multisitepodcast

Lessons Learned from Studying the Multisite Church Movement with Warren Bird

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Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. This week I’m excited to have Dr. Warren Bird back chatting with us today.

We’re talking about multisite this month and Warren is a great source for insights on this movement. He is the VP of Research and Equipping at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). ECFA developed seven integrity standards for doing ministry well which parachurch organizations and churches can follow. Warren helps discover the best practices in what organizations are doing and how ministries can apply the learnings.

Today Warren is with us to talk about trends he’s observed within the multisite movement and what your church can learn from them.

  • Examine the global multisite trend. // Multisite was not a US invention. On the contrary it was popularized in South Korea as their large churches took off. Many of the largest churches aren’t in the US and there’s much we can learn from the global multisite movement. A list of megachurches around the world can be found at www.leadnet.org/world. Churches on this list tend to be innovators and entrepreneurs and exploring these findings allows us to see a bigger picture of what God seems to be doing around the world. The more we learn from other multisite churches, the better equipped we are.
  • Learn from Canada. // When it comes to the secularization of the culture, Canada is several years ahead of the US. Studying the response of Canadian churches to their culture can provide instruction for what the church in the US can expect and ways we can respond. As we increasingly move into a post-Christian society, it’s key to pay attention to what God is doing elsewhere.
  • Multisite isn’t for every church. // Multisite is a response to growth rather than a strategy for growth. If 80% of churches are plateaued or declining, Warren notes that they need to have a very compelling and clear reason for going multisite. For a church that isn’t already growing, going to a multisite model can be toxic because it suddenly dilutes your resources and volunteers. The biggest growth and momentum of multisite is happening with already growing churches. Often these churches are facing physical facility challenges, but they have momentum working for them which provides an opportunity to experiment with a multisite model.
  • Consider a church merger. // Around 40% of multisite campuses are created from a church merger and this movement is on the rise. Zoning for churches is difficult to get so when a declining church is faced with closing its doors, a church merger with a thriving church is a win for the kingdom. In their book Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work, Warren Bird and Jim Tomberlin discuss how two churches can combine forces, drawing on both of their strengths, and increase their missional impact.
  • What’s your vision for multisite? // The most recent study of multisite churches shows that 47% are getting beyond three locations while more seem to pause at two campuses. If your church finds itself in this situation, explore whether multisite was simply a response to space issues, or part of a bigger vision to reach more people. In order for a two-campus multisite church to maintain and grow, they need to figure out the momentum point for their campuses.
  • Three things in leadership. // The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company by Ram Charan teaches that at every leadership level you have to do three things differently: value different things, spend your time differently, and focus on different goals. Similarly, going multisite is about learning to think and lead in a different way. Communication is very important, and as geographical proximity changes, the leader has to be willing to learn new skills, new time priorities, and new levels of collaboration.

You can find out more about the ECFA at www.ecfa.org. Warren blogs at largechurchtrends.blogspot.com; visit to learn more about research in creating a church board and other movements.  

You can also check out the books Multi-site Church Revolution and Multi-site Church Roadtrip to learn more about going multisite at your church.

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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.