I’ve always been a bit skeptical of the multisite trend. Part of it’s the model. It feels too much like a franchise. Part of it’s the approach. Video preachers and hi-tech worship. Part of it’s the size. Can thousands of people spread across multiple campuses really be one church? And part of it (if I’m being honest) is just plain old jealously.
However, I had a change in perspective last week after hearing Kevin Penry speak. Kevin is one of the lead ministers at LifeChurch.tv. These guys practically invented the multisite concept and they’re one of the largest such churches in the country. He was explaining why they moved away from a traditional model and tried something different.
It had to do with an intense passion for the lost and this chart:
The yellow shaded area represents the generation in which we live (give or take a few years). It’s from 1950 to 2050. You can see that it’s a relatively short time period and yet, it’s not insignificant. A lot can be done for the kingdom in 100 years. Many lives can be influenced in the span of time. Then he overlaid that chart with the actual data.
Wow. Look at that! We live in a very unique time in history. World population is exploding which means there are more people than ever before who need to hear the good news. How is the church responding? Are we growing at anything close to this rate? I don’t have the actual numbers on that but I kind of doubt it.
What I see is a population that’s growing exponentially while most churches remain content to grow incrementally. After all, we don’t want to grow too fast because we’ll lose control. We won’t be able to manage the change. Things will get messy. We might lose a few members. So most of us are content with maintaining while the population around us is multiplying.
That’s not acceptable. We need new churches and new campuses and anything else that gives us an opportunity share the good news of Jesus with more people. The Great Commission demands it! And here’s the kicker. We have the resources to do it. If every congregation committed to planting one church or multiplying by one campus in the next 5 years imagine the impact. We have the resources. The question is do we have the commitment? The vision? The courage to try something different?
I know there are tons of issues to work through. I know it’s not that simple. I know these multiplying models aren’t perfect and haven’t stood the test of time yet. But I’d rather go and do than sit and criticize. It’s time to start thinking in new directions. Christianity is always a generation away from becoming extinct, but when you consider the current pace of population growth, we may not have that much time.