Kem Meyer is the communications guru at Granger Community Church she lives to create less clutter less noise. As a kids pastor I could use a little more of both those things.
I remember a few years ago when I started reading blogs , long before I started mine, Kem’s blog was a shining beacon of reason and I found myself saying Yes, Yes and Yes to so many of her posts. I think we to often make the Gospel more complicated than Jesus intended it to be.
I had the privilege to ask Kem a question as part of her promotion of her new book appropriately titled “Less Clutter Less Noise”. The question I asked had to do with Multi-sites which as a children’s pastor find very hard to keep processes and communication simple, maybe it’s just me but I don’t think so.
So without any further delay here is my question and her response.
How do we effectively communicate (vision, values, policies) with-in the multi-site model without adding layers of complexity. Basically keeping people on the same page without tons of meetings. Multi-site creates multi-meetings and multi-exceptions to every rule.
When you figure out the answer to this question, let me know. Seriously! With multi-site strategy, the complexity factor increases greatly. It’s a constant process trying to identify the non-negotiables for everyone and the things unique to each campus. We’re not a full year into our own first multi-site launch. Each day it seems we discover a new “exception” to the rule and take it as it comes. There’s no way to avoid the multiple meetings. As nice as it would be to launch and hit the autopilot button, it is unrealistic. However there are a few principles we adhere to that help along the way.
• We still have one web site, enews and bulletin for the whole church. Although, each campus may have their own unique communication points on a blog or announcement reel, we use the same communication vehicles for 20% of the content that affects 80% of the audience. And, when people want to drill down for more, there’s no run around to multiple sites and the information is easy to find—regardless of the campus.
• We look for ways to produce it once and use it twice. Anyplace we can eliminate redundancies we try to do it to reduce time, costs and errors.
• Simplify the problem. Rather than react to everything as a complex execution, we consistently boil every project down to its core: “what do we want to happen as a result of this,” and work backwards from there.
• We still do everything in team. We all gather as one church, once a week for the all staff meeting.
• We adhere to the same communication values, looking for ways to bundle and simplify everything we do. Even though the next steps and ministry teams for each campus are very individualized and unique, we still look for ways to tie the next steps to the same major themes (e.g., the weekend series, volunteers, groups, etc.)
Essentially, the premise behind it all is to empower departments and campuses using “freedom within a framework”. The objective isn’t to boss everybody around with a list of rules, but to instead provide guidelines to work within. It’s more about harnessing the power of a message and enhancing the experience, not about the dos and don’ts. There’s a balance between centralizing efforts that maximize excellence and creating a bottleneck for the things that don’t matter. We’re constantly evaluating that contrast. This may not be the clean-cut answer you were hoping for, but it’s the closest thing we’ve got to clean-cut for now!
4 comments On Q&A With Kem Meyer
Sam, This is a great question. It’s been my experience that there are two communication realms you’re working within when it comes to the multi-site model.
1= communication to your church
2= communication to the staff
#2 becomes a bigger challenge the more locations that enter the equation. The more layers a vision plan/strategy filters through, the more vision momentum is lost. It’s the classic vision leak that we are all familiar with but when we are dependent upon a campus staff to execute the vision with passion & conviction if they are not fully ‘bought in’ then the event may be a bust from the start.
Just another thing to grow through as a multi-site church.
Interesting question Sam. It’s hard enough to manage communication effectively at one church, I’m definitely not ready to think about multi-site 🙂 Being intentional about wanting to stay in close communication is probably the most important factor. As far as making it happen, technology may be able to help with things like Facebook, Twitter, tokbox (for video-conferencing) as well as the shared web site.
I think #1 is the same everywhere no matter how big your church is and Kem’s thoughts will apply no matter what. #2 is the hard part when there are more and more sites, especially when they are too far away to meet in person.
For example, we had a big org chart change announced by conf call yesterday and found out today one whole campus missed it because of technical problems. Making sure the communication is clear is sometimes only part of the challenge!
Also, drawing the line in each case of who needs to know and who wants to know is really hard too. I am often on the list of people who want to know, but not considered someone who needs to know. But because of my strengths (one being input), I am vastly better at my job the more information I have, even it it seems superfluous to someone else. Some kind of information/vision flow is important to provide for those types of people too I think (also true of church members, some what nore info than others).
Thanks guys for your input.
I can’t speak for all multi-site churches but for us this is huge. I appreciate all that you guys add to the conversation.