Multiple Thoughts…

Two weeks ago the leadership team of my bi-site, church community sat down with multi-site consultant, Jim Tomberlin, to discuss our potential strategy of developing more sites and venues.  Jim is one of the leading experts within the multi-site movement, serving previously as Willow Creek’s multi-site innovator, while now working extensively with many leading, multi-site churches.

As I have always had some philosophical cautions with the multi-site movement (I rarely go “whole-sale” on anything), it was a good reminder that this particular tool within church growth is effective.  If the statistics are accurate, which I believe for the most part they are, you can’t deny the numerical and maturational growth of believers through multi-site strategies.

If you’d like to view Tomberlin’s slides, you can see them HERE: TomberlinSlides (Although I’ll warn you that they aren’t very detailed nor visually stimulating!).

During our day’s discussion with Jim, I realized that as this national discussion and strategy continues to unleash itself within the American church, two cautions should continue to surface:

  1. Those multi-site proponents that confuse method with message, assuming the multi-site “is thee way” of doing church.
  2. Those multi-site antagonists that dismiss a strategy because it doesn’t fit their philosophical grid, but may in fact still fit within the cores of our ecclesiastical mandate and prove to be successful by certain standards.

Yes, multi-site is simply a tool…and an effective one for many churches.  Is multi-site for everyone?  No,…but many should strongly consider it as a potential strategy for their church’s heightened impact.


~ by Dave Smith on September 30, 2009.

3 Responses to “Multiple Thoughts…”

  1. Dave, I’m going to put this somewhat rhetorically, but I mean it in all honesty (and without any ill will whatsoever):

    At what point do giant multi-site churches simply become the Wal-Mart’s of the church world that are running all the mom and pop shops out of business?

    (I realize my question is only tangential to your topic, but it’s a question that’s been eating at me for several years.)

  2. Very good honest question Ben.

    Funny, the way Tomberlin described the various approaches to how much you have your church’s DNA on a site what either doing a branch (essentially a clone of your existing church), franchise (having essential DNA but variance in methods), or family (still a connection, but even more flexible in style).

    That doesn’t answer your question, but shows the use of a language that surfaces your concern.

    Frankly, I am not sure…maybe others can jump in and answer. I think some would say there are enough unchurched to go around where competition can’t be an issue, and maybe others that would say some churches are suppose to go through a cycle where they do eventually fade away, and the larger churches branching out are only helping with this process.

    The ones I have seen branch out tend to be so stylistically different from the other churches in the area, that it doesn’t seem like they would ever attract the same types of people…but that is only from an outsiders perspective. I’m unsure if that perception remains true or not.

  3. I think some would say there are enough unchurched to go around where competition can’t be an issue,

    I suppose that’s what Driscoll would argue out in Seattle, and it would seem like he’s got a strong case for that region of the country.

    As you know, I grew up in MI, and I’ve lived in a couple different regions here. I can’t think of a neighborhood I’ve ever been in that there weren’t multiple churches representing multiple different flavors of Christianity.

    I realize that’s the the case everywhere, but that’s the experience from which I speak.

    Anyway, I don’t know the answer either. The best I could venture is to hope that churches that become multi-site think before they act. Think about the churches that will be affected by a mega-church moving in … inevitably, there will be an effect.

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