Home > Blog > “The X Factor-Shared Services”: How Multisiters Can Get This Right

December 19, 2015

“The X Factor-Shared Services”: How Multisiters Can Get This Right

By Stephen Smith

Sometimes called Central Support or Central Services, this is the “team of teams” that supports ministry segments across all multisite locations.

Trust me when I tell you, this facet of a comprehensive multisite strategy cannot be over emphasized. A clear plan for shared services is a key component of multisite multiplication. It is one of the X factors that can quickly propel ideas forward or cause huge organizational drag.

Here are some examples of typical shared services teams:


Human Resources

Creative Services



The jobs that these men and women perform are part of the sweet spot of a multisite model. The organization needs to be served by only one of each of the departments listed above. Interpretations of this concept vary across the world as multisite multiplication grows.

This is taking me back to my microeconomics class when talking about shared services. Check out the definition I chose from www.investopia.com for the concept called Economies of Scale:

(I tried to find the one with the most buzz-words. Feel free to ring a bell in your mind every time you read one)

Economies of scale is the cost advantage that arises with increased output of a product. Economies of scale arise because of the inverse relationship between the quantity produced and per-unit fixed costs; i.e. the greater the quantity of a good produced, the lower the per-unit fixed cost because these costs are shared over a larger number of goods. Economies of scale may also reduce variable costs per unit because of operational efficiencies and synergies.

Let me interpret for the Art majors: “Sharing is caring.” In other words, multisite is going to allow you to reach more people for less by not having to re-invent duplicate support teams at each location. The notion of economies of scale is just one facet of shared services, but in my experience, this is probably the most compelling argument as we design the way our teams work together.

Here are some tips to steer your shared services team in the right direction:

  1. Make it Official- Churches that cross the 4-5 site threshold have intense coordination issues to consider. The “first best thing” leadership can do is carve a pocket out of the org chart and group those departments and ministries together. It will automatically give those teams the freedom to begin to accomplish the second tip.
  2. Get Site Neutral Now- Todd Adkins (@ToddAdkins) drives this home for us when he talks about “what not to say” in a previous New Churches entry:

“Outside the sermon, (or anywhere for that matter-Smith) don’t refer to them as a ‘satellite campus’ or refer to your location as the ‘main campus.’”

Language like that from the platform and team meeting will only reinforce a segmented view of your organization. Some great terms that are out there when referring to the “main campus” are the “Sending Campus”, “Broadcast Campus”, or “Founding Campus.” Handle these terms with care.

  1. Celebrate Wins- This is an elementary principle for most seasoned church leaders. Go out of your way, however, to recognize star players whose contributions helped multiple locations cross the finish line with flying colors. It is also a huge morale booster for campus staff to encourage the teams providing shared services. Everybody wins.
  2. Meet with Purpose- Making meetings matter is a curious combination of art and science. Patrick Lencioni (@patricklencioni) nails it in his must read “Death By Meeting.” For our purposes here, remember to keep the material in the meeting pertinent to the multisite universe. Focusing in on specific problems that are occurring in one area might be discussed offline then pulled back up later. Keep the purpose very clear and think through how each agenda item affects the larger team.

Other tools:

Todd Adkins article HERE

Economies of Scale tutorial HERE

Lencioni book HERE

Star Wars Trailer (cause its on my mind) HERE






Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith (@stephenandstar) serves in Houston with his wife and four kids. He shepherds four teams within the church: Music, Multisite, Media, and Marketing. He spends the remainder of his time these days with his head in a book or dealing with an unruly yard. His passion is leading worship through song with his wife and leveraging their lives to see ministry multiplied in their home church and beyond.


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