Read an Excerpt
You Want a Revolution?
Meet several highly successful multi-site churches
These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also. --- ACTS 17:6 ESV
It is coming . . . a movement of God. Some even call it a revolution.
On Sunday morning at Seacoast Church, where I (Geoff) serve on staff in Charleston, South Carolina, a band launches into a hard-driving worship chorus as lyrics and background images are projected on screens and television monitors throughout the auditorium. Everyone begins to sing along with the worship team.
This describes the experience at many contemporary churches,
except that this scene happens eighteen times each weekend in nine locations around the state, all of which are known as Seacoast Church.
Using many different bands and worship leaders, Seacoast's eighteen nearly identical weekend ser vices represent the look of a church that chose not to fight city hall in order to construct a bigger building.
We instead continued to reach new people by developing additional campuses.
At another church across the country, a congregation just north of
San Diego sings 'How Great Thou Art' in Traditions, one of six venues on the same church campus. North Coast Church in Vista, California,
developed six different worship atmospheres, all within a few feet of each other. Traditions is more intimate and nostalgic, while other venues range from country gospel to a coffeehouse feel to vibrating,
big subwoofer attitude.
The elements unifying these six on-site venues are the message (one venue features in-person preaching, and the others use videocasts)
and the weekly adult small groups, whose discussion questions center on the sermon that everyone heard, no matter which venue they attended. North Coast has now developed multiple venues on additional campuses, so that on a typical weekend in early 2006, worshipers chose between more than twenty different ser vices spread across five campuses.
Over in Texas, Ed Young Jr., senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, preaches every Sunday morning on four campuses
--- Grapevine, Uptown Dallas, Plano, and Alliance --- all at the same time. Ed delivers his Saturday night message in person in the main sanctuary on the Grapevine campus. It is videotaped and viewed the following morning by congregations at the other venues via LCD
projectors and giant projection screens, framed by live music and a campus pastor. 'We decided we could reach more people and save a huge amount of money by going to where the people are and doing smaller venues instead of building a larger worship center in Grapevine,'
In downtown Chicago at New Life Bridgeport, a small church meets in a century-old former United Church of Christ facility. The pastor,
Luke Dudenhoffer, preaches a sermon that he's worked on with up to ten other pastors across the city. Each pastor leads a satellite congregation of New Life Community Church, which is known as one church in many locations.
At Community Chris tian Church in Chicagoland, eight different drama teams perform the same sketch at eight different locations.
Then up to three different teachers deliver a message they've developed collaboratively. Most ser vices have an in-person preacher, though some sermons are videocasts.
These churches, and more than 1,500 churches like them across the country, are discovering a new model for doing church. Going beyond additional ser vice times and larger buildings, churches are expanding into multiple venues and locations, and many of them are seeing increased evangelism and even exponential growth as a result. The approach of taking one church to multiple sites seems to be the beginning of a revolution in how church is done in North America and around the world.
When four university computers were linked together for the first time on something called ARPANET in the fall of 1969,
there was very little press coverage of the event.
Aside from the scientists working on the project, no one considered this event revolutionary; it was just an adaptation of concepts that had existed for many years. In spite of such simple beginnings, ARPANET,
known today as the Internet, has revolutionized almost every aspect of our lives in the twenty-first century --- from how people get sports scores to how they buy airline tickets to how they size up a church before visiting it.
Revolutions often begin with little fanfare. They are usually built on concepts that have existed for many years and are seldom recognized in the beginning as revolutionary. The measure of a revolution is its impact, not its origins.
That is why we believe the multi-site church movement is revolutionary.
The concept of having church in more than one location isn't new or revolutionary; the roots of multi-site go back to the church of
Acts, which had to scatter due to persecution. Elmer Towns points out that the original Jerusalem church 'was one large group (celebration),
and many smaller groups (cells). . . . The norm for the New Testament church included both small cell groups and larger celebration groups.'1 Likewise,
Aubrey Malphurs observes that Corinth and other first-century churches were multi-site, as a number of multi-site house churches were considered to be part of one citywide church.2
The approach of taking one church to multiple sites seems to be the beginning of a revolution in how church is done in North
America and around the world.
The measure of a revolution is its impact, not its origins.
What is a multi-site church? A multi-site church is one church meeting in multiple locations --- different rooms on the same campus, different locations in the same region, or in some instances, different cities, states, or nations. A multi-site church shares a common vision, budget, leadership,
What does a multi-site church look like? A multi-site church can resemble any of a wide variety of models. For some churches, having multiple sites involves only a worship ser vice at each location; for others, each location has a full range of support ministries. Some churches use videocast sermons (recorded or live); others have in-person teaching on-site.
Some churches maintain a similar worship atmosphere and style at all their campuses, and others allow or invite variation.
What kind of church uses the multi-site approach?