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Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network (CKN), on behalf of Aspen Group and Fishhook, undertook a study of multisite and church plants across the country to discover and define today’s models for expansion. We interviewed a variety of leaders across the country from all sorts of different communities—suburban, rural and urban. We conducted in-depth interviews with 31 pastors and consultants associated with multisite churches, as well as a survey of 222 leaders of multisite and planting churches and networks, mostly senior pastors.

The target audience for this is actively expanding churches, and there are different models that we were interested to discover: What are the different ways in which churches are expanding today, and what does this look like?

Watch the video below for some background on the research.

 

5 Key Findings from More Than Multisite

The result of this research is the new More Than Multisite report. It was a fun project for our team to do because we learned a lot about some of these leading edge churches, what they’re finding, and what they’re experiencing. This is a truly innovative space within local churches. Fifteen to twenty years ago, barely anyone was trying multisite. Now, this is becoming a common way that local churches are doing their work, and so we should understand what’s working and what’s not.

Here are five key findings we discovered in the research:

1. Outreach to a specific area and a strategic vision are much stronger motivations for going multisite or planting churches than accommodating growth.

We went into this research with a hypothesis that multisites and church plants are based primarily on a church’s need to gain more space for more people. What we’ve discovered was that the main reason that pastors described their decisions to go multisite or to plant churches was really around the strategic vision to reach a particular part of a city that they were unable to reach.

2. Leadership development—both of pastors and lay leaders—is a key objective as well as outcome of most new churches.

Leadership development is one of the key things that launching new congregations is accomplishing. That was one of the reasons the churches we surveyed set out to do these other church plants as well as one of the things that was an unintended outcome of that work.

3. Children’s ministry space is a strategic priority for the vast majority of churches.

When we asked churches what their facility priorities were, we learned just how important children’s ministry space is.

4. Broadcast sermons are the exception rather than the norm.

We assumed that video venues were the common expression of multisite. I attend a church in Ventura, California, which is a video venue of another church. I expected that we’d find more of that, but that’s actually the exception rather than the norm.

5. Two-thirds of churches plan to continue their growth strategy, suggesting great enthusiasm for their expansion model and conviction about calling.

We discovered there is a lot of enthusiasm within this category of church leaders for continuing to do this kind of work.

Those are five key findings from this research, and in subsequent posts, I will dive into some of the details of the research. Digital and print versions of the research are both available now, and you can download a free chapter from the report.


David Kinnaman is the author of the bestselling books Good Faith, You Lost Me, and unChristian. He is president of Barna Group, a leading research and communications company that works with churches, nonprofits, and businesses ranging from film studios to financial services. Since 1995, David has directed interviews with nearly one million individuals and overseen hundreds of U.S. and global research studies. He and his wife live in California with their three children. David and his team at Barna also worked with Aspen Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network (CKN) to produce the groundbreaking Making Space for Millennials study.

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