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September 28, 2015

Why Multisite Campuses Fail

By Daniel Im

When a multisite campus fails, there always needs to be an autopsy. After all, isn’t that just plain ‘ol good leadership? Learning from your mistakes?

There are several factors that contribute to a failed campus, like a lack of clarity, systems, funds, strategy, and prayer. However, we would be remiss to take the campus pastor out of the equation. After all, campuses rise and fall on leadership; particularly, the campus pastor’s leadership.

So before you apply to the seemingly endless amounts of campus pastor job postings, make sure that the role is a right fit for you. This is the third post in this series, so make sure you read the first two before finishing off this one:

1. 10 Signs You Shouldn’t Be a Campus Pastor
2. Campus Pastors NEED to Take Risks and Raise Funds

In my previous post, I explained the first five signs that were intended to help you discern whether or not you were cut out to be a campus pastor. Here’s the rest of the list.

5 Signs You Shouldn’t Be a Campus Pastor:

5. I need to be the one in charge

  • There are some that liken the campus pastor to being a team player, while the church planter or senior pastor is the team owner. I can understand how that distinction was made, but it’s not completely accurate because both church planters and senior pastors have a boss over them. I feel like the better analogy is to say that the campus pastor is one of the coaches, while the senior pastor or church planter is the main coach or manager of the team.
  • There are very few positions in this world where you have no boss, and you are the absolute authority. So instead of wishing you had ultimate control, why don’t you follow the footsteps of the centurion in Matthew 8 who knew what it meant to be a man of authority and a man under authority. In your role as a campus pastor, you will absolutely be in charge of many areas, but there will also be areas where you won’t be – learn how to deal with it. That’s life.

4. I hate politics

  • Politics = (Multiple Levels of Leadership + Dotted Line Reporting Structures + Solid Line Reporting Structures) x Sinful Nature.
  • Politics are inevitable in multisite churches, in fact, in most human run organizations (which is every organization), there will be politics – that’s just the nature of things. So instead of running away from them, it’s important that you learn how to deal with them.
  • “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.” (Matt 10:16 HCSB). What does it look like for you to be as shrewd as a serpent and as harmless as a dove?
  • The presence of politics doesn’t mean that you have to play the game of politics. In other words, be honest, full of integrity, faithful in your responsibilities, and make sure that you’re clearly communicating your wins, your losses, and expectations. Even if people are throwing you under the bus, don’t throw them under the bus! See Rom 12:17-21.
  • Lastly, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19 HCSB).

3. I’m not adaptable

  • The one thing that is constant in ministry is change. There are some ministry roles where adaptability isn’t a critical trait – like in curriculum development. However, if you’re the campus pastor, adaptability ought to be your best friend. As a campus pastor, you need to be a generalist, or a jack-of-all-trades, to juggle all of your responsibilities. On any given Sunday, you may have to step into the chief greeter role, the setup crew, or run the slides, depending on your volunteers. So be adaptable.

2. I feel sleazy when I market something

  • One of the main roles of a campus pastor is to be the ambassador of the church to that campus and its community – you are the chief marketer of your campus. This means that you need to learn how to sell the announcements to your campus, promote your campus to your neighborhood, and tell the world about the life change that God is accomplishing in your campus.
  • You also need to be a cheerleader to the executive team, central support, the global ministry heads, and everyone else at the other campuses. They need to know what’s going on at your campus, and you need to be able to unabashedly tell them.

1. I don’t want to preach

  • When someone is considering whether or not they want to become a church planter/senior pastor or a campus pastor, this is often THE KEY differentiator. Many will say, if the individual has a burden to preach, then they need to plant a church. There was a time when multisite was synonymous with video venue, but these days, this just isn’t the case anymore. According to the 2014 study that Leadership Network/Generis did together, they discovered that only 26% of churches use an only video teaching model. The rest either have live teaching by the campus pastor or a rotating teaching team, or they use a combination of in-person and video teaching.
  • In most churches, if you’re a campus pastor and you’re good at preaching, you will get plenty of opportunities to preach/teach in your church.
  • The other thing to note is that campus pastors are still pastors. Campus pastors aren’t highly paid emcees or volunteer coordinators – they are pastors. So when you look at the biblical qualifications of a pastor, “able to teach” is one of the qualifications (1 Tim 3:2; 5:17). Now “able to teach” doesn’t mean that you need to be the world’s greatest communicator, but it does mean that you need to know how to exegete the Scriptures and preach the Gospel and whole counsel of God.

I hope this collection of posts have been helpful as you discern whether or not God is calling you to be a campus pastor! If there’s any other way that I can help, or be of an assistance to you, please let me know!

campus pastor multisite signs


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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