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 Future Is Coming True

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.

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