Multi-Site: Are You Owning or Resourcing?
For every multi-site church, it seems there’s a slightly different approach to multi-site structure (see a few examples here). In our approach, we have more of a centralized structure. That is, we have a central staff team that’s broken up into ministry support (finance, communication, human resources, creativity, events, etc.) and ministry leaders (guest services, kids, students, etc.).
(To further tease that out for the multi-site nerds among us: many of our campus ministry directors have a central counterpart, and vice-versa. For example, as Pastor of Guest Services, I have a Guest Services Director at each campus. Some are full-time, some are part-time, some are full-time wearing many ministry hats.)
Whatever the nuances of your structure, if you have a central staffing model, there is one question that will continue to bubble to the service:
Is central owning or resourcing?
Owning simply means that the central team is developing the plan, calling the shots, and executing the project / event / service. Resourcing means the central team is shaping the plan, providing ongoing coaching of the campus team, and perhaps providing budget and supplies, but implementation and execution is left to the individual campuses or ministries.
This is a vital question to answer, both clearly and often, depending on the situation. While the following list is certainly not exhaustive and certainly not the final answer in all categories, here are some examples of where our central staff team owns and where we resource:
All-church events: owning
Events like Church at the Ballpark or Christmas at DPAC are typically led centrally, but with a ton of campus help. Because these are such mammoth undertakings, it takes all of our staff, all of our volunteers, and a lot of new volunteers to pull it off. Representatives of different central ministries will usually run point on the concept, plan, and execution.
Regional campus events: resourcing
Events like Christmas With the Summit or Campus Prayer Nights are generally resourced centrally in preparation to be hosted at individual campus locations. We’ll provide a structure, ideas, and often times budget or supplies, but the actual execution of the plan is taken care of by campus staff teams or the particular ministry heads at that campus.
All-ministry events: owning
Events like Small Group Leader Training or a College Ministry Conference will usually bring all leaders and volunteers from one particular ministry together at one particular location. In these cases, the central ministry leader / team will run point on the leadership of the event, depending on help from ministry leads at each campus.
Weekend services: resourcing
Our default for the weekend is that of resourcing: any worship service, ministry team strategy, curriculum plan, etc. is initially constructed by the central team, but it’s nuanced and executed at a campus level. Using a Guest Services example, my central team provides training resources, team structures, troubleshooting help, and on-site feedback, but the week-to-week operations of that team is the responsibility of the campus ministry director. In another example, our creative team provides video production, signage templates, etc., and what’s required vs. recommended is a conversation between central and campus leadership.
There are certainly other areas where the owning or resourcing question comes into play, and where it may be easy to get the lines blurred. For example, campus launches are a ballet between central (who usually speaks into site plans, resource ordering, etc.) and campus (who is hiring staff, recruiting a core team, training volunteers, etc.).
The big point in all of this: always know who is ownning, and who is resourcing. To confuse the two leads to incredible frustration all around. But clarity is kindness, and will save you and your team a ton of headaches.