What do you think of multi-site campuses? I say No — plant a new church there with its local leaders and teachers, what say you?
(RNS) The number of congregations that host worship services at more than one physical location has grown to more than 5,000 in the last decade, according to a new report.
Researchers say these “multisite” churches, which may share worshippers across town or many miles apart, are growing at a much larger pace than traditional megachurches.
Bird, the author of books on the multisite trend, has tracked the number of churches meeting in more than one place for his Dallas-based church think tank; he combined his findings with Faith Communities Today surveys.
Multisite churches have grown from fewer than 200 in 2001 to 1,500 in 2006 to an estimated 3,000 in 2009 to more than 5,000 today. In comparison, U.S. megachurches have grown from about 50 in 1970 to about 1,650 in 2012 in North America.
Multisite comes in all kinds of models: Some congregations speak different languages at different locations; some hear from different “campus pastors” onsite and others are preached to by a senior pastor who speaks live or via video.
“The more campuses you have, the more likely you are to use video teaching,” said Bird.
At Community Christian Church in the Chicago area, Pastor Dave Ferguson has taken a different approach with its dozen sites.
“I can only be at one location at a time,” he said.
Each week he gathers in a room with a team of campus pastors to develop a “big idea” into a sermon. A video featuring one of them is created, but the pastors can choose whether to speak from the original manuscript, a version of it they edited or show the video.
In the end, the general message reaches about 10,000 people worshipping at sites that include a community center, a college theater, reopened churches and office parks.