How to Effectively Manage a Multisite Church

Systems and operation may not be the most glamorous aspect of church life, but they are crucial to making multisite work well. In this webinar we lift the lid on what it takes to manage a church that exists across a number of sites. Whilst some of the application varies depending on the number of sites and complexity of the organisation, this will be a practical conversation that covers principles that are important in any stage and style of multisite church. 

Special Guest: Phil Varley (senior associate pastor of Kings Church London)


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Multisite Challenges

  • Going to multisite has been compared to building a plane whilst you are flying in the air. 
  • There is often tensions in the dynamic between senior leaders and operational leaders, but when harnessed rightly this can be a good thing and can fuel creativity. 
  • One of the challenges is seeing large areas of church life that you were not involved in shaping. 
  • There can be problems when you are not clear about who is responsible for what, and who is able to make what decisions. 
  • Which areas of church life will we all do the same way and where is there space to do things differently? 
  • Cultural areas are key things to hold as constants across the church. 
  • Sometimes a site can feel envious or 'second-rate' if it is not doing well and another site is.

How Do You Decide Who Is In the Room For What?

  • Getting people together and helping them feel part of the whole church rather than silo-ing is very helpful.
  • Small meetings are needed for decision making.
  • Big meetings are needed to get people bought in and test those decisions, plus team morale.
  • Meeting structure needs to change regularly as the needs of the church evolve. 

What Lessons Have You Learned From This Time In Lockdown?

  • It's an inventive, creative season.
  • It has made decision making really fast.
  • Use of technology to facilitate making things work.
  • In a big organisation leaders can feel quite distant from people, but a time like this means drawing close and connecting with people 1 on 1 with phone calls etc.

What Things Do You Measure and What Do You Do With The Numbers?

  • Sunday attendance.
  • How many newcomers and how they are followed up.
  • Finances
  • Online presence.
  • Community group involvement. 
  • First time commitments and baptisms.
  • Try to keep an eye on these numbers weekly. 
  • When you see something not right in the numbers it can push you to change things to address the issues that you have seen.
  • Measure numbers vs the capacity of the building. If it is too full (or the car park is, or the kids rooms are, etc) it can put up an obstacle for newcomers.

How Do You Train People In Speaking With Your Church Voice?

  • Treat carefully who has access to do these things. 
  • Culture is very important in communication. 
  • You can say the same message but the tone makes it very different. 
  • If someone owns and carries the vision for an event it will be communicated much better than if just the information is conveyed.
  • Certain announcements are site leader jobs and should not be passed on to the Sunday anchor person.
  • Voice can't always be taught. It is a nuanced feel that is caught. 

If Someone Has an Idea For an Event, What Would They Do With It?

  • A lot of initiatives do come out of the centre. 
  • The idea would go to a site leader. 
  • If it involved a lot of money and people, more questions would be asked.
  • It needs to sit within the church culture and approach. 
  • If it does fit into the general approach and doesn't use too many resources, try to lean into yes rather than no.
  • For a pioneering multisite you need innovative, self-starting people.
  • Most ideas do not have too much of a financial imperative. 
  • It is also important to think about the effect that things have on a church calendar. You want to avoid it becoming too crowded. 
  • People will also often want things publicised and this will compete with other things you are trying to promote, so there is a need to be careful with this. 
  • It is different if people want the church to 'own' the event.