Keys To Multisite Ministry & Campus Pastor Success [Interview]

A_Campus_Pastors_Thoughts_On_Multisite.jpgPhoto from MountainLake.tv

While our team here at Vanderbloemen wrote our Multisite EbookI had the opportunity to sit down with long-time Campus Pastor and friend Cameron Whitley, who has been a Campus Pastor at Mountain Lake Church in Georgia and Woodlands Church in Texas. Check out his insight on multisite church models and the role of Campus Pastors.

Danny: Have you become an Atlanta Falcons fan yet?

Cameron: Not a chance! I’ll always be a diehard Cowboys fan.

Danny: I’m sorry to hear that. What do you enjoy most about being a Campus Pastor?

Cameron: For me, it’s the ability to fly at a high level of leadership while still maintaining a “boots on the ground” mentality. I never want to give up the opportunity to meet with people and see real life change in the lives of those in the community. It also gives me the opportunity to teach intermittently throughout the year instead of having to prepare week after week. 

Danny: Multisite church models have been gaining popular for several years now. They seem to be popping up everywhere. Do you see them slowing down or changing anytime soon? And if so, how?

Cameron: No way. I really feel like the multisite movement is here to stay. Just as the 80’s saw the massive rise in “Sunday School,” the multisite movement seems to just be picking up speed. It’s the fastest way churches can grow their congregation numerically, increase their sphere of influence, and ultimately make a bigger impact on the communities they reach.

The questions churches need to be asking themselves aren’t “Should we multisite?” but rather, “Why should we multisite? And if our motives are pure, then how do we do it effectively?” There are so many ways to do multisite, so each church should find the most effective way, adapt it to their culture/environment, and staff it with great people.

Danny: As a tenured Campus Pastor, what advice would you give a Senior Pastor contemplating moving the church to a multisite model?

Cameron: Define your model. Like I said, there are so many ways to do it well. There’s the one personality model, where the Senior Pastor is the primary communicator. There’s the teaching team model, where a select few are on a rotation. There’s the live teaching model, where the Campus Pastor leads regularly.

Find the multisite model that fits your church best and stay true to it. Tweet: Find the multisite model that fits your church best and stay true to it. @CameronW126 http://bit.ly/1RLGnZj via @VanderbloemenSG

Danny: You know a lot of Campus Pastors around the country. Do you ever hear any common frustrations of or drawbacks to being a Campus Pastor?

Cameron: Most consistent is the tension of being your own leader. Every situation is different and has its own set of unique challenges, but the one area I hear about most is how to lead well and be innovative within boundaries set by a Senior Pastor. Natural leaders lead, and there’s always a sense of managing a level of contentment within that environment.

Danny: How do you deal with the tension of your own leadership while sitting under your Senior Pastor, and what would say to Senior Pastors that are reading this?

Cameron: First off, you have to earn the right of being an autonomous leader by leading up well to your senior leader or leaders. Trust is earned, not freely given. As far as what I would tell a Senior Pastor, it’s the senior leader’s responsibility to give leadership away, whether that’s teaching, strategic events, growth strategies for the campus, or all of the above. It’s extremely important to give a strong Campus Pastor permission to make their own decisions, even with its bumps and bruises. At the same time, that Senior Pastor needs to understand the Campus Pastor’s capacity and ability, and one of the key ways to gauge that is through a healthy relationship. Time invested in that relationship cannot be avoided if you want that Campus Pastor to be an extension of the Senior Pastor’s heart and talent. Setting up a healthy structure like that is of utmost importance.

Even the most talented Campus Pastors will not succeed under a dysfunctional structure. Tweet: Even the most talented Campus Pastors will not succeed under a dysfunctional structure @CameronW126 http://bit.ly/1RLGnZj @VanderbloemenSG

Danny: You’ve been a Campus Pastor in two different settings. Are there any similarities/differences that are obvious?

Cameron: The similarities would be the tension between the senior leadership and being your own leader like we discussed. However, I think that’s going to be in every multisite ministry setting no matter where you go. The differences are too many to count. Structurally, the campus models are set up differently. For example, at Mountain Lake, the Campus Pastors are able to give a bit more input into where the church is going.

Danny: How do you create a unique culture at your campus while still maintaining the overarching culture of the church?

Cameron: There are some things that should always transfer seamlessly, such as the vision and mission. However, how you practice these and go about fulfilling them in your unique context is what can and should be able to change and flex as needed. For instance, if your “ministry focus” is family ministry, why are you thinking of a downtown/urban campus? The Campus Pastor needs to look and feel like the community (passions/hobbies/etc). If you stay true to your ministry philosophy, it’ll be much easier for your campuses to follow suit. 

Danny: Say you have a church that is contemplating launching its first multisite campus. How does this church know if it's ready? What should “ready” be based upon?

Cameron: “Ready” is so subjective, but I’d say if the church is financially prepared to support the campus for a season, then the next area to look at the demographics of the people. Is there a true need to go multisite? The decision shouldn’t just be based upon growth but should be for the benefit of the church body and the surrounding community. Ultimately the questions become, “Can your mission and vision be enlarged and continued through another area?” and “Will people and communities benefit from you being there?”

There you have it - insights into Campus Pastor and multiside ministry success straight from the frontlines.

If your church is multisite, how do you maintain the balance of leadership between the Lead Pastor and the Campus Pastor(s)?

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