In a 2017 report, ‘Faith and Belief in Australia’, social researcher Mark McCrindle and his team state that in Australia:
45% of Australians identify with Christianity
15% of Australians who identify with Christianity go to church at least monthly
7% of Australians who identify with Christianity are active practisers of Christianity
Australia contains a total of 183 people groups
To me, these stats prove one basic thought – there are a lot more people to be reached with the love of Jesus in this nation. I’m sure these figures are close to the experience in many nations, where the identification with the Christian Faith is not matching the numbers of people finding their way into a meaningful and regular Christian community experience. In fact, it would seem the number of younger people (Millennials and Gen Zers) who are no longer attending church or in some cases actually ‘deconstructing’ their faith, is growing rapidly.
There are undoubtedly many issues underlying these current stats. But one of the universal answers must be the access to, the reach from and the effectiveness of the local church. The multisite model, when understood and implemented well can be part of the solution to the need for a thriving, local and relevant Church community.
The purpose of this 3-part series of articles is to outline the basic ‘ingredients’ of a healthy multisite church.
Before we get to those ‘Multisite Essentials’, I thought it would be good to revisit something that I believe is worthy of emphasizing and is an underlying Biblical principle behind multisite.
Expansion is the new Increase
Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.
As a movement we’ve expanded globally and nationally. We have almost 600 churches in 59 countries. We are also expanding into new regions! However, at a local level I think we need to understand the difference between growth and expansion.
Most pastors are attempting to grow their churches. Larger churches equal more people reached, helped, discipled, and impacted for the kingdom of God. In many cases this growth is happening or focused to happen in one location. But in reality, not every individual church can keep growing in an unlimited way. Perhaps the opportunity that is appearing around us is the possibility of ‘growing’ not by looking up (larger individual churches) but by looking ‘out’ and starting new, smaller congregations in a suburb or town close by. So, as we ‘expand’, the eventual outcome is growth. To enlarge the ‘Place’ of our tent.
We’ve expanded to the nations but it’s time to reach the neighbourhoods!
The Lord gave Joshua a promise…
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.
Like Joshua, we too need to get the ‘soles of our feet’, i.e. more locations, into the cities and towns that God has called us to.
For this to be accomplished, I believe we need to be on the front foot of expansion and not on the back foot of passive maintenance. Part of the future to reaching our city and surrounding towns is firstly by starting new congregations.
The early church was forced into expansion through persecution. That persecution dispersed the believers and eventually led to expansion through the starting of many more new congregations in cities outside of the city of Jerusalem! Paul the Apostle was called by God to expand even further into the dispersed communities and of course the unreached Gentile cities in the known world at that time.
Apostolic expansion is all about expansion by intention.
This is nothing other than a new type of church planting. Nothing has changed. We still need more churches to reach more people…the vision hasn’t changed!
This is just a more effective way of starting and a more effective way of reaching people!
So, if you are convinced that this is a model that God has called you to, let’s have a look at some of the basic principles that need to be in place to do it as effectively as possible…
… in the next blog post! See you in Part 2/3.