In our last Equipper Blog I talked about riding the wave of the multi-site church movement. One of the advantages of multi-site churches is the offer of hope for churches in the stagnation or dying stage of a church life cycle.
Over 4,000 churches are closing each year in America. Two of the main causes are lack of finances and a lack of effective visionary leadership. The multi-site church can be a major help in both of these areas. First, financially a multi-site church can operate on a much lower budget than a traditional model. Secondly, a church with a proven strategic vision is uniquely positioned to use their model to revitalize a struggling church.
First, in this blog I want to suggest a few must haves for the dying church to become a multi-site church and see revitalization.
There must be a commitment to be Great Commission focused with a biblical foundation (this will be considered more in Part 3 of this blog series).
The church must face the reality that it cannot effectively continue on its own.
There must be a willingness to step out in faith and give up all control, resources, worship style, building design, and all “sacred cows.”
The church must have something to offer the establishing church.
It may be a building
It may be a core of people
It may be a contact base (e.g. a VBS list, community contact, etc.)
It may be a place closer for members of the establishing church to attend
There must be patience. One of the most difficult things about any transition is that it will require patience. Most repairs are never quick fixes. Transitioning to a multi-site church is no exception, it calls for patience.
A “MUST NOT HAVE” is major debt. The establishing church will be investing in many resources and funds. Thus, to take on an incurred debt in most cases would be poor stewardship.
Second, the effectiveness of a multi-site church revitalization will, also, be significantly dependent on the “Establishing Church” (main campus) having the right focus and resources. These will include the following:
A mission and vision for planting and establishing churches based on the Great Commission.
A staff with expertise to share how to revitalize a church.
A model/design that is reproducible.
A willingness to be flexible. The multi-site will need to be reflective of the “Establishing Church.” However, there needs to be an understanding that church cultures can change even just a few miles away.
Be able to provide some leadership. If possible, the Establishing Church could provide a few families to support the multi-site for a period of time.
The Establishing Church senior pastor needs to become known to the multi-site. Occasional appearances at the multi-site make for a sense of one church with locations.
An impacting worship ministry that can be taught and transferred to the multi-site church.
A technical team to provide the skills and resources for a dynamic impact.
An intentional strategy for discipleship and leadership development that is transferable.
A multi-site church is not a “one size fits all” for all churches in stagnation and/or near the death cycle. In many cases it will often be the last option. The good news is that it can be an option to revitalize a struggling church and make a greater impact in a community. A multi-site church strategy is like marriage, “not to be entered into lightly.” The establishing church and struggling church both need to make the decision based on intentional, intercessory prayer seeking the Lord's plan not ours.
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
NOTE: In the next Equipper Blog some biblical distinctives will be considered for effective multi-site churches.