Multi-site student ministry rises and falls on our ability to reproduce and develop leaders. It is the engine that moves the system forward. It is through more and better leaders (of small groups and teams) that we are able to provide care, nurture and a missional challenge for every person in our church. If you are looking to move your ministry to two sites, three sites, or beyond, then your greatest focus should be on developing new leaders.
Yesterday, we wrapped up a series of staff retreats where we determine the initiatives for the next year. Right now it looks like we will plan to start at least two new locations as a church in the next 12 months. As a ministry we cannot wait for the launch to figure out the leadership component; instead, we must be preparing months (if not years) in advance for these new campus plants.
One of the most effective ways we are preparing leaders for these new launches is through apprenticeship. We consistently challenge our current leaders to teach their role to someone not yet on our student team. But just as we ask our volunteer leaders to train aprentices, we have recently begun to do so as a staff. Those who assume a staff apprentice role are volunteers who have proven themselves as high caliber leaders, desire to pursue vocational ministry, and love and believe in our mission and culture. In many ways our staff apprentices do function as unpaid staff as they work side-by-side with our student campus directors. They carry large leadership responsibility, they are involved in major minsitry decisions, they attend staff meetings (when their schedule allows), and they take part in retreats or conferences with our staff. Our staff apprentices know that they are the first ones to be considered for any new staff position we hire whether it be at an existing or a new location. Currently we have four fantastic staff apprentices. Jake, Tim, Ray, and Jason are an essential part of our team, strategy, and mission. I am very thankful for their sacrifice as they are fully committed to help students find their way back to God. I am very excited about their role in making our new campus launches a smashing success.