One approach to multisite churches is for a medium to medium large sized church to spin off “satellite” congregations. These are typically formed when you have enough families– say 5-10 who live about a 20+ minute drive from church in a particular neighborhood. These can be ideal locations to consider a new satellite. Why?
Because, while your current members from that neighborhood are willing to drive in to church, their friends are not (usually). If you start a new satellite in this new location, then their friends are much more likely to attend.
This first approach– let’s call it– planting satellites– is the one I originally thought we’d pursue, and it is the one that is being done with some success in Albuquerque, NM and in San Diego, CA, among other places.
A new approach– which we are pioneering in Houston– is to take existing, fellowship sized churches and merge them with a mid-size to larger church. The former are the “joining” churches, and the latter is the “adopting” church.
Advantages are that you already have a committed group of lay leaders at the “satellite” location. You have talent available at one location that normally would not be assisting another location. You have creative resources, you have social justice relationships, and there is some shared history.
A “disadvantage” for the adopting church is that some of their resources (mostly staff) will now go to assist satellites. The primary “disadvantage” for the joining church is giving up control (in order to attempt a new level of success that has previously eluded them).
I put “disadvantage” in quotes, because there is a hidden advantage in there, too. Staff can learn new “best practices” from the joining churches, and joining churches giving up control to supervised professionals can increase the overall quality of church life, freeing up lay leaders to do more ministry and less administration.
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