November 29, 2023

New Multisite Church Data & Trends: Q4 2023 Unstuck Church Report – Episode 324 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

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    Quarterly Unstuck Church Report

Multisite Insights from the Q4 2023 Unstuck Church Report

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Every quarter, The Unstuck Group compiles all the data we’ve collected to monitor trends in churches in the United States. For this quarter’s report, we are specifically focusing on trends in multisite churches

The report is a reflection of more than 100 multisite churches that The Unstuck Group has served through the years and more than 80 ministries that participated in a multisite survey conducted in October 2023. This provides a very current snapshot of multisite churches of all shapes and sizes.


Multisite is a great strategy for healthy, thriving, growing churches to reach more people for Jesus. However, multisite is not for every church. (In fact, if the data we collected is accurate, it’s probably not for the majority of churches who currently find themselves on the declining side of the church life cycle).

In this episode, Amy and I break down new trends in multisite churches and explain why some multisite strategies succeed and others fail. We’ll unpack:

  • General characteristics of multisite churches
  • Data on identical vs. autonomous campuses
  • Trends on why multisite campuses close
  • Why not all multisite strategies produce the same results
Almost half of the multisite churches surveyed indicated they are also involved in church planting outside of their multisite strategy. [episode 324] #unstuckchurch Share on X Churches most often cited "leadership challenges" as the primary reason for closing a campus or letting it become an independent church. [episode 324] #unstuckchurch Share on X Of the churches surveyed, 38% deliver teaching primarily through video and 25% use a combination of video and in-person teaching. Only 27% of churches use a teaching model where the campus pastors teach at their locations. [episode 324]… Share on X Churches with more identical campuses reported attendance growth of 25% in the last year, compared to more autonomous campuses that grew by 13%. In other words, churches with identical campuses are growing almost twice as fast. [episode 324]… Share on X

This report includes special financial and staffing insights from Christian Financial Resources, such as:

“Managing staffing budgets for multisite campuses can be complicated depending on how the funds of the campus are managed—either independently or through a central office. Christian Financial Resources recommends staff expenses below 50% of their actual income (not their budget). One way to do this is using conservative percentages, plus setting aside at-risk/performance-based money.”

Subscribe to the Quarterly Unstuck Church Report:

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This Episode is Sponsored by Christian Financial Resources:

Since 1980, Christian Financial Resources (CFR) has financed more than 950 ministry projects for independent churches in the United States. As your church grows, CFR is equipped to support your vision and your ministry with financial services tailored to meet the needs of independent churches—including capital campaigns, stewardship services, and loans for construction, building purchase, or real estate acquisition.

As your ministry continues to grow, consider how CFR can help your church cultivate a generosity mentality and raise more capital for your next project. Click here to learn more.

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Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. Every quarter, The Unstuck Group releases fresh data on churches, as well as some key learnings in The Unstuck Church Report. On this week’s podcast, Tony and Amy share their thoughts on what we’re learning from the data about the most recent multisite church trends. If you’re new to The Unstuck Church Podcast, before you listen, stop and go to and subscribe to get the episode show notes in your email. When you do, you’re gonna get resources to support each week’s episode, our Leader Conversation Guide and access to our podcast resource archive. Again, that’s to subscribe. Now, before we get into this week’s conversation, here’s a word from Tony.

Tony (00:54):

Is your church contemplating the idea of constructing or expanding its facility? Engaging in a capital campaign facilitated by Christian Financial Resources can greatly assist your ministry as you embark on a transformative journey of stewardship. CFR stands ready to help accelerate your church’s vision and ministry by offering tailored financial services, specifically catered to independent churches. By partnering with CFR on your capital campaign, your church will benefit from personalized coaching and a guided roadmap. If you want to grow generosity in your church and raise funds for your next capital project, reach out today by visiting

Amy (01:42):

Well, hey, Tony, good to see you. I am super excited about this episode because it’s about our quarter four Unstuck Church Report, and it is hot off the presses. Today, we’re gonna be talking about the recent release of your Unstuck Church Report, which captures, man, current trends that we are seeing in churches, and we’re gonna dive into that report in just a minute. But, hey, it’s good to see you. You’ve been gone this past week. Where were you?

Tony (02:05):

That’s right. Actually, Emily joined me because it was our first time to go to Costa Rica, and it wasn’t just vacation, though we did have a couple of days by the pool and then some sightseeingand things like that. But, we actually had the opportunity to work with a church in Jaco, which is on the west coast of Costa Rica.

