Multi-Site Small-Group Ministries Don't Have to Be Chaotic

Multi-Site Small-Group Ministries Don't Have to Be Chaotic

How one multi-site pioneer structures small-group ministry for success

Multi-site churches aren't a fad. While rare just a few years ago, over 8,000 multi-site churches in the United States now draw 5 million people to weekend worship services. While multi-site churches vary in size and number of locations, it's clear that they're here to stay.

Community Christian Church (COMMUNITY) is a pioneer of multi-site ministry. We launched our second location in 1997, just 8 years after the church began. Today we have 13 campuses across Chicagoland with 5,500 total attenders.

I oversee the small-group ministry at our Yellow Box location in Naperville, Illinois. I also serve as the champion for adult ministries for all 13 of our locations. As Champion, I coach the small-group director at each campus, on-ramp new staff, and provide consulting for those outside of COMMUNITY.

I've been involved with small-group ministry for 15 years as a campus minister working with college students, a church planter, and in my current role as small-group director and champion at COMMUNITY. I'm involved in small-group ministry because I believe this is where we see the Christian faith come alive. Small groups are the front lines of what God is doing in and through his people. If you want to see the raw power of God, you need to be in a small group. There's nothing more powerful than a community of people who are committed to Jesus and his mission.

The kingdom impact I've seen through small-group ministry is incredible. It's the heartbeat of the local church. If buildings, budgets, and church staff were no longer available, the mission would still move forward in small groups.

At COMMUNITY, our mission is to help people find their way back to God, and our small groups support that by connecting people into life-giving community where they can interact with God and his people. Our groups are where we connect the unconnected, engage mission in our local community, and reproduce the life and mission of Jesus in others. When we do this, people grow in their passion for God and love for each other.

Multi-Site Small-Group Strategy

Because we're a large, multi-site church spread across the city and suburbs of Chicago, we have a unique structure for small groups that allows us to keep our groups in line with our mission. As champion, I don't "oversee" groups in the sense of having authority. Authority over groups exists at each campus: the campus pastor oversees the small-group director, the director oversees the small-group coaches, and the coaches oversee the small-group leaders. Each campus, while aligned with the whole church vision, is unique, and we allow the campus pastors to lead and care for the leaders.

As champion, I provide influence, alignment, and best practices for our groups by investing primarily in the campus small-group directors. This happens through several annual huddles for directors, as well as one-on-one coaching meetings. We also have a Facebook group that has really helped with communication.

This means that it's vitally important that our campuses have healthy leadership structures in place, so coaches play a critical role within our small-group ministry. Our coaches provide relational care for our leaders as well as help our leaders reach their full potential. Small groups led by coached leaders experience far more life than our un-coached groups. Coaches are able to train, encourage, and identify issues—even recognizing ineffective leaders.

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