The Center for Congregations is receiving more and more requests for resources related to multi-site churches.
The multi-site church is defined as one church meeting in multiple locations while sharing a common vision, staff, budget, and board.1 This Protestant phenomenon emerged, in part, from the challenges confronted by megachurches whose rapid growth led to larger and larger buildings and parking areas, often against the wishes of their neighborhoods and communities.However, the rapid growth of megachurches is not the only motivating factor in the increase of multi-site congregations.Other motivations include congregations who have maximized their current facilities but are either landlocked or choose not to expand in their present location.Instead, an appealing option is to create a second site where they can minister in a new, additional neighborhood.
Other factors that prompt multi-sites include:
- enabling congregants to worship and serve in their own neighborhood;
- providing outreach to ethnic communities;
- presenting options for churches to merge in creative ways and maintain ministry at both locations.
In the last three years, there has been explosive growth in the number of congregations nationwide who have gone multi-site.2 According to experts in the field, healthy congregations as small as 200 can launch a church satellite if they discern God's call to do so.
If your congregation is interested in exploring multi-sites the following are some recommended by the Center for Congregations.As always, the Center staff would be happy to talk with you and point you to additional resources in this and other topic areas.
McConnell, Scott.Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement's Next Generation. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009.
Based on in-depth research with 40 multi-site churches across the country, Multi-site Churches is targeted to congregations who are ready to explore the transition to multi-sites.In addition to the stories of churches interviewed, the book contains insights from 9 multi-site experts on topics such as the rationale for multi-sites, selecting the leader for a new campus, leadership development, location, communication and staff changes.Warren Bird, director of research at Leadership Network, writes a chapter on two specific types of multi-sites - ethnic or multicultural sites and absorbing an existing church.The book appendix includes the names and websites for the 40 congregations studied for the book.
Surratt, Geoff, Greg Ligon and Warren Bird.The Multi-Site Church Revolution. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2006.
These three authors are very involved in Leadership Network's pioneering work to explore the multi-site phenomenon in churches.The book is divided into four parts -the beginning of the multi-site movement, practical issues for congregations who want to explore becoming multi-site, factors that make multi-site churches successful, and expansion to 3 or more sites.Helpful chapter notes in the book point the reader to additional resources. The authors maintain a website at http://multisitechurchrevolution.com/
Surratt, Geoff, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird. A Multi-site Church Road Trip:Exploring the New Normal. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.
Three years after writing The Multi-site Church Revolution, Surratt, Ligon and Bird wrote a companion book, A Multi-Site Church Road Trip: Exploring the New Normal , to describe additional aspects of the rapidly expanding multi-site phenomenon.In this newest book they highlight 14 multi-site congregations as a way of explaining some aspect of multi-site work.For example, there are chapters on internet campuses, structure, leadership, merging campusses, and so forth. Each chapter gives a snapshot of the particular multi-site congregation followed by suggestions of how others could implement similar multi-site ministries.The authors note how the movement is rapidly expanding as well as the diversity of how churches are launching and using multi-sites.A decade ago most multi-site congregations were megachurches, but now congregations with as few as several hundred are found in suburban, urban and rural congregations from many denominations. The authors maintain a website at www.multisitechurchroadtrip.com.
Bird, Warren. "Should Your Church Go Multi-Site? A Self-diagnostic Tool." Free online article. Dallas, TX: Leadership Network, 2004.
This assessment tool helps congregations discern whether or not the multi-site approach is right for them.The questionnaire covers the following areas - clarity of call; motivation; receptive audience; leadership; know-how; relationship strengths; and finances. Scores are compared to other congregations around the country reflecting a range between"timing is very premature" to "you have a high likelihood of success."
Ligon, Greg. Frequently Asked Questions about Multi-Site Churches.Free online article. http://multisitechurch.typepad.com/mscr/files/multisite_faq.pdf.
This article is an excellent starting place for those who want a brief overview of the multi-site church phenomenon.It includes definitions, advantages and disadvantages, leadership development, technology and more. It has an extensive resource list, including podcasts.
Tomberlin, Jim. "Multi-Sightings: Is My Church Ready to Go Multi-Site?" In The XL Church Leader, March, 2008. http://www.3qc.org/images/XLChurchMultiSite.pdf.
Congregational leaders may find it useful to discuss this article in conjunction with the diagnostic tool above, Should Your Church Go Multi-Site? A Self-diagnostic Tool. This brief article provides 7 reasons NOT to go multi-site and then offers questions to help congregations discuss their level of readiness for multi-site ministry.
Organizations and Web Sites
New Thing Network
1635 Emerson Lane
Naperville, IL 60540
PH 630.388.5000; FAX 630.983.2524
The New Thing Network is a ministry of Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, a multi-site congregation of 9, soon to be 11 sites in the Chicago area. The focus of the New Thing Network is on helpfing churches reproduce through church planting and/or multisite congregations. The website contains an array of resources, some for purchase and some free, that help congregations establish multi-sites.These resources include "ministry role descriptions", a "new campus start up guide" and more. New Thing offers training and coaching for multi-site development.
2626 Cole Avenue, Suite 900
Dallas, Texas 75204
PH 800.765.5323 or 214.969.5950; FAX 214.969.9392
Leadership Network has been a leader in multi-site church research, resource development, training and coaching in the last decade. Their website offers free downloadable print resources as well as podcasts on multiple aspects of multisite development. They offer an e-newsletter entitled "Multi-site Church News."
Third Quarter Consulting
Jim Tomberlin, Consultant
37706 N. 102nd Place
Scottsdale, AZ 85262
Jim Tomberlin is founder and senior strategist of Third Quarter Consulting. He is a multi-site church pioneer who serves as a multi-site church consultant and writes Multi-Sightings, an enewsletter, addressing the topic of multi-site congregations.
1Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon and Warren Bird. The Multi-Site Church Revolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2006). 18.
2Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon and Warren Bird. A Multi-Site Church Road Trip (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2009). 10.