When Aspen Group partnered with Barna Group on the More Than Multisite research project, our teams went into this study thinking that leaders in growing churches want to know how to plant or “go multisite” and to learn best practices in terms of branding, facilities, organizational structures, and so on.
In the past, space constraints would have been the main driver for churches looking to launch new sites. According to our findings, facility constraints or accommodating growth barely register as primary reasons. Even among the secondary reasons for adopting their particular model, these drivers are mentioned by only one-quarter or less of any group.
Instead, our data shows that nearly every reproducing church is primarily motivated by a desire to live out a specific calling to reach a community (whether a neighborhood or a region) with the gospel.
Geographical outreach, mission, and calling are the three primary reasons cited by most churches as motivation to pursue various expansion strategies.
There are some subtle differences between the categories of church multisites and planters that align with their expansion strategies. For example, Multisite Strategists (43%) are significantly more focused than Planting Strategists (23%) on geographical reach. They are also most likely to say tailoring to different demographics is an important secondary goal (38%).
Expansion Creates New Growth
Thirty percent say opening a new church or campus created new or increased growth, and 20 percent say it accelerated their pace of growth. About two in five church leaders believe launching a new church or campus attracted more unchurched people than they might have seen at their sending church (39%).
This is an important dynamic that many church leaders cite as a key reason for adding a location, rather than just growing an existing one: Many believe a church that is new and local is far more likely to attract new unchurched visitors than one that has been around for years.
Beyond numerical growth, researchers also looked at the spiritual growth of existing members. Many churches using various growth strategies confirm that launching a new location fostered increased discipleship.
Brooke Hempell, senior vice president of research for Barna Group, will dive deeper into the findings of the More Than Multisite study at Aspen Group’s 2017 Alignment Conference. Register today to reserve spots for you and your ministry team!