Church multi-site communications can present a unique set of problems. For starters, every campus will share some of the main campus’s DNA in terms of branding, website, and central resources (i.e. financial and membership resources). Yet, tugging at the heart of each campus is the desire to make itself unique. Every campus wants to figure what makes them different from all the other campuses. Is it the location? The building? Style of worship?
These are the type of questions that can keep a communications team up at night. With every little difference of a campus, you find something doesn’t scale (i.e. every campus has their own bulletin). And when things aren’t scaling, serving every campus equally can be near impossible.
So how do you rectify this problem? How do you get control of the situation and get a sense how to best serve all your campuses? Well, I think it can be done, and it starts with asking this question:
What’s your campus model?
Okay, so here’s what I mean about campus model. Are you in the type of campus model where every campus is exactly like the others? Does each feel almost identical when you walk in the door? Is the worship set the same at every campus? Is video preaching coming from the video?
Or is your campus where every one has its unique look to it? Does each campus have a specific pastor that preaches the same sermon topics but in their own unique way? Does each campus have its own unique worship style?
If you’re struggling with the answer to the first question, try answering a second question. This second question may help better define your answer to the first question.
How much of your model is contextualized or continued on each campus?
For example, will you let campuses have small groups or will they call it Sunday School? Maybe the small groups language works in one environment and Sunday School works better in another environment. This is contextualization.
Will all campuses agree to a statement of faith? Will they all have the same reporting structure? If so, then this is continuity (continued).
Now clearly these are black and white questions and we know that this isn’t really a black and white situation. That’s why when you’re answering these questions, you need think of your answers like a sliding scale.
For example, you might determine that 20% of what all campuses are going to do is continuity and 80% of what they do is contextualization. So the 20% of continuity may be a statement of faith, sermon series, and overall branding. However, the rest is 80% contextualization, and we’ll let each campus figure that out.
By determining what is continuity vs. contextualization on some sort of scale, you can then have the conversations with other campuses that will help to better shape your communication processes.
If your team knows that 80% of each campus is contextualized, then they can know which branding elements need to be consistent and then which ones can be customized for each campus.
At the end of the day, if your communications team has a clear idea of what the non-negotiables (continuity) are, then it makes their goals, objectives, and tasks all that much easier. So answer these two questions and save your team a lot of work.