When a church has multiple campuses but still identifies as one church, it is known as a multi-site church. Often churches start a second site to help accommodate church growth or to have a presence in multiple communities. The precise structure of each multi-site church varies. Some function more like church plants—the services and teaching pastor are different, but each location studies the same passage of Scripture, and the staff of each location collaborate and work together. Others are more like satellite locations with a video feed of sermons. The worship band is likely live and the video feed may or may not bounce between campuses during the service. Other multi-site churches are somewhat of a mix, perhaps sharing teaching the majority of weekends through video feed but having separate campus pastors dedicated to the specific needs of that local church community.
Is it biblical to have a multi-site church?
There is nothing explicitly biblical or unbiblical about a multi-site church. As with any church set up, there are both advantages and challenges for multi-site churches.
Advantages of a multi-site church include being able to minister to multiple neighborhoods and engender the feel of a smaller church while still having access to the resources of a more established organization. There may also be less reliance on one pastor as multi-site churches tend to be more of a team effort, and operating costs may also be lower.
One challenge to a multi-site church can be a struggle for unity between the mother church and the satellite churches. There may also be a perceived or real lack of a personal touch, particularly if video feeds completely replace pastors or other leaders. The church also needs to balance the different needs of unique communities and congregations, while still functioning as one whole.
Each group of church leaders should, with prayer, decide what is best for their staff, congregation, and neighborhood. The Bible does not specify how a church should expand. As the early church did, all congregations should devote "themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).
Primarily, the church should preach the gospel and make disciples, exercising spiritual gifts:
"...to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" (Ephesians 4:12–16).Whether we do this in small congregations or large, multiple sites of one church, or several different churches, the important thing is that God is made known.
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