistently raising up leaders for your volunteer teams. But just in case you haven’t been doing that for that last month or two or the 129 months before that, now is the time. Every team lead needs a sidekick. Every service lead needs an apprentice. And every volunteer needs to shoulder tap a friend to serve alongside them. Seek to create a corporate brain dump so that everyone is pouring their knowledge and experience into someone else, and prepare the trainees to step into leadership roles before the campus launch happens.
4. Ask about intent.
No less than three months before the new campus launches, take a straw poll to find out who intends to be sent out. Again, this should be a time that brings joy and not dread. The purpose of this inquiry is not to try to talk people into staying, but to mentally prepare for the gaps that will be forming in your roster.
5. Master the handoff.
If you are the sending staff member, have frequent conversations with the receiving staff member. Talk about the strengths and weaknesses of each volunteer who will be sent. Let them know who is ready to serve in greater capacities, who may need to scale back, and who has hidden talents that may not be immediately obvious.
6. Commission and celebrate.
In the rush of launching and sending, don’t miss the opportunity to mark the service of your faithful volunteers. Commission them as they go out, thank them for how they’ve served at the sending location, and hold them up as a model for how we want all of our church members to think about living sent lives.
How do you send your best?