Listed below are a few resources that provided some background for my research as well as others that have subsequently appeared. This page is a work in progress and will be updated periodically.
USA Today story
Here is a link to a story in USA Today on multi-site churches. It was after my dad sent me this link that I though I’d better do something with the results from my research. The story does not really add anything to what was previously known and available on multi-site churches, but it does show the growing attention that the trend is attracting. The sad thing about the article is that it focuses on the muti-site churches that primarily are about replicating worship in different locations with a charismatic lead pastor. Other types of multi-site churches exist that I believe are more interesting. It also mentions Mark Driscoll’s comparison of multi-site churches to Methodist circuit-riders, which I will cover in a later blog post.
The Multi-Site Church Revolution, Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, Warren Bird
Published in 2006, this book was the first piece of research that I ran across on the multi-site church phenomenon. I think the Leadership Network is still pretty much the only ones doing sustained work and research on it today as well. The authors liken the change from single-site to multi-site churches as being comparable to the change in the United States from mostly locally owned, independent businesses in the 1950s, to the current pervasiveness of chain stores. The authors estimate that up to 30,000 churches could be considered multi-site within the next few years, and that currently more than 1,500 churches are already multi-site. The definition of a multi-site church is fairly straightforward:
“A multi-site church is one church meeting in multiple locations—different rooms on the same campus, different location in the same region, or in some instances, different cities, states, or nations. A multi-site church shares a common vision, budget, leadership, and board.”
The authors also label multi-site churches as: “one church with many congregations.” Surratt, Ligon, and Bird identify five types of multi-site churches from their research, although they admit that many of the multi-site churches are actually a mixture of several of the types. Their types are: the video-venue model, the regional-campus model, the teaching-team model, the partnership model, and the low-risk model. For the purposes of my research, the low-risk model was the most interesting of the five. The other models usually involve in some way a large church or megachurch replicating itself either through an additional worship venue or through an additional campus, fully-staffed with pastors and programs. In contrast, the fifth model is typified by Christ the King Community Church in Burlington, Washington. This model involves a decentralized network of small groups and worship centers that stresses adherence to a common vision, mission, and set of beliefs, but places little emphasis on replicating additional programmatic aspects of the main campus.