Monday, December 07, 2009

Multi-Site Church Road Trip

I don’t remember when I first heard the term “multi-site church,” but I know when I first became a student of this growing movement. It was in 2004, when our church was considering adding a second campus. Long before their first multi-site book, the authors of Multi-Site Church Road Trip: Exploring the New Normal were a great resource for me. I benefitted from an afternoon Greg Ligon spent with our leadership team (and his overall guidance of this focus area for Leadership Network), from Geoff Surratt’s one-on-one counsel (and for being an interviewee for my “second chair” book), and from Warren Bird’s extensive research and white papers.

Several years ago, I had the impression that almost all multi-site churches followed a standard approach. A dynamic, highly effective pastor with a rapidly growing church exports its DNA and its teaching to a rented facility in a nearby geographic area using a cookie-cutter formula. Many have done this with great success, but what I appreciate about the multi-site road trip is the variety of successful models that the authors profile. For almost any preconceived idea that you might have about multi-site churches, this book will give you evidence to support AND refute your opinion. It’s also full of practical advice on a wide range of topics: the role of the campus pastor, use of technology, internet and international campuses, simultaneous launches, organization structure, mergers with existing churches, and more.

My only critique is that Geoff, Greg, and Warren seem to suggest that almost any church can go multi-site. While I agree that the idea is not limited to megachurches, the reality is that many churches are not healthy enough or clear enough about their DNA and vision to launch a new campus. (There are a couple of brief comments on this point, but perhaps not enough to keep someone from making an ill-advised leap.)

Of course, with something as dynamic as the multi-site movement, questions will continue to arise. That’s why we’ll be a stop on the multi-site church blog tour on December 15. I hope you’ll join us then to interact with the authors.

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