Mothering A Multisite

Let me define multi-site very briefly so that we’re all on the same page:  a multi-site is one congregation that worships in multiple locations.Sometimes those locations may be on the same campus.  Other times—and often—they are on different campuses.  One church; many locations.

Since it’s one church, it has one lead pastor, one voters assembly, one board of directors, one name, etc. that are all pulling one direction, all going to Florida.  Since it has multiple locations, it needs multiple “pastors” of the locations, multiple staff for the locations, somewhat different feels for the locations, etc., and the understanding that the sites might dance to slightly different music—some doing the cha cha others doing the two step.  But in a multisite regardless of the slightly different dance styles, they all have agreed to dance, and they’re all dancing their way to Florida.

So as perhaps you can see by the “both/and” description of what a multi-site is, it’s one of the more complicated ways to plant a mission.  However it is also one of the best stewardship models because of the long-term viability you can help ensure through leveraging system strengths.  Strengths like lay leaders, dollars, name, reputation, experience, and knowledge.   And when done properly, it creates a synergy that is both exciting and powerful.

This “both/and” is why I was tempted to title this article “Multi-Site: The Mother of All Missions.”  However you want to take that.  I say this a little tongue in cheek—but probably only a little—because if you simply plant another congregation and turn her loose, it would be similar to raising a daughter on a fast-track schedule and then having her move out of state.  She’s still yours; you might occasionally have her back for vacations and special holidays.  You can definitely claim you daughtered her; but she’s an adult, living on her own.  When she screws up, you can blame her father.

A multi-site is more akin to you’ve been the lone princess in the family; you get all of the praise, all of the presents, and everyone thinks you’re pretty.  But all of a sudden mom tells you you’re getting a sister.  Now, you’ve heard stories about sisters.  You’ve seen the movie Carrie.  Perhaps you think sisters can be cool, especially if you have some mothering instinct in you.  But before you know it, you discover they can also be a challenge, especially when have to share the same bathroom and decide who gets to use the car Friday night.

So in a church plant where to a great extent that daughter can easily become “out of sight, out of mind,” in a multi-site you may want her out-of-site, out-of-mind, and there will be lots of times you literally forget to invite her to the picnic because she is out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  The reality is, though, that she’s there, growing fast, and sharing your bedroom.

So if you want the family to stay happy, you need to pay close, close, close attention to the sibling relationship.  Because in a multi-site, relationship is everything.  It’s everything.  And that’s because relationships and unity are go hand in hand.

My sister-in-law and her family have two boys—14 & 11.  Two years ago they adopted two sisters, 2 & 4.  But before they could become foster parents and a foster family and ultimately adopt those girls, they had to go through multiple classes so that they could understand all of the difficulties of raising children whom you didn’t birth.  Especially how that was going to affect all of the relationships.

That’s the goal of this article.  I’ve tried to make it as straight-forward and realistic as possible not to discourage you, but rather to set your expectations in a proper perspective.  Because the last thing I want is for you to add a sibling to your family and then lay awake at night wondering what in the world have I done?

I’ve organized the learning into seven topics.

Next week, topic 1: Rules.

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