Last week I was in Eugene Oregon at Wayne Cordeiro’s farm working with Leadership Network.  There were two other mentors like Wayne and myself along with around 20 25-35 year old pastors.  All of them were outside of the mainstream, were leading growing churches, and were multi site or were getting ready to go multi site. The conversation was stimulating and challenging.  It was also refreshing to hear stories of growth and reproduction of leaders for the multiple locations.

The event was just another road sign along the way showing how much things have been changing over the past thirty years.  We have gone from mainline to sideline; from print to digital; from local to glocal; from programs to leadership paths. All in all there isn’t much left of the old world except in the old world churches of mainline protestantism.

That begs a question – why is mainline dying and a new breed of thriving churches emerging? There were more new churches planted last year than were closed. There is such a disconnect between mainline and sideline.  All mainline wants to discuss is how to revitalize their churches whereas all sideline churches want to talk about is how to reach the next neighbor for Christ.

I’m off the end of this week to discuss this issue with a Presbyterian church in Toledo Ohio. I’m asked to talk about where the mainline church is going and what the future will look like.  It’s not a pretty picture for those who decide to live in the old world instead of doing like Paul and take the message into a strange new world. The message will never change but the delivery system will. I think multi-site is a trend not a fad because that is the way the church grew the first two centuries.

Bill Easum