By Robert Dilday
Some church health observers say the multisite church is becoming the new norm in America. A snapshot of the phenomenon, drawn from research by Generis and the Leadership Network, reveals:
• The total number of multisite churches in America is 8,000. That represents about 3 percent of Protestant churches in the U.S.
• Some 5 million people — about 9 percent of all Protestant churchgoers — worship in a multisite church on a typical weekend.
• About one in three (37 percent) of multisite churches launched a new campus as a result of a merger.
• Only a third of multisite churches are unaffiliated with a denomination. The remaining two thirds affiliate with denominations. The most represented identifiers in church names (in descending order) are Baptist, United Methodist, Disciples of Christ and Lutheran.
• In 88 percent of churches which have launched multiples campuses report increased lay participation.
• The vast majority (87 percent) of pastors on the multiple campuses are trained and hired from within the church.
• On average new campuses grow 28 percent in the first year and 25 percent in the second. Overall, multisite churches are growing an average 14 percent annually.
• Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of multisite churches are less than five years old.
• Churches which launch multiple campuses typically do so only after they reach about 1,000 members, but 41 percent of those churches subsequently say they could have gone multisite with fewer members.
• The number of members of the original church campus who begin attending the new campus ranges from 2 percent to 25 percent.
Source: Leadership Network and Generis