Addressing Top Communications Challenges for Multisite Churches Blog Feature

By: Jamie Shafer on June 01, 2017

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Addressing Top Communications Challenges for Multisite Churches

Multisite | Communication | Church Culture

When it comes to multisite church ministry, we find that there are so many approaches, ideas, challenges—and questions! Here are a few of the top questions we hear and tips on how to meet communication challenges.

What’s the best way to approach the naming of our specific sites? 

Are you one church with many locations? If so, you will share a common name and will need a way to indicate your specific locations. We recommend that you dream big as you are naming sites. If you’re expanding First Church to multiple sites, you might distinguish them as First Church/North and First Church/West, for example. But what happens when you launch a new site that is even farther north? Or in another city? Consider adopting the town/city/area name or even a street name to differentiate your campuses. 

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We are an established church that is launching a new site. The problem is that the name we’ve had for decades doesn’t make sense in the new location. Help!

Will Park Street Baptist Church translate when your new site is on Butler Street? Probably not. Consider a strategic renaming process to select a name that works well in any region/location. This process can be difficult for some current church members and will require your leaders to seek input and cast vision. Ultimately, your new name should be an expression of who you are as a church, in any location. Handle this process with prayer and ample time to affect change.

We’ve worked hard to create communications guidelines for our church. We’re growing so fast, and I’m worried our other sites will begin developing rogue communications vehicles.

A time of growth in any church, especially for multisites, is a time to over-communicate. It’s important that everyone understands “the why” behind your multisite vision. Why is this a good way to express your church’s mission? Who are you trying to reach? How will you staff for basic needs—preaching/teaching, pastoral care, connections, communications, facilities?

As you articulate your mission, move down to specific strategies and goals. If one of your goals is to provide consistent messaging across campuses, then talk about that as a value for your team. Define what is essential across campuses and where there is room to express local flavor. If a leader is passionate about a ministry, they will communicate—with or without you. Establish clear processes for how an event or initiative is shared, based on ministry priorities. If leaders should start with a centralized communications team to get the ball rolling, let them know how to do that and help them see how this increases their effectiveness. Consider creating a short training video or a document to help them understand how and when to share their opportunities.

We’ve taken care of pastoral staffing for our sites, but how should we address staffing communications?

Luke 14:28 highlights the wisdom of counting the cost when we commit to something new and significant. All ministry requires resources, whether that be time, finances, or people. Sometimes, when planning for new sites, church leaders are tempted to think that communications will just “work itself out.” You may or may not need a communications staff member at your individual sites, but you will need one for your church as a whole. This person is responsible for helping to make sure your communications tools are streamlined, scalable, and most of all—strategic for your church’s mission.

At a minimum, you will also need communications champions at your various sites. These are people who understand the church’s mission and the value of clear, compelling communications. They could be volunteers, interns, or paid staff. They work to keep the lines of your church’s communications network going and they help to stay connected to your primary communications leader. They spot opportunities for improvement, stories to share, and may even help with specific tasks like social media. They can also help to recruit additional members for your communications ministry.

Leah Norton, partner at Fishhook, will be presenting on the topic of casting vision for and communicating the launch of your next church at Aspen’s 2017 Alignment Conference. We hope to see you there!

Jamie Shafer holds a dual role as the Learning and Development Manager and a Communications Strategist at Fishhook. She harnesses her love for Jesus, the local church, communications, and lifelong learning to train, encourage, and partner with churches of all shapes and sizes. Whether it's through one-on-one coaching, team assessments and training, or a Fishhook University course, each day is spent helping churches "catch more" through communications that connect