I joined the Church of Christ a few months before the Mission Heights location opened its doors. The whole concept of a “multisite” church was new and strange to me. I didn’t quite understand the point, beyond a cost-savings perspective. A church gets to expand without rebuilding and has one staff to run it all, rather than planting a new church (and having to hire a completely new staff), or building an expensive “mega church” to house the growing congregation.
But with that perspective alone, I found myself resistant when there were whispers of another site in the works.
“What’s the point?” I asked myself, “We haven’t grown to the point of needing another location yet! Our volunteer base is stretched thin as it is! How will we support ANOTHER site? Nope. I can’t get on board with this.”
This, my dear friends, is the story of a skeptic turned believer.
A lot of my hesitation towards multisite actually stemmed from a misunderstanding of what it means to be multisite. Here are some misunderstandings I had:
Multisite is for churches who have outgrown their current location and need another site to accommodate their numbers.
Multisite is a strategy for growth, not a response to growth! We use a new site to reach new people. We use a new site as a way to further the Kingdom of God on new frontiers! It’s not about our current population.
Multisite means cloning our church. We just repeat what we did with Mission Heights.
Multisite is endless possibilities! The definition of church is actually quite flexible! Beyond a few “non-negotiables”, a church can take all kinds of forms. Perhaps a leased space downtown for low-income families? Perhaps a gathering on the GPRC campus to teach students? Perhaps an internet-based church? Perhaps a church in a small town that currently has no church? Seriously. The possibilities are endless! What kind of church format gets you excited and passionate?? That could be the next site!
We’ve already accomplished multisite status. No need to do more.
Multisite is a calling. And like any calling, one is never “done.” This church followed God’s leading 7 years ago and chose to adopt the identity of “Multisite.” It is who we are. Our purpose as a church is to reach out into new areas to further God’s Kingdom. We have been called to this identity. To stop now would be like a seminary student declaring that he had “accomplished” being a pastor and sitting back after preaching one sermon, never to do another again. A calling is a journey, not a destination.
It’s a bad time. Money? People? Resources?
I only realized this after I became a member of the staff, but there has been SO much behind the scenes work on this. Lots of prayer. Lots of research. Lots of careful consideration. The church has been budgeting for this since the last site was launched. The next site doesn’t necessarily need a lot of people/resources, depending on what form the next site takes. We don’t need to buy another building. We don’t need to have an “insta-congregation” ready and filling the pews at another location. Multisite is so flexible! And, remember, the goal is growth. The goal is to reach new people. It’s not about spreading our current congregation out thinner. And God has been so very faithful to us! He has provided in areas of need. He has blessed us in many ways!
With all of these “Reality Checks”, I’ve gone from digging my heels in and shouting “No!” at every mention of multisite to actually being very excited at the possibilities multisite offers! This is wide open! This is creative! This is Kingdom work! This is being on the frontlines of God’s battle against the darkness! This is bringing new light to people in this community and beyond! Instead of being mildly tolerant of our identity as a “Multisite Church”, I am now passionately excited to be a part of this movement!
What do you think? What possibilities do you dream for a church? What areas/demographics do you see a need for a new kind of church site? What has God put on your heart? So many possibilities!