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The Multisite Movement: What All Church Leaders Need to Know

Category - Religion
by Lisa Eifert on October 13th, 2016

Facing declining participation rates, a rapidly aging population, and an incoming generation of congregants with very different needs and preferences than their predecessors, today’s churches are facing unprecedented challenges. With conventional approaches no longer hitting the mark when it comes to engaging parishioners, church leaders share one overarching priority: calling more people to worship. One increasingly popular way churches are expanding their reach? Multisite churches. Let’s take a closer look at this trend, along with highlighting one vital strategy designed to maximize your multisite ministry.

The 411 on Multisite Churches

Multisite churches aren’t an entirely new phenomenon. In fact, the Leadership Network Innovation Series featured the movement a full decade ago with the publication of, “The Multisite Church Revolution: Being One Church in Many Locations.”  When the book came out, multisite churches—meaning churches with two or more locations—numbered around 1,500.  Less than 10 years later, their numbers had skyrocketed to more than 8,000 and continue to grow today.

But what, exactly, does it mean to be a multisite church? Authors Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird propose that multisite churches—also known as portable churches—represent the evolution from a narrow concept of one service in one location to something much broader: “embracing the concept of one church with more than one site: multiple congregations sharing a common vision, budget, leadership, and board.”

And while the multisite model may push the limits of how we think about church, it’s clearly working. Multisite churches have a wider and more diverse reach; more volunteers; baptize more people; and activate more people into ministry than their conventional counterparts. In sum, according to the Leadership Network, “Multisite churches grow faster, have more lay participation, and reach more new believers than single-site churches.”

Putting Multisite to Work for You

While transitioning to multisite offers tremendous potential, church leaders must understand and overcome new obstacles in order to fully harness the power of portable. Topping the list? How to efficiently and effectively communicate with a diffuse congregation. Luckily, there’s a surprisingly simply solution to this challenge: One Call Now, the country’s largest automated notification provider.

How can One Call Now help you position your multisite church for success? For starters, bulletin boards and other on-site messaging modes—already largely out of favor with many modern-day worshippers who prefer digital access—get even closer to obsolescence when integrated into the multisite model. One Call Now lets you reach all of your parishioners—wherever they are and wherever they worship—via their choice of voice, text or email message.

But managing your multisite church involves much more than communicating with congregants. It also mean staying connected with leaders and volunteers. Factor in the increased participation mandated by multiple sites, and One Call Now can easily and exponentially enhance your recruiting efforts.

Your ability to coordinate small groups also gets a boost with One Call Now thanks to an unlimited subgroup feature which allows users to target a precise group of recipients without blasting the entire database. Need to communicate last-minute news which arises before, during or immediately following services—either to worshippers in a single location or to all? One Call Now can do that, too. From last minute closures to impromptu meetings, this innovative broadcast messaging solution ensures that every piece of information you share is both valuable and relevant to recipients.

Last but not least comes the issue of cultivating a cohesive church identity. While participants may be in different locations, they’re very much part of the same ministry. One Call Now can help you achieve a consistency of voice and “brand” which reinforces this connection.

According to Outreach Magazine, 75 out of the country’s 100 largest churches are multisite in nature. The takeaway for church leaders? If growth is your objective, adopting a multisite model may be the key to expanding your ministry.