I was just interviewed by a young man who was doing research on multi sites for his seminary degree. He was quite thorough and seemed to have read the waterfront on the subject. What got my attention were two insights I was not aware of.
The first insight was that I was the second person to mention multi sites and the first to predict 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 wrote that one of the five trends of 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 are the trends I’m seeing today. My response was quick- mutli-sites and mergers. I went on to say that I prefer multi-site over church plants because the success rate for mutli-sites is 5 to 1 to church plants. 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.