By Jim Tomberlin – Outreach Magazine, December 2012
The multisite model, one church in multiple locations, has become an established strategy for outreach and for growing churches.
Leadership Network reports there are now over 5,000 expressions of multisite church across North America. Even though over one third of the 1,600 megachurches in North America have multiple campuses, the multisite movement is growing at a faster pace than megachurches.
The multisite strategy has proven to be an effective vehicle for outreach, volunteer mobilization, leadership development and regional impact.
During 2013 we’ll continue to see an increase in multisite church mergers, Internet online campuses, international expansion of campuses and more. In fact here are 14 different developments I am observing in multisite church world:
The new hot word is Movement. Leading churches in North America today aren’t just multisiting and church-planting, they are focusing on creating networks of reproducing churches that become Movements.
2. Name Changing.
Denominations, para-church organizations and churches are changing their names for all the same reasons—their name has cultural baggage and/or is geographically limiting. In the past churches identified themselves to attract their own kind and were too geographically specific for a multi-campus strategy. There is a lot of name-changing going on and more on the way!
3. The Merger Urge.
The multisite movement is driving the increase in mission-driven “we can be better together than separate” church mergers at a dramatic pace. This is the Next Big Thing on the church landscape with far greater implications beyond the multisite movement (I recently co-authored a book about healthy church mergers called Better Together, see www.outreachmagazine.com/merger for sample chapter).
4. Student Ministry Shift.
Sunday morning based student ministry is moving off of Sunday morning to an alternative evening. This allows students to attend church and/or serve together as a family which also unchains student’s families from the sending campus when going multisite.
5. Adult Sunday School Is Leaving the Building.
As churches multisite to other locations they are finding it too costly to offer on-going Adult Sunday school classrooms at new, rented or renovated facilities. Neighborhood home groups are becoming the complement to local multisite campuses.
6. African-American Churches Going Multisite.
In the early days of multisite African-American pastors said multisite won’t work in their churches. Today it’s happening and will continue to expand with the emerging generation of African-American pastors.
7. High Def/Video Stream.
High-definition has become the standard for video presentation. Satellite transmission is also increasing, but video-streaming over high-speed, broad-band internet is becoming the primary vehicle for delivering sermon content. This is also propelling the increase of online internet campuses.
8. Big Box Is Dead.
Even as the economy improves, the day of building large, super mega-campuses is over. Buying land and building facilities will occur, but on a smaller scale. New church construction will primarily focus on adding multiple venues in one location, upgrading existing church campuses, and retro-fitting existing commercial properties.
9. Multisite in UK.
Multisite church is taking root in England and blazing the trail for Europe to follow.
10. Networks & Movements.
Though the majority of multisite churches have only one or two additional campuses, more are pushing beyond 3 total campuses and creating networks of congregations over a larger geographical region. Many of these networks are becoming movements of reproducing churches through a hybridization of multisiting and church planting.
11. Church Planting Is Cool.
There has been an explosion in the passion and commitment of local churches to start new churches. Multisite churches are driving the new church planting networks. Church planters today are starting with a multisite mindset.
12. City Movements.
Multisite churches are playing a key role in creating city-wide collaborative church networks. They are partnering with non-profit organizations and marketplace leaders to better serve and impact their cities together. Every major city in America will have an organized, church-based, non-profit friendly, marketplace partnership network by the end of the decade.
13. Micropolitan Church.
Dynamic and vibrant multisite churches are popping up all across small town and rural America.
14. Senior Pastor Succession.
The big elephant in the church boardroom is coming out of the closet. We will see more senior pastors coming from campus pastors and through church mergers in the next decade.
What’s happening in your multisite world?