Jim Tomberlin says church models are shifting to better support today’s church-goer.
The multisite strategy has become the “new normal” for healthy and growing churches in urban, suburban and rural communities. leadership network reports that an estimated 5 million people attend one of the more than 8,000 multisite churches across North America. Going multisite changes how church leaders think and do church. So how is the “new normal” of multisite changing how we do church in America?
The number of multisite churches is growing at a faster rate than megachurches. When I proposed the multisite idea to my Colorado Springs church elders in 1995, they responded skeptically, “Who would go to a multisite church?” Today nearly 10 percent of all Protestant churchgoers attend a church with multiple campuses. If multisite churches were a denomination they would be the 4th largest denomination in America.
Megachurches are getting bigger through multisiting because they are no longer limited to one location. According to Leadership Network’s Warren Bird, today there are 78 “gigachurches” with more than 10,000 in weekend attendance. Most of them are multisite churches. The smallest megachurch on Outreach magazine’s 100 Largest Churches list is nearly 6,000 in weekend attendance, a threshold that gets larger with each passing year.
The new economic realities, technological breakthroughs and shifting cultural attitudes towards churches and multisiting has changed the church facility conversation. New church buildings today are smaller, multipurpose, multivenue, community-centric and environmentally friendly buildings.
Denominations are being dragged into the multisite world by their leading churches doing it and their declining congregations in need of revitalization. Progressive denominational leaders are seeing the opportunities to grow their strong churches through multisite and salvage their struggling churches through mission-driven mergers.