Amy (02:26):


Tony (02:26):

So, Amy, I know you’ve been to Costa Rica, serving a church there as well and in not the not too distant past. But it was fun to engage with churches. Of course, both the churches that we’ve served in Costa Rica are primarily English-speaking churches.

Amy (02:42):


Tony (02:43):

But it was, it was fun to serve that pastor and that church and to talk about what God has next for the future of Horizon Churchin Jaco in Costa Rica. So that was fun.

Amy (02:54):

That’s nice you got to go to the coast. I think I was right in the middle of Costa Rica. So, no monkeys or sloths for me, just traffic and craziness.

Tony (03:03):

Well, Emily and I did get a chance to go to one of the national parks, and we saw some monkeys in the wild. And, Amy, I think I could just watch monkeys all day long. They’re just fascinating creatures.

Amy (03:15):

They are funny, but I’ve heard they’ve stolen some purses and bags along the way, so you have to be careful.

Tony (03:21):


Amy (03:21):

Alright, well, I’m glad you’re back. Glad you’re back safe. And let’s get back to the report. So, Tony, this quarter’s report, it’s a little unique. Tell us about that.

Tony (03:31):

Yeah. Well, every quarter, of course, we compile data that we’ve collected to monitor trends in churches in the U.S. and around the world, including great churches in Costa Rica. But for this quarter’s report, we are specifically focusing on trends in multisite churches. And this is fun, Amy, because this is the first time we’ve actually done any research with that specific focus.

Amy (03:54):


Tony (03:54):

And related to that, I think we have some fascinating findings to share over these next several minutes. But, before we get to the content, we can also celebrate a milestone, Amy. Now, there are over 50,000 church leaders that are engaging in our Unstuck church content every month. So, that’s pretty fun.

Amy (04:12):

That’s great.

Tony (04:14):

And several thousand leaders are subscribed specifically to this Quarterly Unstuck Church Report. And if you’re not subscribed yet, you’re welcome to do that. You can subscribe at However, this specific report, it is, it’s a reflection of more than a hundred multisite churches that our team has served through the years. And, now, we’ve collected more than, we’ve collected data from more than 80 ministries that have participated in this specific multisite survey, which we conducted just a short time ago in October. By the way, if you’re curious, the average in-person attendance of the churches that participated in this multisite survey was over 2,700 people. And that included churches ranging in size from under 500 in attendance. And by the way, that’s not, we would encourage churches to be a little bit larger than that.

Amy (05:12):

That’s right.

Tony (05:13):

We’ll talk about that in a moment. And it, it also included, churches over 20,000 in attendance. And this is what’s exciting. The average increase in attendance year-over-year for all these multisite churches was close to 20% and over 180 baptisms in the last 12 months. So, that’s, that’s, that’s the fun part. That’s what we wanna celebrate is churches continuing to carry out the mission God’s called them to and because of that they’re seeing people meet and follow Jesus. So, pretty fun stuff, Amy. But we’re gonna dive into a lot of specifics here related to multisite strategy. So, this is gonna be a fun conversation.

Amy (05:54):

Yeah, I love it. When I read it, Tony, I was really struck by your opening thoughts on the most important data point included in this quarter’s report. Will you unpack that for us?

Tony (06:03):

Yeah. So, I mentioned in the report the most important data point was this: 95% of the churches were experiencing attendance growth before they launched their first multisite location. And I shared that stat because it confirms what our team at The Unstuck Group has learned through the years. Multisite is a great strategy for healthy, thriving, growing churches to reach more people for Jesus. However, multisite is not a growth strategy. So if a church has plateaued or it’s in decline, multisite is, it doesn’t turn that trend around. In fact, what we’ve noticed is that, if anything, multisite will actually accelerate decline in stuckness. If you, if you’re not already experiencing health as a church. Multisite is also not a strategy to initiate needed ministry changes. Amy, not that churches haven’t tried this, but for many pastors, launching a multisite location can sometimes feel like the only option that’s available when change can’t happen at the original location. And so we’ve seen this; pastors have concluded if we can’t change our reach strategy, our worship services, our spiritual formation strategy, our brand at the original location, then, we’re gonna launch a second location that will give us the freedom to make those changes. And in case you’re wondering, that, that approach rarely works unless your real goal is to plant a new independent church. And multisite strategy is not for easy growth. You can ask any senior pastor if ministry was easier or harder when they were just a single-location church. And I can guarantee you that almost every pastor leading a multisite church has probably wished that they could go back in time, go back to the days that they were leading a one-location church because multisite is complex. Even with the clearest strategy and the cleanest structure, it’s going to be messy, and it’s going to lead to ongoing organizational tension. So, that’s why that 95% number is so important.

Amy (08:14):


Tony (08:14):

These multisite churches were fulfilling their mission before they launched a second location. These churches were effectively reaching people for Jesus before they opened their first multisite campus. These churches had teaching and services that were drawing new people before they ventured into multisite strategy. And these churches were multiplying disciples of Christ before they decided to open an additional location. And, Amy, as we’ve talked about previously, here’s what this also means. Multisite is not for every church. In fact, based on what we’ve seen in previous data, we know that a lot of churches are on that declining side of the church life cycle. And if that’s your church, you are not ready for multisite. You, we do wanna help you get unstuck. We want you to continue to move forward with a mission that’s impacting people’s lives. But your first step is not multisite. And so we just wanna make sure before you take that step, you’re part of the 95%. You’re part of the healthy, thriving, growing churches. Those are the churches that need to be considering multisite in a way that will continue to help them multiply locations but also multiply the number of disciples in their church.

Amy (09:30):

And that plays into our Unstuck Multisite Checkpoints. We say you replicate who you are. And so if you’re not in a place of health, don’t multiply yet. Get back to a place of health.

Tony (09:41):

That’s right.

Tony (09:42):

Well, Tony, with that introduction, let’s actually dive into some of the findings from this quarter’s report. The report, of course, includes a lot of data that we won’t get to in today’s episode and that includes some of the interesting trends and analysis on general multisite characteristics, multisite leadership, staffing and structure in churches with multiplications. But, where I’d like to start today is with some of the specific multisite strategies that we researched. Tony, what stood out to you with the most recent survey data regarding the multisite strategies?

Tony (10:12):

Well, I just referenced this a moment ago, but this is one attribute of multisite churches that stood out to me. Generally, churches grow very large before they launch their first multisite campus. And what the data showed is churches grew to between somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people on average. And Amy, as you know, that data is consistent with what our team has recognized through the years. Churches need to be large enough that they can afford to send out a significant portion of their congregation. And we usually help churches to think about maybe you’re sending out 10% of your congregation, 10% of your volunteers, your leaders, your giving to launch a healthy new location. Churches need to be big enough where they can send out all of that leadership, all of those volunteers, all of those resources and still maintain health at their original location. And because of that, we typically recommend that churches reach a minimum of a thousand people in attendance before they’re considering multisite. Love it when churches, a large churches or midsize churches or small churches are considering multisite in their future. But getting to 1,000, that’s pretty critical. And, of course, the more growth that you can get at that original location before going multisite, really the healthier both their original and new locations will be post-launch. And that’s, that’s the goal.

Amy (11:44):


Tony (11:44):

A second characteristic that jumped out to me was that many multisite churches are also committed to church planting. In fact, almost half of the churches indicated that they’re also involved in church planting outside of their multisite strategy. And that’s a strong indication that multisite churches are just, they’re committed to multiplication whatever strategy is going to be most effective for a particular community.

Amy (12:12):


Tony (12:12):

So whether that’s another community in their region or somewhere else in the U.S. or somewhere else around the world, just recognizing in some instances, church planting is the better approach rather than engaging in multisite strategy. And then, another characteristic that stood out, it’s just the number of churches that have additional locations in the pipeline. In fact, one-third of the churches surveyed indicated that they anticipate launching another camp, campus in the next 12 months. And I just, I find that to be remarkable.

Amy (12:48):

Yeah. I think a lot of people will be surprised that many churches who are currently multisite are working to launch a new location really in the next year.

Tony (12:56):

Yeah. And it is, I mean, you see that information in the data and it’s like, oh, that, that jumps out to you. But, Amy, to be truthful, when we engage with healthy, thriving churches, almost every one of those churches, multisite is on their minds.

Amy (13:13):

It is.

