The Role of a Campus Pastor at a Multisite Church

Greg-AtkinsonThis past week, I was contacted by a minister who was getting ready to start his new role of campus pastor at a multisite church in 2014. He asked me to share with him what my week and responsibilities looked like and to explain the role of the campus pastor.

Believe it or not, this is something I do often and will be doing more in the future as a resource and partner on my friend Scott Williams’ new website

Basically, I told this future campus pastor that it all comes down to people. I spend my time with, for, helping, serving, leading, training and equipping people.

How is this different from a senior pastor? I guess I would say it’s the amount of extra time I have for investing in personal relationships. A good portion of a senior pastor’s week is locked away in a study preparing a sermon for Sunday. That’s the hard reality of his job. I don’t have that pressure. What I do have is time. Time for people.

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I counsel, I shepherd, I lead, I invest, I build teams and I work on strategy, vision, policies and structure.

Last night, for example, we held a cookout and LifeGroup Huddle (that’s what we call it) for our LifeGroup leaders. This was a chance for the leaders of our campus’ LifeGroups to socialize, eat, share ideas and insight and for me to inspire, direct and vision cast. My friend Jim Tomberlin told me a long time ago that a campus pastor has to be able to talk in front of groups of all sizes and that he must be the champion for small groups at that campus.

Now, mind you, I have a lay leader that I invest in who oversees our LifeGroups, but I still must champion, cheer, support and promote those groups to our congregation. So yesterday, I took time out of my day to work on a 5-minute talk to give our LifeGroup leaders last night. I talked about how much I loved them, treasured them and supported them; what God was up to in our church; our discipleship philosophy; where we’re headed; and stated again why we do LifeGroups and how crucial they are to our mission as a church.

What else does a campus pastor do? A lot. It will probably be put down in a future eBook, but for now, I’ll just say:

  • I lead my staff. I meet with each of them and invest in them and keep a pulse on what each of our ministries is up to. Paid staff that I meet with are my admin, my worship pastor, my kids' pastor and my student pastor.
  • I lead lay leaders. I have weekly meetings with key lay leaders in our church. Some are thinkers and strategy people. Some are passionate about evangelism. Some are passionate about discipleship. Some are passionate about serving and outreach. I collaborate with and invest in each of them.
  • I do several community meetings. Since I’m not preparing for a sermon, I have plenty of time to get out into the community and leave the office. I try to live on mission and form relationships with people in the community (restaurants, coffee shops, etc.). I do a Community Coalition luncheon once a month. I do an Ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce meeting once a month. I do a marketing committee meeting with the Chamber of Commerce once a month. I go to ribbon cuttings and open houses with the Chamber. I get my face and our church’s name out in the community. I meet with the police chief, the fire chief, the mayor. You get the picture.
  • I do counseling and appointments with church members as they come up. I have set aside three days in my week that have openings for appointments. Sometimes I disciple guys one on one at various hours, including late into the night.
  • I oversee the benevolence ministry for our campus. In the past month, I’ve paid four electric bills and two mortgage payments. Nobody really knows we do this for people—only me and the ones who write and sign the check.
  • I prepare for Sunday. I think through my welcome and what I’m going to say and what I’m going to highlight (this is another discussion). I think through my response after reading or watching the video of the message/sermon. I pray about the direction I’m going to go as I lead the response after the message. I think about if I’m going to have a call to respond to the gospel or just lead our people in prayer. I think about the close of our service and what announcements needs to be mentioned. (Note: We don’t do announcements at the beginning of our service or during the welcome.) I meet with our worship pastor and collaborate and plan out the Sunday experience—where we’re headed, what the mood will be like and what point we’re trying to drive home.
  • I work on policies and procedures for our campus. As we are rapidly growing, we need to lay infrastructure to keep up and maintain balance and order.
  • I work on random projects. Right now I’m working on multiple projects including what’s called our Carthage influencer project (an evangelism and outreach strategy), building usage policies and fees, our volunteer of the week (we just started highlighting a volunteer/servant each week; we got this idea from Elevation Church/Steven Furtick), a 90-day giving challenge (this is something we’re doing in September to go along with a financial sermon series), and our annual back-to-school project, where we bless and thank our teachers and principals at all the schools in our city and let them know we’re praying for them as they start the school year. We also give them a gift from the church. Several random projects like this come up throughout the year.
  • I work on my messages that I preach as they come up. I have the freedom to preach as much as I would like at my campus. I choose to preach every other month. Right now, I’m working on two September financial messages—one for Sunday morning/guests and one for our quarterly Night of Worship, where I will challenge our core members.
  • This week I’m working on baptism follow-up with at least 18 adults. We have a river baptism next Sunday, and I’m meeting with each of the baptism candidates this week and next week (that takes a lot of time).
  • I lead our campus’ assimilation strategy and process. This means each week, my admin goes through our communication cards and lets me know who signed up to serve, who wants to talk with the pastor, who was a first-time guest, who was a second-time guest, who signed up for a LifeGroup and who needs prayer.
  • I send a handwritten note and a gift card to all first-time guests. I also send a welcome email. I’m trying to call each of them, too, as time allows and as they answer—usually I end up leaving a message.
  • I send a form letter to all second-time guests, and they get a different gift card. The above to two items on assimilation we got from my friend Nelson Searcy’s book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church.
  • I lead a weekly staff meeting on Wednesday with my paid staff and key lay leaders. I prep for this and develop a meeting agenda on Tuesday.
  • I meet weekly with our church’s senior leadership team (each Thursday afternoon). This is a team of 4 men in the entire Forest Park Church that oversee the church and talk about vision, strategy and direction of the church as a whole.
  • I oversee most of my campus’ online presence and strategy. This has to do with the use of Twitter, Facebook, advertising/marketing, etc., and all local marketing (signs, billboards, banners, mailers, newspaper, etc.).

I’m sure I’m forgetting other stuff, but the bottom line is: I stay busy.

Thankfully, I have a lot of freedom at my campus, which is a good fit for me. I submit to our lead pastor and his vision and our church’s DNA, but there are things that are different or unique about our campus, and I think that’s cool. There’s no one-size-fits-all for multisites, and if you’re a campus pastor at a multisite church that teaches live instead of utilizes video, then a lot of what I just said would be different for you, too.

I’m always up for helping, coaching, consulting and training leaders and pastors, and you know I have a heart for campus pastors. If I can help in any way, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Keep pressing on, and know that what you do matters! It’s all about investing in people. Love on them!

Greg Atkinson is the campus pastor at Forest Park Carthage, a multisite church with 5,000 members based in Joplin, Mo. He has started businesses, including the worship resource website WorshipHouse Media (where he served as director), a social media marketing company and his own consulting firm. As a consultant, Greg has worked with some of the largest and fastest-growing churches across the United States. His latest project is his new e-book, Church Leadership 101, which has been downloaded by more than 16,000 church leaders around the world.

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