Four Models: Trait Pairings Within Effective Multisite Church Campus Leaders
For six months, CDF Capital worked with seven influential multisite churches and more than two dozen leaders to understand the most common traits that effective multisite campus leaders share. The study revealed four standard profiles. While these four profiles differ based on the size and style of the church, one profile worked interchangeably across all campuses. This was especially true when the campus’s vision and strategy were well defined and required basic execution. These models, referred to as “Ministry Fit,” can be used by any church to better understand and develop effective multisite leaders looks like for their church.
As more churches look to multisite as their primary growth strategy, there has been no significant research or work done to identify, train, or resource a church to fill their Campus Pastor leadership pipeline. While multiple groups focus on helping locate staff for churches, they rely only on the church itself to identify and recognize the specific traits desired of a multisite leader. This reality has created an environment with unnecessary risk for churches and leaders as they navigate this new era of church growth.
While the consensus in popular culture is that religion in the U.S. is on the decline, Landon Schnabel, Indiana University Bloomington, and Sean Bock, Harvard University, published a report in 2017 that argues that intense religious affiliation has remained constant at worse, and marginal religious affiliation has somewhat declined. This, combined with research by LifeWay, published in March of 2019 that shows that 39% of churches report growth year after year, while only 28% of churches report a decline, shows that while there is some decline in Christian affiliation, the decline in the church is mitigated, considerably, by growth.
A deeper look into the data shows that the LifeWay research also states that only 3% of churches added multisite campuses in 2018, and the Hartford Institute for Religion Research estimated that there were 300,000 protestant congregations in the U.S. in 2010. While those statistics may not be remarkable, taken with the research provided in a 2017 article in Christianity Today stating that the rate of closure of protestant churches has declined dramatically since 2012iv, the implications are noteworthy. The research shows that with the slowing pace of closures and 3% of churches opening multisite campuses in 2018, there are at least 9,000 new multisite campuses in 2018 (300,000 x 3%) alone.
Regardless of the narrative of the declining church, 9,000 new campuses opening every year is, in and of itself, a problem worth considering.
Starting in January 2019, CDF Leadership Capital partnered with seven of the largest and most successful multisite ministries across the U.S. using a combination of industry-recognized assessments, in-person interviews, and general research.
Throughout the research period, we experienced a fluctuation in research results. This fluctuation underscored the reality that a myriad of factors plays a part in the success of a multisite leader. The most common factors are church size, multisite type (such as video venue, teaching venue, etc.), maturity of the multisite model, and base expectation for the role of the leader.
As the research cycle ran its course, four distinct profiles emerged. Each of the research churches fits entirely within a specific profile. As we vetted the results, the profiles became more codified, and we provided concise descriptors for them. We believe that as more churches go through the process of building their ideal profiles – what we call Ministry Fit Model – these models will become more and more valuable to church leaders.
Although there are four dominant models, one of the most remarkable breakthroughs was our clarity in seeing what Campus Pastors navigate in terms of stress. While the outward traits of the models differ significantly, every leader involved in the research displayed stressors when working in areas outside their natural strengths. This finding makes it paramount for church leaders to understand and build great teams, teams that support a Campus Pastors well and allow them to shine in their natural personality gifting. One profile did present itself in our research to be successful when the church’s strategic vision, mission, and structure are well-defined. This model was great at organizing people and tasks and executing duties while maintaining solid relationships.
Four Ministry Fit Models
- The Enthusiast
- The Shepherd
- The Refiner
- The Motivator
The Enthusiast – This leader is focused on the team, being the people’s champion, and engages with great energy and enthusiasm to carry out the directives from senior leadership. They are good communicators, focusing their energy on leading their staff, providing entertaining stories, and engaging the congregation. They do best when surrounded by individuals with traits that have a high focus on detailed and execution-focused tasks. They will need tight alignment with senior leadership and strategy to ensure timely follow-through.
The Shepherd – This leader is focused on the spiritual growth of those under their care. They thrive when they grow, develop, and connect with members of their campus. They enjoy being able to teach on a semi-regular basis and thrive when they spend time shepherding, praying, counseling, and teaching. They do best when surrounded by individuals with more strategic traits. They will need to be well-aligned with the vision of senior leadership to best carry out and ensure the church mission shines through their campus.
The Refiner – This leader is focused on their church’s mission and has a unique ability to build church programs and teams. While they enjoy teaching, they are equally comfortable working with people and groups to serve the needs of their community. They will carry out the projects and initiatives of the church, managing the people, tasks, and timelines. They are most effective when well-aligned with senior leadership, ensuring the church vision and values resonate on their campus.
The Motivator – This leader focuses on preaching and leading their campus to the best of their abilities. They have a high desire to preach and find it challenging to be effective if that option is unavailable. They do best when they can build their own team and surround themselves with individuals who complement them well. They will need to buy into the strategic vision of the church to champion, support, and complement it with their leadership and teaching styles to provide cohesive growth for the campus site.