Tony (13:13):

And it’s funny because through the years we’ve heard from the experts, if you will, that, you know, multisite’s kind of a fad. And once this fad passes, you know, we’ll get back to single-location churches again. And, of course, what we have experienced is just there, the, when the church gets healthy, when they experience growth, they don’t wanna just stop at one location. They wanna take what’s working, what’s been impactful for them as a church and replicate that in another locations. Something else that stood out to me from the data: Multisite churches lean more towards identical locations, and if there’s any campus autonomy, it’s just, it’s just a little bit. And we’re gonna jump into this in more detail in a moment, but it’s interesting; less than one in 10 multisite churches flip that model. And so where most churches are identical, only one in 10 multisite churches flip the model, giving campuses a lot of autonomy. So, yeah, Amy.

Amy (14:17):

I just think it’s so good to finally have that data because we have sensed that for so long. In fact, even when we created our multisite model, it’s because it seemed like all of them were equally being used across, you know, churches. But this shows us that one in 10 or only one in 10 are flipping that model.

Tony (14:34):

That’s right. And again, we’ll talk about that specific attribute a little bit more in a moment. Lastly, and kind of related to that, this is what the data shows. Video teaching is the primary method for message delivery across locations in multisite churches. So, here are the specifics. Of the churches surveyed, 38% deliver teaching primarily through video with rare exceptions. And 25% of, of these multisite churches use some combination of video message delivery and in-person teaching. But the minority of churches, only 27% of churches are using a teaching model where the campus pastors teach at their location on a consistent basis. So, again, Amy, I think what we’ve heard in the past is, you know, it’s about an equal split. So, you know, half the churches are using video; half the churches are using in-person teaching. In other words, the campus pastors are the primary teachers, but this new data indicates really most multisite churches are leaning on video teaching.

Amy (15:42):

Yeah. Using video to deliver the teaching is the primary method, but I actually thought that percentage would be even higher. And that’s just my gut and experience talking. You know, Tony, we work with two kinds of multisite churches. I think first we work with churches that are growing and expanding through multisite. And those can be growing churches that are launching multisite for the first time. And then, also, growing multisite churches that are planning for their future locations. And the second type of multisite churches we work with are what we call multi-stuck churches. Meaning they’ve launched a campus or two, but now they’re stuck. And typically, the model is fracturing, and financially things aren’t sustainable. And we’ve helped those churches untangle their model, help them maybe even close a location or even unmultisite altogether. And I, I share that because a difference between those two groups is commonly their teaching method, at least in my experience. And, and here’s what we’ve learned about delivering messages via video. First, it works. And Tony, I can’t count how many times we’ve heard teaching on video won’t work for our community. Teaching on video won’t work for our community, but I think we’ve seen just about every type of community in which video teaching has worked.

Tony (16:53):

Yeah. And, and it is every type of community. I mean, we’re working with some great multisite churches that are in the inner city or in the suburbs, but we’ve worked with some great multisite churches that are in very rural communities and leveraging teaching on video in order to continue to grow the impact of their ministry.

Amy (17:15):

That’s right.

Tony (17:15):

But Amy, you had some other thoughts here.

Amy (17:17):

Yeah. Second, multisite churches that use video teaching are less likely to end up as separate churches in the long run. We’ve seen, you know, news articles, this multisite church is now gonna go independent with all their locations, but I don’t think they intended that to happen. I think it was a result of their model. But when there’s video teaching, I just think it maintains the unity of vision and the consistency of that church’s culture. And then third, as I just mentioned, I think multisite churches that use video teaching are more likely to scale beyond two or three locations. It’s not, we don’t work with too many multi-stuck churches that are stuck and can’t scale that are using video teaching. And, and lastly, the thing that comes to mind is just when multisite churches use video teaching, we have to remember that campus pastors are then freed up to connect with their congregation, their staff, their volunteers. They, they just have more capacity to lead and pastor their church. So, again, I’m so glad the data finally shows the differences.

Tony (18:17):

Yeah. Amy, and on that last point, we’ve talked a lot about this a lot. It, you know, you mentioned the financial sustainability. One of the challenge, challenges is that when the campus pastors are carrying a lot of the teaching load, it almost forces churches to make sure that they have another pastor on staff at that location to provide all the leadership, all, all of the shepherding that needs to happen on Sunday morning when the campus pastor is, of course, they’re focused on teaching the message. You still need another pastor at that location to help guide all of the efforts of the rest of the ministry that are happening on Sunday morning and beyond. And so, yeah, I couldn’t agree more. We’ve seen it time and time again. Video teaching really is the, I think, the strongest way to continue to replicate what has brought success and impact to your ministry in the past and make sure that’s delivered in the same way to all the other locations, as well.

