Multisite Church | Christian Standard Interview

August 31, 2009 — 5 Comments

If you have been interested in the multisite discussion as a missional church, then I’d recommend reading the article below.  Todd Wilson does a great job of highlighting the upside of multisite planting, and a holistic perspective on how it fits with church planting strategy.

Christian Standard Interview – Todd Wilson on Multisite

I think the theory of the article is spot on, but there is one key phrase in the article that a church must wrestle with:

If you take anything less than a very healthy process, whether it’s your children’s process, newcomer assimilation process, worship process—any process you have—when you copy it, if it’s unhealthy, it may become even more unhealthy than the original. On the one hand, your church might be growing rapidly beyond the current capacity of your leadership and systems. On top of that, you may be copying less than vibrant and healthy processes and systems. The result can be sideways energy that further slows you down.

The key to a successful multisite launch will be the health of your existing organization, which is a good motivation to do some deep assessment prior to launching.

Great thoughts to consider!

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

5 responses to Multisite Church | Christian Standard Interview

  1. Sounds like Multiplicity to me…
    A few Questions:

    How do you measure healthy? and When does a process become healthy enough to recreate?

    How can you insure that multi-site is a church planting strategy instead of a simply a church growth strategy?

    • Measuring healthy is a good question. I’d say when you have proven the ability to translate DNA to the base-level missionary structure of your church, and that it is replicated on the smallest contexts. It proves you have a good process for leadership development and DNA replication.

      Secondly, I think multisite is valid for both church growth AND church planting, and you can ensure a church planting strategy through casting the initial vision of replicating sites and a process for the development of autonomous churches. If it is a part of your DNA, and you cast the vision well, it ought to be a part of what you are doing.

      Lastly, I think you need to be willing to have sites fail, and understand what criteria would constitute failure. If you’re unwilling to shut down a site, I think you have lost the impetus for mission and gone to maintenance mode.

  2. Whew– Todd great to point out that paragraph. People, pay attention, that could save you a lot of heartache. My old church in Philly rushed into replicating some things that weren’t healthy, in that they weren’t systemically mature, and didn’t have cultures worth replicating.

    We should have known they weren’t healthy (in the multisite replication sense) when we didn’t have enough leaders, or a good culture within those systems (I’m talking about “system” things like music/worship, childcare, setup/takedown) as well as small groups (or whatever you want to call them).

    It is crucial to honestly ask “Is what we have now worth replicating?” It’s a question that would have saved our third site from burning through a lot of visitors, volunteers, and staff, and ultimately tanking.

    • Thanks for this…we’re in the process of doing the assessment piece, and it is vital to making sure that what we do is healthy replication, not just expansion. It’s a good process to expose weakness, and has certainly helped us understand our body much better.

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