Your initial steps into the world of the multisite church can be intimidating. It isn’t a lack of willingness to make it happen; it’s simply knowing where to begin.
Launching your first multisite location, in its simplicity, is replicating what you currently do at another location. And although the endeavor is simple, the process to get there is incredibly complex—particularly for kids’ ministry.
There are a lot of moving parts within an established children’s ministry. There are things you do, events you host, processes established and policies understood that didn’t happen overnight. They took time to set in motion.
In fact, when you take inventory of all the things you must replicate in order to launch a multisite location, the list can be overwhelming.
I believe there are three major focuses of a Kidmin leader that will equip you for a successful multisite launch:
Determining your strategy
Building your volunteer launch team
Prioritizing your programming
I’ll unpack each focus in a series of posts. If your church leadership is moving toward the multisite model, these posts can help you successfully navigate the unfamiliar waters of multisite ministry.
Let’s tackle determining your strategy first.
I’ve met a lot of different Kidmin leaders that lead within a multisite model. And the reasons or philosophies driving them to multisite ministry are as varied as the churches themselves. But I’ve found that how you find solutions to meeting the needs of your campuses are driven by the reason you launched the campus in the first place. They are philosophical in nature.
For this reason, it’s important to ask some clarifying questions to help you determine a sustainable approach to multisite ministry:
What are your non-negotiables? Do you want a child/family to experience the same programming no matter what location they attend? If yes, then a clear non-negotiable is curriculum. Curriculum is determined by you or your designee, and the campus leadership does not have the freedom to change it. Is it your desire that the campus leadership have the freedom to choose curriculum based upon their campus needs and the community they serve? If yes, then provide a list of parameters that help a campus leader ensure they provide teaching that is consistent with your church values and theology.
How interdependent and intradependent do you want the locations to be? All locations will bear the same church name. But is the goal that each location could have the option of becoming independent in the future? If yes, then your staff structure and supporting systems should reflect this outcome. Collaboration within the Kidmin teams will center around ideation. You will leverage the power of varied thoughts, talents and ideas rallied around the same goal. But the efforts required to implement programming, events, etc., are all localized at the campus. Or maybe your desire is to leverage the power of numbers by increasing the level of intradependence between campuses. This means that each campus is equipped with things like pre-prepped curriculum. These materials are prepped and ready to implement. The church (as a whole) leverages the power of bulk purchasing. This saves ministry dollars and streamlines these efforts so that more time and energy can be invested in other areas of ministry at the campus level.
How will you structure for intradependence? Will you build a support team that is not anchored to a campus ministry, but provides global services such as bulk ordering, curriculum prep, etc.? At LifeChurch.tv, I led a campus Kidmin team. Each month I reported projected attendance numbers to a central team, who took that information and determined and prepped the materials I needed to implement ministry to kids preschool through fifth grade.This required a separate team of people to crank out materials for all the campuses each month. And as a ministry leader, my time was more available to meet the shepherding needs of the kids, families and volunteers at my campus. Or maybe you will pull a percentage of time from each Kidmin leader at each campus to contribute toward the global efforts that benefit all campuses. This is currently the mode at my church. Each Kidmin staff member has a global responsibility. This allows us to leverage a portion of the time and talent of each team member for the benefit of the entire team. One team member might lead the elementary programming team, while another team member will lead our volunteer recruitment, training and equipping efforts. Each campus leader has a piece of the global pie and contributes toward making the entire ministry better.
Though this is not a comprehensive list of questions, these are important to address. As you plan for your first campus launch, I highly recommend exploring these questions with your leadership to help you you form a sustainable plan. In my next series of posts, we’ll discuss building your volunteer launch team and prioritizing your programming.
Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children’s ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tenn.