Megachurches are increasingly spinning off satellite congregations that serve many of the functions of smaller fellowships while maintaining the identity of the “mother” church. Christianity Today (September) reports that close to 1,000 U.S. churches have embraced a “multisite approach,” where the sermons are often beamed into smaller congregations from a preacher on the church’s main campus. Pioneering in the move to satellite campuses is Willow Creek Church near Chicago, the nation’s most prominent megachurch.
The styles of worship and hours held for services in these satellites may be different to appeal to different niches and demographic groups. For instance, Life Church in Oklahoma City has 14,000 members spread out on five different campuses, each with their own pastor to lead activities and build the social networks needed to bind the church together. About 40 percent of the multisite churches use video sermons and teaching from the main campus either by satellite or, more commonly, by DVD.
The rest use roving team teachers or pastors who move from campus to campus. Megachurches have been concerned that attendees driving long distances to services tend to diminish their involvement. The new model permits wider involvement and also sidesteps the space and zoning problems that come with building one huge congregation in saturated suburbs.
(Christianity Today, 465 Gundersen Dr., Carol Stream, IL 60188)