I was just interviewed by a young man who was doing research on multi-site churches for his seminary degree. He was quite thorough and seemed to have covered the waterfront in his reading on the subject. What got my attention were two insights I was not aware of.
The first insight was that I was the second person to mention multi-sites and to predict that they would become the norm (Lyle Schaller was the first). On page 92 in my book Dancing with Dinosaurs (1993), I wrote that multiple-site churches were becoming common. In 2003, Dave Travis and I wrote Beyond the Box, in which we asserted that one of the five trends at the time was multi-site churches and we were the first to list a typology of multi-sites.
Well the future has come to pass. There are now thousands of multi-site churches and many are predicting that by 2020 there will be 30,000 such churches.
I was having dinner last night with a good friend, Greg Kappas of Grace Global Network, and he asked what the trends are that I’m seeing today. My response was quick: multi-sites and mergers. I went on to say that I prefer multi-sites over church plants because the success rate for mutli-sites compared to that of church plants is 5 to 1. There are a variety of reasons for this:
- The original site has good DNA to reproduce
- The original site has the resources: both money and staff
- The original site has good name/brand recognition in the area
The other trend I mentioned was mergers. There are two kinds of mergers.
- Those coming together due to economics
- Those coming together for missional purposes
In the world of mergers, those that come together for missional purposes may become a trend in the future.
Question: What can we learn from the growing influence of multi-site churches? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.