The Multi-Site Church Movement


A new report by the Leadership Network reports on the current state of churches having more than one site. Below are some of the findings from Multisite Is Multiplying by Warren Bird and Kristin Walters.

There are an estimated 3,000 multisite churches in 46 U.S. states, plus D.C., and six Canadian provinces. Two-thirds of multisites are denominationally connected, with the most represented being Baptist, United Methodist, Christian Church, and Lutheran.
Overview of the Multisite Church Phenomenon
  • One in three multisites added a campus through a merger with an existing congregation or acquisition of a site from a recently closed congregation.
  • Multisites have a 90 percent success rate. Of those closed, location and campus pastor were cited as the top reasons why.
  • Most multisites started at the original site first, offering a variety of venues within their facilities, such as a gym or fellowship hall.
  • Satellite campuses are often nearby the original campus. Over 85 percent of the churches said their nearest campus was less than 30 minutes away from the first campus. Forty percent of those said travel time is 15 minutes or less.
Numbers Needed
  • The average core launch group among churches surveyed was 174 people (75 median).
  • It is not uncommon for a new site to grow 50 percent in the first year, though second year growth is much slower.
  • The average attendance at satellite sites across surveyed churches is 361.
  • Most report they need 100-150 people in attendance to be self-sustaining.
Finances, Facilities, and Leadership
  • The primary funding to begin new sites largely comes from existing campuses.
  • When a new site is launched, the bigger share of money goes to technology costs, followed by facility costs and advertising costs.
  • The overwhelming choice for sites is schools, with other locations ranging from storefronts to movie theaters.
  • Most sites have a campus pastor.
Crossing Culture and Language
  • Fifteen percent of the responding churches are other than white. Most of those describe themselves as multi-ethnic, defined as a context in which no single group comprises 80 percent or more of the church's population.
  • Nearly a quarter of the churches are now offering worship services in languages other than the one spoken at the first campus.
In-Person or Video Preaching
  • Nearly half of multisites report that "almost all" preaching (often called teaching in multisites) is in-person.
  • The larger the overall attendance, the more likely it is that the site will combine video with in-person delivery.
  • Of those that use video, 60 percent have the video delivered by DVD.
Multisite Is Multiplying is available as a free download at Leadership Network, Select Downloads from the Resources tab on the homepage. (A simple registration is required.)
Reprinted by permission from Leading Ideas, a free online newsletter of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary and available at