The Multisite Model of church multiplication is growing and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. I am encouraged that leaders and churches all over North America are expanding the Kingdom of God through multisites. It seems to be an effective way to reach people far from God and has seen great sustainability, even though it’s really only been around for about two decades. Dr. Warren Bird and the Leadership Network have released some very helpful research on churches using the multisite model. Let me share a couple of the more salient points from one of their recent documents called “Latest Multisite Trends: How a New Generation of Pastors Is Shifting to Strategies that Reproduce and Multiply.” (Find the full report on www.leadnet.org)
- More than 5 million people attended a multisite church in North America last weekend.
- Multisite church attendance is as big as the continent’s largest denomination.
- The movement has grown from 50 multisite churches to thousands in just 20 years.
While these stats show exciting signs of growth and expansion, other research and the good old-fashioned eyeball test is telling us that multisites themselves are typically not multiplying. Meaning this: there are mother churches who are starting daughter churches, but the reproduction stops there. The mother church may have lots of kids but end up with no grandkids. Like the t-shirt I see from time to time says: “If I knew how fun grandkids were, I would have had them first.” Grandkids are what we are needing! If we are serious about being a multiplication movement and reaching Canada, we must start multisites that will start multisites and keep repeating that process.
This begs the question: what needs to happen to get multisites to multiply? Let me share some of my observations as I have been connecting with pastors, leaders and districts. These ideas are not proven concepts or actions, but are shared with the hope they can spur on better viewpoints and improved strategies. At the very least, I hope this starts a conversation.
Multisites should start with the expectation to multiply.
How we start any new multisite is very important! That first year is like wet cement that slowly dries and forms into rhythms, routines, patterns, organizational habits, and culture. Research tells us that after the three-year mark of a church plant, the plateau that many churches experience sets in. The time to vision for the future is right at the beginning. Set the standard that all multisites are committed to multiplication. One suggestion recently mentioned to me is for multisite churches to try multiservices first. It will prepare your multisite for future church multiplication in very practical and helpful ways.
Multisite leadership teams need to be given the freedom to cast vision and dream.
In many multisite models, the main campus leadership drives the vision and dreams of the multisite. The problem I see is that sometimes the main campus leadership isn’t aware of what’s happening on the ground level of the multisite. In the city where I live, you can drive fifteen minutes in any direction and find distinct cultural diversity, age demographic, and significant socio-economic differences. There needs to be some freedom given to the local leadership at the multisite level, allowing them to lead in the individuality required to reach their unique neighbourhood. When permission is given to the multisite leadership to dream and vision for their current multisite, I believe this will unlock even more dreams and vision to see another site started out of their gathering!
Multisites are committed early to developing a strong leadership pipeline.
Over time, multisites can become like their parent churches, with 80% of the work being done by 20% of the people. The launch of a new multisite creates a lot of excitement and momentum, and this enlivens and enrolls volunteers to be a part of the vision. But, just like any organization, church volunteers can become fatigued over time and attrition begins to take place. Multisites need to be thinking that they can never have enough volunteers, keeping a continued focus on recruitment, assessing, equipping and releasing. Many hands make light work. Leaders of mulitsites may really feel the pain of missing this step if many of the best volunteers end up leaving in 3-5 years to start a new multisite.
Let’s believe God is ready to move on our nation. Let’s believe He is answering our prayers of sending laborers into His fields. Let’s believe that He desires that none should perish but all have everlasting life. Let’s believe He wants to use your church and your leaders to multiply to reach Canadians. Let’s believe it’s possible to reach our nation! If Canada wins, the world wins!