As an observer of the multisite movement over the past 20 years, I get excited to see that the movement is growing in rural areas.
“The idea of multisite churches began as a bandaid solution for megachurches that found themselves out of room,” says Jim Tomberlin, founder of MultiSite Solutions.
Now nearly three decades old, the multisite church model has proven it’s not a passing fad. But it’s changed a lot in that time, and its next phase will look nothing like its first.
Today’s multisite church includes hybrid variations of the traditional one-church-in-multiple-locations model, often incorporating planting as part of a church’s multiplication strategy. These new approaches call for new skill sets and structures to support rapid growth and change.
But where do you go for answers to the hard questions that surface in the midst of church expansion? And how do you think strategically about multisite and multiplying churches when so many new models are emerging?
Today’s multisite church includes hybrid variations of the traditional one-church-in-multiple-locations model. Often, church planting is incorporated as part of a comprehensive growth strategy. These new approaches call for new skill sets and structures to support rapid growth and change.
Faith leaders who contemplate moving their church beyond a single campus face a variety of daunting questions: What kind of building or location will best serve the community we’d like to reach? How will resources be shared or distributed? Who should be on the launch team? Can the church maintain unity and stay on message across congregations? Which model makes the most sense for our context—and will it work?
At Aspen’s 2016 Alignment Conference, more than 200 senior pastors, executive pastors, business administrators, and ministry leaders gathered to explore answers to these hard questions about church expansion.
With five main stage presenters and 11 breakout sessions, attendees had an opportunity to think strategically about multisite and church planting so that real reproduction—and even multiplication—can occur.
Teams are at the heart of building churches. In The Equipping Church Guidebook, Sue Mallory defines a team as “a group of people with complimentary and diverse gifts, skills, and strengths that are committed to a common purpose, to each other, to achieving the team’s mission, and to holding each other accountable.” The New Testament is clear that the church is built on teamwork. In 1 Corinthians 12, we read that there is “one body but many parts.”
Here are six key tasks that campus pastors must do in order to build, nurture, and lead their teams.
If you want to ignite a culture of strategic expansion, you have to build for one – literally. But buildings require time and capital. For some churches, especially those that are focused on reaching more people for Christ as quickly as possible, the thought of building new campuses or investing in permanent space seems at odds with a nimble, frugal approach to launching multiple congregations.
Aspen Group, as founders of the Cornerstone Knowledge Network (CKN), commissioned Barna Group to research the impact of today’s various methods and models for church expansion. We wondered what role facilities play in reaching more people with the Gospel and fueling a church’s growth strategy. Does a building inhibit a church’s ability to expand, or does it actually help create steady, sustainable growth?
Four key themes emerged in our More Than Multisite research in regards to designing and planning for multiple church facilities:
Aspen Group’s upcoming Alignment Conference has put the word alignment on my mind a lot lately. As ministries grow—and especially as churches pursue a multisite strategy—the opportunities for misalignment are many and pose threats to ministry success. Misalignment in mission, vision, leadership, and facilities can affect your ability to advance your church’s purpose and grow God’s kingdom.
But there’s another critical area–operations–that is often overlooked and yet significantly affects a church’s ability to provide effective ministry, advance its mission, and provide transparency to donors.
The multisite movement has progressed through some very identifiable seasons. When I started down the multisite path as a senior pastor in Colorado in the 1990s, multisite was a radical idea. In the first decade of the 21st century, multisite then became a cool idea among large, cutting-edge churches. Now, in the second decade of this century, multisite has become the mainstream idea among healthy, growing churches of all sizes.
What began as a radical idea has spawned a movement of more than five million people attending one of the 5,000-plus multisite churches across North America. More importantly, the multisite movement is not slowing down. This movement is comprised of non-denominational and denominational churches that gather in urban, suburban and rural communities.
Is there any question that Jesus started a movement?
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
If you’re dreaming about starting movements to achieve the Jesus Mission, you will need to plant sites and churches that can then plant more sites and churches. This is multiplication.
Is worship a significant priority in the life of your church? What about the children’s ministry? Or the student ministry? Adult discipleship or small groups? I’m sure you said yes to all (or most) of these.
What does it take to run each of these ministries well? It takes a centralized leader and team who are focused and dedicated to pray and think about their specific ministry area—its purpose, programming and more—with great intention. The leader and team drive their specific ministry area for the benefit of your congregation and community.
For anything to grow, it must change. With back-to-school season upon us, all we have to do is scroll through the sentimental posts on Facebook to see the tension of growth and change. With each new year, parents equally mourn and celebrate the change and growth of their “babies.”
Leading through change is one of the most important responsibilities you hold as a leader. Change is a natural part of growth, and as your churches grow—especially as you consider multisite or being a multiplying church—you will need to lead yourself, your team, and your congregation through change.
In leading through various seasons of change at your church, here are five steps I encourage you to consider whatever change you’re facing.