The multisite experiment began as a pre-recession band-aid strategy for megachurches that were out of room or restricted by zoning laws. It became the primary way healthy churches accommodated their growth during the recession. Even as the economy improves the multisite model will continue to be the prevailing choice for accommodating and accelerating growth in healthy churches.
As anticipated, we saw in 2013 an increase in multisite mergers, church name-changing, internet "on-line" campuses and international multisite expansion. These trends will continue. Here's some additional developments emerging among 2014 multisite trends:
Megachurches becoming giga-churches. Megachurches are getting bigger because they are no longer limited to one location. LifeChurch.tv based in Oklahoma City is the largest church in America with over 50,000 in attendance across 18 campuses in several states. The most vulnerable churches in America are the large mono-site, super-mega campuses with aging senior pastors.
Owning multisite locations. Up to now the overwhelming majority of multisite campuses are in rented facilities. Because the multisite model has now moved beyond an experiment to a proven strategy more churches are beginning to buy land to construct new buildings or purchase existing buildings for permanent multisite campuses.
New rules for church construction. In an increasingly hostile culture towards new church construction the rules have changed for constructing new church buildings. The new church buildings going up today are smaller, multi-purpose, multi-venue, local community-centric and environmentally-friendly buildings. You can read more about this revolution in church construction on my blog post New Rules for Sacred Space.
The majority of multisite churches are not maximizing the model. Most of the 5,000+multisite churches are stuck at two or three campuses because they don't know how or aren't willing to make the organizational changes necessary to fully benefit from the multisite model. The majority of multisite churches are still functioning like a mono-site church with campuses instead of a church of campuses. If this describes your church this Multisite Diagnostic Test can help determine how well your church is managing this paradigm shift.
Multisite churches with four or more campuses. Even though the majority of multisite churches are not fully maximizing the multisite model as previously mentioned, more are growing beyond three campuses. The fourth campus is the "game-changer" that typically forces churches to change their structure which positions them to take full advantage of the model and grow even beyond four campuses. These churches of four or more campuses typically have a full-time multisite director on the lead team, a dedicated campus pastor at the original campus and a well-defined central support system.
Confusing multisiting with church planting. Though the outcome of church planting and multisiting is the samenew congregations, church plants and multisite campuses are not the same thing. There are geographic, gifting and governance differences. A lack of clarity and understanding around these differences causes a lot of unnecessary problems in multisite churches. Some of the most effective multisite churches have also created successful church planting networks because they understand the differences and designed different strategies for them.
Se habla español (Spanish spoken here). Multisite megachurches are leading the way in producing local congregations that are more economically, racially and ethnically diverse especially within Hispanic communities. These are not the traditional ethnic churches "using our church building" but diverse congregations under the banner of one church in multiple congregations with racially diverse campus pastors on the church staff.
Multisite Teaching Teams. Whether they utilize video sermons or not, there is a growing desire to develop preaching-teaching teams to strengthen the teaching bench of the church, develop teachers and potential successors while increasing the overall depth and breadth of biblical instruction.
Written by Jim Tomberlin, Founder & Senior Strategist, MultiSite Solutions, www.multisitesolutions.com