A few weeks ago Leadership Network broke the news that the number of multisite churches in North America far exceeds the number of megachurches, pushing beyond the 5000 mark. That news is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is simply the exponential growth of a movement over the past ten years that, at the time, included a small, pioneering group of only 50 or so churches.
New Opportunities and Issues in Multisite
As Leadership Network has served as a facilitator for many multisite conversations, contributing to the rapid growth of this movement throughout the past decade, we have watched a number of new opportunities and issues arise—the evolution of the Campus Pastor role, the successful practice of mergers, and the emergence of the internet campus, just a name a few. Other trends to keep an eye on include the application of multisite across rural communities, as well as the inclusion of home churches in the multisite strategy.
One such issue, which is critical to the successful expansion of a church’s multisite strategy beyond 3 or 4 campuses, is Central Support. The way in which a church effectively and efficiently support 2-3 campuses changes drastically when they move to 4 or more sites. The systems and structures that worked for campuses 1-3 just don’t work the same once you cross the threshold of the fourth campus. (Just a note: another structural tipping point seems to come around the 10th campus, though far fewer churches cross that barrier.) Many churches don’t make the leap from a church with multiple sites (1-3 locations) to becoming what some call a “true multisite church” (4 or more locations) because they are unwilling to make the structural changes necessary to support the growing complexities of the model. And according to our most recent statistics, 85% of churches that are multisite have 3 or fewer geographic locations, something of a testimony, I believe, to the challenges that come with making the necessary structural shifts.
The Need: Clarity Regarding Support Systems
With more churches utilizing multisite strategies to increase reach and growth, and with more current multisite churches expanding beyond 3 locations, the need for clarity related to central support structures and systems is high. In response to this growing need, Leadership Network will be hosting two Multisite Central Support InnovationLabs this fall in Dallas. We are bringing together a variety of innovative churches and multisite thought leaders to help teams ask the right questions and develop actionable plans as they build multisite support structures that will serve them well into the future. Group One, launching October 18th, is already filled. We will be posting learnings from that group in the months ahead. Applications for Group Two, which launches December 12, are now being accepted. For more information, visit the Multisite Central Support InnovationLab site.
What About You?
If you are a multisite church leader, what are you learning about supporting operational and programming needs across all campuses? What challenges do you face? Where are you having success? We want to hear from you!