It appears that the multi-campus strategy for church growth is here to stay…for a while, anyway. And regardless of how you might feel about it, if your church decides to launch a new campus or two or three, you will quickly find yourself trying to figure out what that looks like in your youth ministry setting.
Our church, thus our youth ministry, has been functioning as a multi-site campus for about seven years. Because we’ve been at it so long, you’d think we would have it completely or mostly or at least partially figured out by now. And we do! We have it partially figured out (we’re slow learners). As our youth ministry has struggled to get our arms around multi-site youth ministry, here are a few of the bigger questions we’ve asked ourselves as we continue to muddle our way through a multi-campus approach to youth ministry:
Does The Youth Ministry Approach To Multi-site Ministry Need To Mirror That Of The Larger Church? Because so many youth ministries have a fair amount of autonomy and often do things ways that don’t reflect the rest of the church, it makes sense that this question needs to be asked. Our decision was that we would mirror the larger church in the bigger, more crucial, pieces of the strategy while reserving the freedom to customize things that we needed to. As a result, our youth ministry multi-site strategy is a very similar looking hybrid of the overall strategy.
How Much Freedom Do We Want Each Youth Ministry To Have? This is a huge, and ongoing question. Right now our motto is, “We Are Many; We Are One!” which is an attempt to keep in the forefront of our minds the desire to be one youth group in several locations. In reality we are several youth groups that share leadership, resources, strategy, etc. We’ve created a red light, yellow light, green light system of checks and balances: Red Light things are things the various campuses have to do exactly like the rest of us. Yellow light things are things they can “proceed with caution” on; do it how they want but be mindful of bigger picture. Green light things are things they have complete freedom to do in any way that makes sense in their context. Determining the level of control your central or “main” campus will have over the others is a fundamental question that needs to be answered…and evaluated on a regular basis.
How Do We Solve The Curriculum Quandary? What do the various campuses teach, and when? Who writes curriculum and lessons? Are messages pre-produced on video to ensure quality control across the board? Should every campus be on the exact same scope and sequence? We’ve decided that each campus can have the freedom to teach anything they want…as long as it’s from our massive archive of lessons that have already been used in our original youth ministry. Not a perfect approach, but it’s working for us.
If you happen to be part of a multi-site youth ministry, please share some of the questions you’ve had to answer along the way!