5 Growth Lessons for Your Church from the Multisite Movement

Is your church considering going multisite? Maybe you already have another location or two and are thinking about launching more campuses in the future. Or is your church a single location that’s not at all interested in multiplying into new locations?

The multisite movement has profoundly impacted the church across America over the last 20 years. In fact, it could be said that this movement, more than anything else, has had the largest impact on the local church in the last 50 years. In the most recent study of the multisite church movement by Leadership Network, it was found that:

  • 82% of the churches surveyed reported they are growing.
  • 14% said they are considering launching three to eight campuses in the next 24 months.

This movement continues to gain momentum, which is remarkable considering the fact that 85% of all churches in North America are either in plateau or decline. 

Regardless of whether or not you’re considering going multisite, if you’re interested in reaching more people and making a deeper impact, you should examine this movement to draw out some meaningful lessons to implement at your church. Today we’ll explore five insights from the multisite movement. Any church, regardless of size and direction, can apply these concepts and hopefully make a significant impact on their community.

Releasing Volunteers Drives Church Growth 

The greatest success factor of a multisite campus launch is the size and health of the volunteer core. 

When you look under the hood of any multisite church, you’ll find a church that has figured out how to recruit, release, reward, and retain a growing volunteer base. 

All churches can get better in this area of multiplication. Releasing new volunteers is a core church growth tactic because a natural byproduct of new volunteers is that they become more talkative in their personal relationships about your church. When we bring someone new onto our volunteer team, that person likely changes various aspects of their personal life, which leads them to tell their friends and family about what led them to become more engaged with their church. Acquiring volunteers means more people are talking about your church which in turn leads to further growth.

In terms of volunteers within the multisite movement, two-thirds of the volunteers at new campuses are brand new to serving at the church. In my own leadership, I haven’t seen anything more effective at both finding and releasing new volunteers than launching new campuses. 

What could your church do in the coming 12 months that would release 100 new volunteers? 

Churches Multiplying Churches

Healthy churches multiply, take new ground, expand their reach, and ultimately launch new churches. A fully formed church really isn’t a fully formed church unless it multiplies because healthy things multiply.  

One of the most encouraging recent statistics from the Leadership Network is that 37% of multisite churches surveyed reported having “grandchild campuses.” Their new locations spawned another location, and this is a major step in the development of the multisite movement and in the life of the church.

Our churches should find ways to replicate themselves. More than that though, we need to replicate the things that replicate more churches. If we’re going to have an exponential impact and see the message of Jesus permeate our culture, we’re going to need exponential churches. Exponential churches are those looking to raise up other churches who will in turn raise up more churches.

It’s like that old television commercial where a friend tells a friend, who tells a friend, who tells a friend, and before you know it, the message has spread across the entire country. The same is true with church multiplication. We need to plant campuses, that plant campuses, that plant campuses. Before you know it, a city has changed, a state is turned around, and a country is impacted with the message of Jesus.

What could your church do in the next 12, 24, or 48 months that would result in two new expressions of your church?

New Growth Follows New Strategies

The reality for many churches today is that multisite is still considered a novel idea. Even though this movement is entering its third decade in our country, there are still aspects of this ministry that seem new to many churches. 

Yes, multisite is an innovative approach. 

Yes, it is going to stress your system to try something new. 

Yes, there is risk when you set out to try something novel. 

Yes, it’s the kind of thing that could generate problems for your church. But if you want to expand your reach, you need to try things that you’ve never done. As the saying goes, if you’ve always done what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.

Craig Groeschel says if we’re going to reach the people that no one else is reaching, then we’re going to have to try things that no one else is doing. The unmistakable evidence of the multisite church movement is that the churches that are willing to try new things are the ones that are reaching new people. 

What could your church do in the next year that would be new? How could you invest time, effort, and energy into something you’re not doing today to reach people who currently aren’t in your church?

Nothing Makes New Christians Better Than New Campuses (or Churches)

A few years ago, my friend Warren Bird was commissioned to look at the impact of church planting or launching new campuses. [ref] Many fascinating results emerged from that study, but what I find myself returning to is the idea that churches are most likely to have their greatest impact in the first five years of their existence.

In fact, the statistics are even more poignant than that. It would appear as if most of a church’s potential impact for the gospel happens within the first five years of its existence. This is intuitively true. New churches and new campuses have a deep focus on presenting the message of Jesus in a compelling manner and seeing people plug into communities of faith and grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Something happens when a church attains a certain critical mass where their salvation drive slows down. The secret that multisite churches have unlocked is that a new campus can invigorate an existing church back into an evangelism strategy. It forces the entire church to reconsider what they need to do to reach their community and see it connected with the message of Jesus.

What could you do in the next year to reignite the evangelism culture in your church? What practical steps could you take to see your church reach out to people who currently aren’t in your church or any other church in your community?

Faith is Spelled R-I-S-K 

Fear is believing that something that hasn’t happened is going to happen.

Faith is believing that something that hasn’t happened is going to happen. 

As leaders, we know that the difference between fear and faith is very thin. Sometimes being in the midst of a faith-filled decision, that might have even been fueled by a certain amount of logic and rationale, can feel like a fearful time as well.

These multisite churches that are breaking the trend of impact and growth are led by leaders who understand that risk is a part of what it means to lead in the church. We are called towards things that may not work because the message demands it. Our job is to step out and encourage others to engage with the mission of Jesus at a deeper level. Talk about a risky venture. 

What could you do as a church in the next year to move your leadership community to a deeper place of faith? What are you doing today that you’re not sure will work, but you have seen it impact another community?

Get the FREE three-part video series to help your church launch more multisite campuses

Is your church thinking about launching new multisite campuses? Have you already launched a campus or two but are stuck getting the next locations launched? Are you ready to take the next steps in your multisite expansion but aren’t sure where to start?

I’m releasing a FREE three-part video series designed to help your church reach more people through multisite church expansion. The lessons in this series come from my practical experience of being in the driver’s seat for 13 launches and from helping other churches like yours! Here is what we’ll be covering in the free video series: 

  • Video #1: The Biggest Mistake Churches Make When Launching Campuses. Build an approach to launching locations that avoids this mistake, and your church will scale up to reach more people! 
  • Video #2: Keys to Picking a Great Location for Your Next Campus. Apply the lessons in this video and you’ll find effective locations that will aid your church’s growth for years to come! 
  • Video #3: 5 Dirty Secrets of the Multisite Church Movement. Finally, get an insider’s look at the underbelly of this movement to better inform your leadership as you move forward! 

[Click here to sign up for the free three-part video series today.]

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.