Darren (19:20):

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Amy (21:46):

Well, Tony, you just talked about the number of churches that lean towards more identical locations rather than giving those campuses a lot of autonomy. And, you know, this is always a point of tension for churches that are considering a multisite strategy. Would you be willing to explain in just a little more detail what you found in the analysis of churches with identical campuses compared to those with more autonomous campuses?

Tony (22:08):

Yeah, Amy, this was really fascinating but certainly not surprising. When analyzing the data from this multisite survey, we looked at several key factors that might distinguish the churches that were experiencing the most health from their multi, multisite strategy. And by the way, we’re looking at two things here, two key things: growth in the church and the number of baptisms. And by the way, the vast majority of multisite churches are experiencing both. Attendance is increasing, and people are saying yes to Jesus. So, the model really does work. However, it does appear that how churches approach their multisite strategy, it makes a difference. And the biggest differentiator appears to be this degree to which campuses are identical or autonomous. As I explained in the report, multisite churches that have more identical campuses could be compared to your favorite franchise restaurant. No matter the location, the various restaurants have the same branding. They have relatively similar building design. They have a familiar dining room environment. Every location you go into, the menu is the same. The customer service experience is essentially the same. And the quality of the meal and how it’s delivered to the customer is almost identical from location to location. Amy, what’s your favorite franchise restaurant?

Amy (23:32):

Gotta go for Chick-fil-A. I was a Minnesota girl who didn’t have it until I joined The Unstuck Group.

Tony (23:37):

Yeah, yeah.

Amy (23:37):

So, that’s my fave.

Tony (23:39):

There you go. More autonomous campuses, on the other hand, they’re like independent coffee shops. They all sell coffee, but the branding is different. The vibe in the coffee shop is rather unique. The menu is a little bit different from coffee shop to coffee shop, and the experience for the customers may be distinctive for from one shop to the next. And most importantly, there’s no central headquarters providing support to those independent coffee shops. Amy, do you have a favorite local coffee shop in your community?

Amy (24:10):

I don’t. I’m not a coffee girl.

Tony (24:13):

Oh. Well, I’m gonna give a shout out to Crazy Love. It’s a coffee shop here in Roswell, Georgia, right downtown Roswell, which is a beautiful place, by the way, if, if you’re ever in the area. But Crazy Love is probably my favorite, non-chain, local coffee shop in our community. But those are just two examples of some of the key differences that we also see between churches that identified themselves as more identical. In other words, they have more identical campuses compared to those multisite churches that indicated that they are more autonomous. In other words, every campus is a little bit different, in some cases, a lot of bit different. And this is what we’ve see, what we see when we compare the identical campuses to the autonomous campuses. First of all, the identical campuses, those churches are experiencing more growth. Churches with more identical campuses have experienced attendance growth of 25% year-over-year. On the other hand, churches with more autonomous campuses, they’re still growing, but they were only growing by 13% in the last year. In other words, churches with more identical campuses are growing almost twice as fast. Churches with identical campuses are also seeing more baptisms. These churches are baptizing a higher percentage of people when compared to the churches that have autonomous campuses. And, Amy, I want you to chime in on this one. And this one was a little bit surprising to me, but churches with more identical campuses have twice as many volunteer leaders. And these are, these are volunteers that are leading teams or small groups compared to the more autonomous campuses.

Amy (26:01):

Yeah, I bet that stat got the attention of our listeners.

Tony (26:04):


Amy (26:04):

Because post-Covid volunteer engagement, it remains, I think, one of the biggest challenges churches are facing. And you’d think, Tony, that multisite would do the opposite, right?

Tony (26:14):


Amy (26:14):

That it would thin out the volunteers and the volunteer leaders rather than draw out people to use their gifts. But the data confirms what we’ve seen for years. Multisite actually causes people to raise their hands and join a team. You know, they sign up. It’s something new. They wanna bring their church to a new community. So, anyways, why don’t you keep going with those key differences?

Tony (26:34):

Yeah. Also, interesting to see that the, where there’s more identical campuses, those churches are more intentional about leadership development. So, churches with more identical campuses were more likely to have a formal leadership development strategy for, for volunteers. Again, it was almost twice as frequently than the church, the churches that are more autonomous. And that was, again, interesting to me. I think what it indicates is because churches aren’t having to create independent ministries at the different campuses, they have more resources to focus on overall leadership development for the entire church.

