The following question and answer dialogue is between Bob Wood, a Campus Pastor with Central Christian Church and Greg Rupley, one of our students in the XPastor Online Course. They will discuss Bob’s experiences in helping to lead a multisite campus in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Greg: How long have you been a Campus Pastor and how’s attendance going?
Bob: In December of 2012, I took over as Campus Pastor at an existing three-year-old campus that was Central’s first merger. We’re running 350-400 people on a weekly basis.
Greg: What’s your personal motivation for leaving one of the most effective Celebrate Recovery ministries in the country to take a Campus Pastor position at a relatively small campus?
Bob: The biggest reason was that God was stirring my heart to take on something new—a new challenge. I’m a designer/developer—I’m not as excited to simply maintain ministry. So the idea of developing something new and outside of my main area of expertise was both scary and exciting.
Greg: What’s your reporting relationship like?
Bob: Currently I report directly to our Senior Leader, Mike Bodine. Communication is excellent with Mike; it’s based on need, and he has extended a lot of trust. He allows me to lead but I check in with him on three main areas: strategic shifts, capital expenses, and hiring new staff.
Greg: Does Central have a goal of “X campuses in Y years?”
Bob: 40 total campuses in 5 years. Our leadership at Central has a strong gift of faith! I realize that to the average person this goal probably seems unrealistic. However, just in the last two years we’ve added 7 campuses, bringing our total to 12. To me, it’s exciting to be part of a movement—exciting that God would use us to expand His kingdom in some of the least likely places in the world! Our motivation is to extend our reach in connecting the unconnected to Christ. At the same time, it reduces our operational costs by not building mega-campuses.
Greg: Dr. John Jackson once said, “We cannot export what we cannot explain.” What does that mean to you when it comes to multisite at Central?
Bob: In order for us to develop and grow our multisite strategy, we have to be able to accurately export the DNA of Central—the message of radical grace. The challenge is adding new campus pastors who have experienced this in a church culture. It comes back to the Campus Pastor’s understanding and connection with the core values of Central.
Greg: How do you know if you are succeeding or failing as a Campus Pastor?
Bob: That’s a good question! I know we’re succeeding if we’re growing as a church, both numerically and in the “movement” of our people through our strategy. Anything healthy will grow. If we start to decline, it will be an indicator that there are problems. It’s my job, as the Campus Pastor, to identify the problems and restructure to promote growth.
Greg: How do the finances work? Is your campus entirely self-funding?
Bob: Each Central campus is on a tier system. Level 1 receives income from Central global; they are subsidized. The idea is that they will steadily move to Level 2, which means they have become self-supporting. At Level 3, the campus begins to contribute back to “global” to start new campuses. At my campus, we were at Level 2 last year and aspire to be at Level 3 soon.
Greg: Your opinion: Dollar for dollar, do you feel multisite is an effective way to reach people for Christ?
Bob: Absolutely! We are able to develop an effective campus for far less than it would cost to plant individual churches. It also gives us the ability to share what we call “global services,” such as accounting, IT, etc.
Greg: How does your campus handle sermon delivery?
Bob: We utilize HD video messaging from our Senior Pastor, Jud Wilhite, in conjunction with live messages from the Campus Pastors. Our Campus Pastors average preaching 12-15 times a year—that varies from campus to campus.
Greg: Jim Tomberlin, in his book, 125 Tips for Multisite Churches, states, “The biggest challenge for a campus pastor is to stay connected to the vision and heart of the Senior Pastor.” How do you and the other Central Campus Pastors do that?
Bob: We have regular meetings with our Senior Pastor to discuss upcoming preaching calendars and message series, planning and strategizing next steps. This includes an annual retreat at the launch of the ministry season.
Greg: Generally speaking, what are the traits of an excellent Campus Pastor?
Bob: I think a designer/developer type is ideal. It’s someone who can take the essential ingredients of Central’s mission and vision and then incorporate those into the leadership of their campus. They’ll have the spiritual gifts of leadership, pastoring, and administration.
Greg: What’s in the works in the near future for Central’s Northeast Campus?
Bob: We’ll be focusing more on community outreach and continuing the development of our small groups ministries. We’re also hoping to expand our worship center to accommodate expected growth in the next few years.
Greg: What’s your opinion about the future of multisite in American churches: “Fad” or “Here to stay?”
Bob: I believe that multisite is here to stay but our methods will always be changing. Just like there’s no one “perfect” church model, there’s not going to be one “perfect” multisite model. Bottom line: The number of churches that close their doors every year should have Christian evangelicals alarmed. I see a day when multisite churches will fill this gap and be the future of reaching communities of every size. I believe where we are today is just the beginning of the upward movement in multisite. Our greatest days are ahead of us.