The Evolution of the Multisite Church

Multisite churches have become the "new norm"—but is that a good thing?


Obviously, not everyone does multisite the same way. Some have had success with a large central campus and smaller satellite campuses. I get that there are different ways to do it, and they can be good, but I want to suggest one way I’d like to see become more common—regional multisites that are leadership development engines, sending out planter pastors and campus pastors (depending on the gifting and call of the pastor) to start churches or sites that reach lost people and develop more such leaders.

Obviously, much of this is about leaders—we need the multiplication of leaders. I want more sites, but I also want more preachers and teachers. There is no question that it is harder to develop a Tim Keller than it is to add a new site, so we must be intentional about a strategy to achieve both.

So, instead of “multisite as an overflow room,” the future can (and I think should), move to a missional strategy to evangelize a region, raise up new leaders, engage new contexts and more. It already has in some places, and I am hoping it will in more.

With that, and less of a focus on building a brand, that may often lead to no real central campus and a higher emphasis on church planting. Different values produce different structures.

Such an approach may be multisite 2.0, the next “new normal,” and could provide a model that empowers more active participants, and creates less passive spectators, in a multisite church.

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Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzer is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Ed is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly, serves on the advisory council of Sermon Central and Christianity Today's Building Church Leaders, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN.