3 Accelerating Trends in Local Churches Today
- More multi-site and multi-venue churches. It does not seem that long ago that a multi-site church in America was a rare exception. Indeed, many viewed this approach with suspicion because they were uncertain about its efficacy or theological foundations. Today, the multi-site church seems commonplace and normative. The acceleration of the multi-site church is taking place as smaller churches begin to adopt the approach. This strategy was largely adopted by megachurches just a few years ago. Today, churches of 300 in attendance and even smaller have joined the multi-site strategy.
- More multi-preacher/teacher churches. As a multi-site churches have increased in number, so have the number of churches with more than one regular preacher or teacher. But the multi-site movement alone cannot explain the accelerated growth of this phenomenon. Again, its adoption by smaller churches has increased the growth rate more than any one factor. I can think of dozens of congregations under 200 in attendance that have more than one preacher or teacher.
- The rapid increase in large churches functioning as quasi-denominations. The functions of denominations have historically included missions funding; funding of theological education; providing of Bible study and other resources; and guidance in both polity and ethical issues. Today, many large churches carry out, to some degree, all of these functions. The acceleration of this development seems to have three sources. First, many churches are generally dissatisfied with the direction of the denomination of which they are a part. Second, most denominations have fewer funding dollars to carry out their functions. Third, many struggling churches have elected to become acquired by another church, essentially making the acquiring church act as an oversight body of other churches.