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Multisite is the New Black

A few years ago, I was invited to participate in a research interview conducted by Dr. Warren Bird of the Leadership Network. There were two other pastors from my conference, involved in the interview and our topic focused on multisite church planting and the unfolding processes of multiplication. During the creative conversation, I remember humorously thinking, “Multisite is the new black.” It’s not rocket science, after all — we are better together than in ministry silos.

We are better together than in the ministry silos and Christian bubbles we often unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) create.

My interests (driven by the problem of sustainability when reaching unchurched and disconnected people) sparked a deep desire to recapture our United Methodist connectional heritage, while multiplying in effective and efficient ways. This exploration resulted in the 2010 early development of The Syndeo Project, which now provides a multisite direction in our work to connect projects here in the Greater Northwest Area. You will learn more about that in the next section.

The interview and discussion with Dr. Bird provided a wonderful space to ask bold questions and wrestle with real-life circumstances that related to multiplication in church planting. Here are some research discoveries that Dr. Bird shared in a follow-up report (“Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard”):

    1. An impressive 85% of surveyed multisite churches are growing — and at the strong rate of 14% per year.
    2. Campus viability starts at 75-350 people, depending on your model.
    3. The typical multisite church is just four years into the process, and 57% plan to launch an additional campus in the next 12 months.
    4. One in three (37%) churches started a multisite campus as the result of a merger.
    5. The vast majority (88%) of churches report that going multisite increased the role of lay participation.
    6. The vast majority (87%) of campus pastors are found internally — trained and hired from within the church.
    7. Multisite campuses grow far more than church plants, and likewise multisite campuses have a greater evangelistic impact than church plants.
    8. Nearly half (48%) of multisite churches directly sponsor new churches.
    9. The recommended distance between campuses is a travel time of 15-30 minutes.
    10. In rating what campuses do well, spiritual growth and volunteering are near the top, and newer campuses do better at reaching the unchurched.