It’s the last week of a six part series called Taking the Guesswork Out Of Guest Services. If you’re a pastor or ministry leader of a church with no guest services team, a lagging guest services team, a firing-on-all-cylinders team, or anywhere in between, we’re going to talk about the factors that make your team great. If detail-oriented nerd talk makes you sick, watch this video of a guy cutting up a watermelon instead.

It takes a foundation to raise a village.

Well alrighty: in reality, it takes several foundations to raise a village. But work with me here.

If you’ve followed this series from the beginning, you know we’ve talked about culture, vision, leadership, and staffing. But that’s just the beginning. You can get all of those elements in place within the first few months of your team’s existence. But then what? What do you do to maintain momentum? How do you grow the ministry while protecting the DNA? How can you allow other people to speak into the vision of the team?

This is an area where I struggle greatly. As our church has gone multi-site over the last several years, it’s been harder and harder for me to keep my arms around the First Impressions ministry of the Summit (spoiler alert: I shouldn’t be trying to do that anyway). But I know that I have a responsibility to keep the core vision intact at all of our campuses. We shouldn’t have a thriving FI team at one location and a lackluster, “who-gives-a-rip” team at another. But regardless of whether your church has one site or many, how do you protect the vision while the organization is ever progressing forward?

  1. Circle the wagons. You have to be crystal clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing. That means that key leaders (in our case, FI directors at each campus) have to be on the same page when it comes to ferociously protecting the vision. I haven’t always led well in this area, and 2013 has seen a renewed focus on bringing the voices of the Connections Team around the same table, regardless of our campus affiliation. We’re working diligently to make sure we’re in complete alignment as we continue to grow.
  2. Watch for sacred cows. What is fresh, new, and innovative today will be stale, old, and outdated tomorrow. We have to make sure that the programming of our ministry can stand the test of time. That’s why there’s a difference between protecting the vision and propping up the vision. Your leadership team needs to have the integrity to know when it’s time to tweak focus, overhaul initiatives, or wipe the slate clean and start over.
  3. Remember your mama. Chances are you don’t lead a First Impressions Team that exists on its own. We all have a “mothership” – the church body that we’re serving each weekend. I’ve seen far too many ministries of churches that go rogue and no longer support the vision and mission of the church that birthed them. Don’t be that guy. Make sure you not only remain in alignment with your First Impressions leadership, but with your staff and elder leadership as well.
  4. Build systems that scale. I had a conversation recently with one of the wisest people on our staff. She said ” Remember that what works now with seven campuses will never work for twenty.” Will we eventually have 20 campuses? I have no idea. What I do know is that our current tendency to be five degrees off at each campus works for us…at least for now. It won’t work then. That’s why we’re attempting to go back to the drawing board to draft systems, plans, and strategies that will work at one or 100 locations (I got tired just typing that).
  5. Give ideas a greenhouse to grow. This is not the time for you to rule with an iron fist. It’s not a chance for you to assert absolute authority over your teams, whether you’re a single site or multi site church. While you do need to have a solid foundation and scalable systems, there needs to be a culture of idea generation that permeates the organization. For us, we allow campuses to “test market” certain ideas and then scale those that work to the entire ministry across the board. I learned a long time ago that I’m not the best idea generator around our Connections Team table. That’s why I’m honored to have men and women who are blazing those trails and letting me learn from them.

As I said, this is an area where I’m still weak, but hopefully growing. I want to hear from you. What are the ways that you protect and progress? Comment below, and thanks for playing along in the Guesswork series!

Check out the entire series: