Multi-Site: How to Build Staff Culture Across Campuses
In a multi-site model, it’s far too easy to see overall church culture fall and cultural silos rise. As campuses build cohesion and unity (which they absolutely should), that cohesion can often come at the expense of the agreed-upon DNA of the church.
In a recent post we talked about how to build church culture across all campuses, but how does central leadership and campus leadership fight for a unified staff culture across campuses? Here are a few suggestions:
1. (For central leads) Get into their space.
Central staff teams can’t possibly know cultural disparity unless you’ve experience cultural immersion. Often we can villainize the culture we think we know, when it’s actually just a caricature that we’ve built in our mind. So before mischaracterizing, go on site. Be a church hopper. Observe. Ask good questions. Pitch in to help. Get to know the locals. You’ll find that doing this makes a big church feel small and bridges the gaps that you would otherwise feel.
2. (For campus leads) Get into another space.
Don’t tie yourself down to the campus where you serve. If you have a weekend off, visit another campus across town to see how your ministry area happens in their context. Take some of your volunteer leaders along with you and expose them to a different model. If you’re at a permanent facility, visit a portable facility (or vice-versa). Standing in a fresh space will not only give you fresh ideas (and help you identify gaps), but it’ll help you align your little slice of the church with others. [Kind-of-related post: How to Lead at Other Campuses (When You Can’t Leave Your Own)]
3. (For central leads) Know the local context.
If you cut your teeth in a permanent facility, it can be hard to understand the struggles of keeping a portable facility up to your perceived standard. But as I talked about in point #3 of this post, we must acknowledge and accommodate differences that are often influenced by local culture. “Getting into their space” (point #1 above) will help you with this, but also hearing clearly from your campus leads is of paramount importance. You should know what they are facing with local city codes, the landlords they’re renting from, even the personality differences of the local community.
4. (For campus leads) Talk about the good…and the struggles.
In our monthly Guest Services Directors meeting, I block out time for a “campus spotlight“, where one particular campus leader takes 5-10 minutes to talk about a big win (or a big pain point) they’re currently experiencing. This can be a new ministry experiment, a new volunteer initiative, or a hurdle they’re trying to overcome. It’s a time for their brothers and sisters on staff to know how they can specifically be praying for them and celebrating with them. But we don’t just listen to them talk…
5. (For all leads) Speak into the good…and the struggles.
…we take another 5-10 minutes for anyone in the room to give feedback, or encouragement, or constructive criticism on the issue at hand. Maybe there’s a blind spot that the presenting leader doesn’t see. Perhaps there’s a path they’re navigating that another campus has already been through. We’ve come to value those “speak into” times, because it builds so much unity and solidarity that we’re all in this together.
6. (For all leads) Find ways to serve together.
“Get the band back together” (point #5 in this post) will be a common refrain in this multi-site mini-series, but that just highlights the value of a group project. Whether it’s an all-church event, serving together at a local outreach event, or joining together to serve in another ministry area altogether, when central and campus leads come together, we’re able to better appreciate how we do things. Central leadership can demonstrate what’s expected, and campus leads can show off new and innovative ways they are leading in their local context.
How do you build staff culture across campuses?