For nearly 40 years, David Chadwick had led the 4,000-member, six-campus ministry Forest Hill Church in Charlotte North Carolina which he had built from a 180-member congregation. As he ended his tenure at the church, however, Chadwick revealed he had started to have doubts about Forest Hill’s multisite model where lead pastors mainly connect with the congregation through video. At the time, said Chadwick, Forest Hill had already begun considering making each of the church’s campus pastors more autonomous. As of 2012, multisite churches, congregations that host worship services at more than one physical location, numbered more than 5,000 in the U.S.
The chief communications officer of Elevation Church in Lake Norman, Suzanne Swift, said, that she is aware that “many multisite churches are considering” transitioning to autonomous congregations. Paul Marzahn, senior pastor of Crossroads Church, a multisite operation in Lakeville, Minnesota, said that he and other ministers have been studying the phenomenon for a while. “It’s a valid concern on a couple of fronts. One is, some fairly large churches have had moral failures, and if you have your whole system based on one person primarily, if that person fails then the whole system comes down,” he said.
The typical multisite church model may not always serve young church leaders well. “How do you train, raise up and even disciple the next generation of teaching pastors and effective pastors? And this kind of sidesteps that approach. It’s sort of like saying we’re not going to take the time to mentor and train and raise up other effective communicators. We’re going to take our best communicators and multiply that by campuses aided by video screens,” he said. Another reason multicampus Churches are not working is that they are not producing disciples. So there are many reasons to reconsider whether the multi campus Church is the way of the future.
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