By Jeremy Fitch
Multisite churches have become the new trend over the past few years, but should they be all there is? The local church has a place at this point, but multisite is the future of the Church culture.
In a culture of this youth movement in the church, it is shown that large gatherings are the new normal. This trend of large conferences and weekly gatherings have brought about the opportunity for these mega churches and multisites to form. Part of that comes because many of our pastors are not just seen on a local platform, but a national platform.
This multisite trend is working and growing at some unbelievable rates. In a study done by Warren Bird on ‘The Multisite Church Scorecard,’ it is clear that the only way for multisite is up.
“The typical multisite church is just four years into the process, but the average attendance is 1,200 from the beginning. There are over 8,000 multisite campuses thus far and, 57 percent plan to launch an additional campus in the next 12 months,” said the site.
On the pastoral side, the culture is placing these pastors in a position, where they are more leaders and in some cases icons in certain circles. Leaders Rich Wilkerson Jr, Louie Giglio, Mark Batterson and many others are often seen as examples of this.
Each of these men have become leaders in the public eye and not just their churches. The ability to adapt with the culture, but also relate with the culture through writing books that have become New York Times best sellers, is something that is so unique.
While they may be more open to the public than some in church culture, Rich Wilkerson wanted his book to be read by more than just followers of Jesus. He talked with Rapzilla in an interview about letting his friend Kanye West design his book cover.
"I think the content of the book is what I believe to be life changing. The greatest message in the world, which is the gospel. it's not my message, it's Christ's message and we're just carriers of it but because the content is so rich, I wanted to make sure the cover had some sort of pull in. I wanted it to be great,” said Wilkerson.
When others, even from within the Church see these types of relationships, it is easy to wonder if because of these multisite and mega churches, is the church becoming more of an organization instead of investing in local relationships from within. Darren Kizer, a leader at Orange ministries in Atlanta, GA and former pastor at Parker Hill Community Church in Scranton, PA gave his perspective on the Church today.
“It is organizational leadership minded, in the sense of, you’ve got some people who understand how organizations work. Leadership understands systems, they understand what it takes to lead at a different level,” said Kizer.
There are certainly some disadvantages of the size that some of these multisite churches are becoming and former multisite intern at National Community Church Jacob Clarke shed some light on that.
“The individual churches can sometimes feel disconnected from the whole. That there’s stuff going on at other campuses, you hear about events. And although you are aware of those kinds of things, you don’t know the people there, know exactly what the campus feels like. So although you are part of a larger church building, I think it can often leave you feeling disconnected,” said Clarke.
One thing is for certain, in this youth movement the church is utilizing every aspect they can, but the leadership of the multisite format appear to like to develop culture even as they branch out.
“The vast majority (87 percent) of campus pastors are found internally—trained and hired from within the church,” said the site.
Some insiders that have been shared their own opinion on the subject have mentioned that in this culture seminary is not supplying that pastor with the basic needs he will use in a multisite generation.
If you have the leadership qualities and a gift for serving, it is possible you could be a great leader of a multisite in this new church culture. Kizer had some comments on seminary and how the church has evolved.
“The challenge is that seminary is fantastic at training for primarily theology. They really have been traditionally very poor at training on leadership outside of personal spiritual leadership…the more the church grows, often what you are seeing is the churches outgrow the leadership of a lead pastor because he was primarily trained to understand scripture and present it from a platform, but was not trained to understand how to lead a large organization with 20,40, or 100 staff,” said Kizer.
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