As we draw closer to the start of the 2015 Youth Pastor Summits, we are excited for the privilege to feature many of our #YPS15 speakers on the blog in the coming weeks. Not only will they each be sharing valuable insight on youth ministry and leadership at our YPS events, but they have also taken the extra time to thoughtfully craft a blog sharing their own experiences and thoughts on student ministry. For more information on YPS and any of our 2015 speakers, visit www.youthpastorsummit.com.
3 Things You Must Do in Multi-Site Ministry
Ryan McDermott, Christ Fellowship Church
I will be the first one to admit... I have made a lot of mistakes in ministry.
I accepted my first full-time role in Student Ministry as a 19 year-old College student with very little to offer and a whole lot to prove. Ten years later, I recognize that many of the mistakes I have made stemmed from my failure to build the teams and the people that I needed to properly shepherd all that the Lord had entrusted to my care.
It took me a long time to learn that ministry is a team sport.
Serving in a multi-site student ministry context for the last 5 years has taught me a few things about building great teams; things I wish I could go back and apply to those early days in ministry.
It looks different in every church context, but I have found that the teams that work best together consistently do these 3 things...
1) CELEBRATE EVERY WIN.
We often say, “A win anywhere is a win everywhere.” If you want to do multi-site ministry really well, every campus needs to be equally important to each and every team member. Campuses need to be equally resourced and equally championed. I need to be just as informed, excited, and vocal about things that are going on at other campuses as I am about the things that are going on at my campus. When you meet with leaders... pray for all of your campuses. When you have student service... show pictures and highlights of what God is doing at other campuses. When you make a video... make sure you have student representation from every campus. When you preach a message... tell stories of kids from other campuses. When you have staff meetings... Celebrate wins at every campus and give them stories to take back to their people. It is also important to find ways to get students from every campus in the same place at the same time. Camps, missions trips, nights of worship, whatever works for you... Give them the big picture. Promote unity in any and every way that you can because a win anywhere is a win everywhere!
2) CHECK THE ALIGNMENT.
Over the last five years I have seen a few multi-site student ministry teams who have no idea what is going on at any other campus. Each ministry is totally autonomous, they each do their own message series, and there is little-to-no collaboration on events or initiatives. I think that can work in some extreme cases, but I think it is always very difficult. You can’t keep everyone moving in the same direction without checking your alignment. My wife and I love to get out and ride our bikes. If we plan to go on a ride together, we can’t just talk about where we will end up, we have to talk about how we are getting there as well. We plan the destination and the route. If we just get on our bikes and ride we may end up in the same place (if we are lucky), but if we don’t decide to take the same route... 1. We don’t get to enjoy the journey together. 2. We are not there to support each other if something goes wrong. 3. You never know how long it will take each of us to arrive. Whether it is your golf swing, your back, or the tires on your broke down Honda... checking your alignment is essential to performing your best.
3) FIGHT TO GET AHEAD.
Your personal relationship with the Lord is the best gift you can give to your team. Being planned and prepared is the second greatest gift you can give them. This is one of the most difficult, and the most valuable thing you will ever do in ministry. We live in an unpredictable world where needs, emergencies, and chaos can arrive in a moment's notice. I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest things for me to do is to be in the same place at the same time every week. Ministry doesn’t typically work like that. It is not a 9-5 job. There are always more things to do, more people who need your attention, and more meetings bumping their way into your calendar last minute. None of those things are acceptable reasons to be unprepared to serve, love, and teach your students. In multi-site ministry you cannot over-communicate and you cannot over-prepare. You must fight to get ahead. Our message outlines are always due at least 8 weeks before they are ever preached. We currently have our messages written up to our Missions Camp in mid-June. How? We are constantly fighting to get ahead. Do things change? All the time! But our planning and preparation allow us the margin we need to be flexible. Someone has a brilliant idea at the last minute? Good. We can pull it off because we’re not scrambling to figure out what we are saying this week. I would highly encourage you to plan your entire ministry calendar out at least one year in advance. It is not as hard as you think. One thing I can guarantee is that the fight to get ahead is always worth it.