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9 Top Multisite Church Trends for 2014

The multisite model continues to be a proven and cost-effective vehicle for churches in reaching, serving and engaging more people locally and regionally. Leadership Network reports there are over 5,000 expressions of multisite church across North America with nearly 7 million people attending a multisite church nationwide.

As Ed Stetzer concluded in the 2013 annual Outreach Magazine issue of the 100 Largest and Fastest Growing Churches in America “the common denominators of multisite, small groups and community engagement surface throughout 2013.”

The multisite experiment began as a pre-recession band-aid strategy for megachurches that were out of room or restricted by zoning laws. It became the primary way healthy churches accommodated their growth during the recession. Even as the economy improves the multisite model will continue to be the prevailing choice for accommodating and accelerating growth in healthy churches.

As anticipated, we saw in 2013 an increase in multisite mergers, church name-changing, internet “on-line” campuses and international multisite expansion. These trends will continue. Here’s some additional developments emerging among 2014 multisite trends:

1. Megachurches becoming giga-churches

Megachurches are getting bigger because they are no longer limited to one location. LifeChurch.tv based in Oklahoma City is the largest church in America with over 50,000 in attendance across 18 campuses in several states. The most vulnerable churches in America are the large mono-site, super-mega campuses with aging senior pastors.

2. Owning multisite locations

Up to now the overwhelming majority of multisite campuses are in rented facilities. Because the multisite model has now moved beyond an experiment to a proven strategy more churches are beginning to buy land to construct new buildings or purchase existing buildings for permanent multisite campuses.

3. New rules for church construction

In an increasingly hostile culture towards new church construction the rules have changed for constructing new church buildings. The new church buildings going up today are smaller, multi-purpose, multi-venue, local community-centric and environmentally-friendly buildings. You can read more about this revolution in church construction on my blog post New Rules for Sacred Space.

4. The majority of multisite churches are not maximizing the model

Most of the 5,000+multisite churches are stuck at two or three campuses because they don’t know how or aren’t willing to make the organizational changes necessary to fully benefit from the multisite model. The majority of multisite churches are still functioning like a mono-site church with campuses instead of a church of campuses. If this describes your church take the Multisite Diagnostic Test to determine how well your church is managing this paradigm shift.

5. Multisite churches with four or more campuses

Even though the majority of multisite churches are not fully maximizing the multisite model as previously mentioned, more are growing beyond three campuses. The fourth campus is the “game-changer” that typically forces churches to change their structure which positions them to take full advantage of the model and grow even beyond four campuses. These churches of four or more campuses typically have a full-time multisite director on the lead team, a dedicated campus pastor at the original campus and a well-defined central support system.

6. Confusing multisiting with church planting

Though the outcome of church planting and multisiting is the same—new congregations, church plants and multisite campuses are not the same thing. There are geographic, gifting and governance differences. A lack of clarity and understanding around these differences causes a lot of unnecessary problems in multisite churches. Some of the most effective multisite churches have also created successful church planting networks because they understand the differences and designed different strategies for them.

7. Se habla español (Spanish spoken here)

Multisite megachurches are leading the way in producing local congregations that are more economically, racially and ethnically diverse especially within Hispanic communities. These are not the traditional ethnic churches “using our church building” but diverse congregations under the banner of one church in multiple congregations with racially diverse campus pastors on the church staff.

8. Multisite Teaching Teams

Whether they utilize video sermons or not, there is a growing desire to develop preaching-teaching teams to strengthen the teaching bench of the church, develop teachers and potential successors while increasing the overall depth and breadth of biblical instruction.

9. Requests for Multisite Coaching

There is a rising chorus for on-going multisite coaching in the month-to-month oversight of a growing multisite church. A coach who can help churches go from two to five, then ten campuses. Someone who can help them avoid the potholes and get better at multisiting. They need a mentor and we got’em at MultiSite Solutions. Find the right one for you by visiting us at Considering a Multisite Mentor?

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Jim Tomberlin is founder and senior strategist of MultiSite Solutions, a company dedicated to assisting churches in multiplying their impact. Over three decades of diverse ministry, Jim has pastored a church in Germany, grown a megachurch in Colorado and pioneered the multisite strategy for Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Jim is the author of “125 Tips for MultiSite Churches” and co-author of “Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work.” Jim is based in Scottsdale, AZ. You can email him directly at jim@multisitesolutions.com, subscribe to his MultiSightings blog or follow him on Twitter at @MultiSiteGuy or @MergerGuru.