Jim Tomberlin is an expert on what multisite churches are talking about these days. Recently he noted 10 trends in multi-site in the USA.
The multisite model continues to grow in its acceptance as a legitimate and effective vehicle for outreach, volunteer mobilization, leadership development and regional impact with more than 3,000 expressions of multisite church across North America. Even though 50 percent of megachurches have multiple campuses and another 20 percent are thinking about it, the multisite movement has outgrown the megachurch movement. Each multisite church has a unique church-print but there are some common trends and buzzwords emerging from them as we enter 2012.
1. Mergers. This is the next big thing on the church scene, and though not exclusive to multisite churches, these mission-driven mergers are being propelled by multisite churches. Look this year for the first book ever published on church mergers, Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, co-authored by Warren Bird and me. It will be released this April by Jossey-Bass.
2. Small Groups. Regardless what you call them—life groups, home groups, neighborhood groups, missional communities—small groups are big and an essential complement to multiple campuses.
3. Community Transformation. Church leaders are focusing less on church growth and more on serving their local communities through multiple campuses and collaboration with other like-minded local churches, ministries and organizations.
4. ¿Español? Everywhere I go across America, church leaders are asking how to reach the growing Hispanic population and other ethnic groups in their backyard. Multisite churches are leading the way with one out of four campuses speaking a language other than English. The new mantra of multisite churches will become: One Church—Multisite, Multigenerational, Multiethnic.
5. Teaching Teams. Multisite churches are leading the way in creative ways with team teaching. Nearly half of all multisite churches utilize live, in-person teaching, and the other half utilize fully or partially video-delivered sermons.
6. Hybrids. The most effective churches today are launching multiple campuses and planting churches in all sorts of combinations. There is a wonderful hybridization of multisites and church plants happening everywhere. At the end of the day, whether a church launches a multisite campus or plants a church, it produces the same result—a new congregation in the community. It’s all about being a reproducing church. May their tribe increase!
7. Revitalization. The multisite movement began as a Band-Aid for megachurches that found themselves out of room or limited by zoning restrictions. It quickly evolved into a growth strategy for healthy churches of all sizes and is now becoming a revitalization strategy for stable but stuck churches. This is also fueling the growth in church mergers.
8. Discipleship. The trendy church words of the last few years—emergent, missional, incarnational—all boil down to old-fashioned “discipleship” with a growing emphasis on creating systems, tools and metrics to facilitate spiritual formation and produce fully devoted followers of Jesus.
9. Student Ministry. Multisite churches are increasingly moving their student ministries off of Sunday mornings to Sunday evenings or another night of the week. This allows families to worship and serve together on Sunday mornings at the campus nearest them.
10. Succession. The biggest elephant whispered about in church boardrooms across the United States is the topic of senior pastor succession. There is a huge tsunami of church turnovers coming as the aging baby boomer senior pastors turn over the reins to the next generation. Multisite churches have a built-in pipeline with campus pastors at multiple locations who can be mentored, groomed and prepared for succession by the senior pastor.
Similar trends are developing in Australia.
P.S. For an indepth report on mega-churches, click here.