Ben Welchman, Site Leader on being a multi-site church
What surprised you most about going multi-site?
How well the launch went! And people were so gracious in accepting a younger leader.
What challenged you most?
Taking on the leadership of a group of people with whom I had no previous relationship or history! Not knowing their stories, the quality of their character or their gifts, while still needing to run a Sunday meeting requiring children's workers, youth leaders, welcome team, worship team etc - and also aiming for diversity in every team.
What is it like dealing with a merger situation?
The church at Downham was already part of Newfrontiers - there was a huge amount of common ground in shared values and common history within Newfrontiers and strong relational links between leaders over some years. All this helped!
Changing the philosophy of ministry?
This was the biggest area of difference between Downham Way Family Church, as was, and King's Church. While the vision and values of two churches may be identical, the way these are worked out can be very different. Steve (Tibbert) has talked about this a lot which was really helpful.
Changing the culture is a slow process that requires patience, taking people on a journey as they may have only known one way of 'doing church'. People need to understand why we are doing things differently, grasp how they can make a contribution and, most importantly, see that the new way works. These are all important in building trust in leadership and preparing everyone for the next step… and the next!
It also requires resolve to avoid the temptation to give in and settle for old ways of working just to keep people happy. Occasionally we have to tread on some toes - some people like the way they used to do things! This increases the emotional demands on you with every task.
I’m constantly thinking about the pace of change - too much too quickly can mean people are more likely to disengage, lose a sense of ownership and feel that the new approach is being imposed on them. Move too slowly and we can miss the opportunity and the fresh momentum provided by launching as a site.
Benefits of resources from the ‘mother-ship’?
As a site leader in a multi-site church you simply don't have the same kind of pressures as a church planter or a one-site church leader. If I was leading a church of 160 people rather than a site of 160, I would have to grapple with raising money for buildings and handling budgets, as well as employment and legal issues. Whilst I have picked up more administration and facilities issues than I expected, there is someone else on the King's team who has overall responsibility for the premises at Downham. Consequently I can focus on running Sundays, developing leaders and teams and strengthening ministries like midweek groups. That’s a real privilege!