Why 20 Large Churches went, didn’t go, and still might go Multisite

In light of a recent game-changing announcement made at Sun Valley Community Church I thought I’d bring something back from the archives that deals head on with multi-site.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to sit in a room full of over 20 Executive Pastors. These incredible men serve at various large churches across America ranging in size from 750 to over 6,000 in weekend attendance. Of the many issues and subjects that were tackled through out the week, one that we ended up drilling down on for considerable time was the Multisite Church movement that’s grown legs over the last decade. What made the conversation so complex and layered was that the room was full of men who represented churches that took the multisite plunge years ago and had multiple campuses in operation, while some had just launched their second campus, others had made the decision to go multisite but had not pulled the trigger as of yet, while still others had not seriously considered the option. It was that dynamic that made for some incredible push towards sharpening, affirmation, and learning. So the list below is for you. It’s comprised of the top 6 reasons (in no particular order) that these churches decided to go Multisite. My hope is that this will give you a peek into a great conversation and allow you the opportunity to go to school on others.

1. Drive time

The time people were commuting to the churches represented in the room was 5-45 minutes, with 15 minutes by far being the average drive time tolerance. Some churches recognized that many of their people were driving too far to their church to truly be relationally connected as a community. In a response they launched a multisite in a community with a high density of people commuting to the original campus.

2. A community in need

Some were motivated by identifying surrounding communities that didn’t have a growing church, or as they put it, “they were without a church like us.” These churches felt a deep burden to affect change in adjacent communities. After all proximity does have something to do with responsibility, doesn’t it?

3. Low overhead

In a day when the economy strikes fear in the heart of most, there remains little margin for mistake when using the resources the Lord has entrusted to us. The multisite movement has allowed many to add people without adding campuses. This has provided churches the opportunity to remain agile, nimble, and flexible; investing their resources into people and ministry instead of buildings and large campuses.

4. Opportunity

This is becoming a familiar story, a story that I believe will become more repeated in the years to come. Two of the churches at the table decided to move towards a multisite structure due to unique, but similar opportunities. Both had dwindling churches in their community approach them about being assimilated into the larger more healthy church. One of these situations turned into a merger, the other an acquisition. Two very different courses of action that we’ll talk about and unpack some other time together.

5. Leveraging the gifts of the Lead Pastor

A couple of the Lead Pastors represented by the room were uniquely gifted communicators, had tremendous name recognition and public loyalty, as well as a unique place in the national and even global Church. Instead of continuing to spend resources to build a larger room or wear out the Lead Pastor by having him speak 6 or more times a weekend; a multisite strategy allowed these churches to uniquely steward the gifts of their Lead Pastor.

6. Not growing was not an option

Some of the churches in the room were landlocked. They were doing multiple weekend worship services, parking and turning the campus between services was an issue, and they had hit a lid on their current campus. They simply could not effectively put more people on their current campus; especially considering the rule of optimum seats at optimum hours.

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