Amy (27:14):


Tony (27:14):

So I love that that came out. Probably stands to reason, the churches with more identical campuses have more central staff because they’re supporting ministry at all locations when compared to churches with more autonomous campuses. And then, lastly, we just talked about this; churches that are more identical are more oftentimes using video teaching. In fact, churches are three times more likely to use video teaching for message delivery in these more ident, in this more identical model. And that doesn’t mean that video teaching causes faster growth and more baptisms, but there’s certainly a correlation when looking at the data. I mean, the churches that are leveraging video teaching are seeing more growth, and they’re seeing more baptisms. And, Amy, you know, in our previous podcast content, we, we’ve talked about the fact that there are many ways to do multisite, but the fact that not all multisite strategies produce the same results. It, it would be like saying that there are many ways to parent our kids. And that’s true. But, all parenting approaches don’t produce the same results. Some parenting approaches increase the odds that we will raise kids and equip them to become healthy, successful, thriving adults. They don’t guarantee that, but they do increase the probability. And likewise, some multisite approaches increase the odds that we will have healthy, thriving ministry that will reproduce disciples of Jesus. But here’s the flip side; this is what we’ve learned through the years. Some multisite approaches increase the odds that you will create more complexity. It will overburden existing staff and volunteer leaders. Some multisite approaches, you’re going to experience overstaffing. You’re gonna spend more money. Some multisite approaches will foster division, create confusion about who you are in the community. And most importantly, some multisite approaches will get your church off mission.

Amy (29:12):

That’s really good. Tony, I think, lastly, let’s talk about churches that have tried multisite strategy and experienced some of those challenges. And I think, specifically, let’s talk about the instances when churches had to close multisite campuses. What did we learn from this recent research on that topic?

Tony (29:30):

Well, Amy, needless to say, we’ve encountered many churches through the years that have attempted multisite strategies that unfortunately created some negative outcomes. And choosing more identical campuses over more autonomous campuses is just one of the many strategic decisions that church leaders must make about their multisite model that does have the potential to produce different results. And you’ve heard me say this before, I think one of the reasons why churches choose multisite strategies that don’t work is because there are way too many multisite experts out there that have told pastors through the years, there are many ways to do multisite. You pick the way that you wanna do it. And then, these experts report data demonstrating and celebrating all the many ways that churches are doing multisite. But what never gets reported is the data on the failed outcomes of many churches that tried to implement a bad multisite strategy.

Amy (30:26):

That’s right.

Tony (30:26):

So, today, I wanted to maybe offer some wisdom that might help you avoid the missteps that we’ve seen other churches make when it comes to their multisite strategy. And with that in mind, I want to share some of the key strategic differences from our recent survey. And this is comparing the healthiest multisite churches, again, measured by growth and more baptisms, more people crossing the line of faith and the churches that have, well, it’s just not been successful. And that’s demonstrated by the fact that they had to close campuses. So, here’s what we learned from the research. This is not gonna be a surprise to you, Amy, but mergers create more challenges.

Amy (31:11):


Tony (31:11):

In fact, churches that had to close campuses were 40% more likely to have launched that campus as a result of a merger with another church.

Tony (31:22):

And I, I just wanna hear, say we, we work with churches all the time that are, are starting to launch into a multisite strategy. And they’re stepping into that by merging with another church. If that’s you, I strongly encourage you, if you don’t get our help, get somebody’s help. Because we’ve seen way too many times where merging, it can, it can create all kinds of challenges for churches. And I know, Amy, you’ve walked through some of those experiences in your past with churches. It’s just, it’s not fun. And we wanna, we wanna help you maybe avoid some of the challenges around that. Another, this is a big difference. Successful campuses and healthy multisite churches had much larger core teams. In fact, the core teams of healthy campuses were almost 60% larger prior to launch when compared to the core teams of campuses that had to close. Successful campuses also launched much larger. The average in-person, at-launch attendance of campuses that were thriving was 320 people. That’s a lot of people. That’s a big church. On the other hand…

Amy (32:31):

Those are the people going to the new location.

Tony (32:34):

That’s right. That’s right. On the other hand, the average for closed campuses was 140 people. So, you can see here clearly healthy campuses launched with almost twice as many people. And by the way, it’s interesting to look at where those churches are today. Those churches that launched larger are now twice as big. In other words, twice as many people are attending those locations. Again, we’ve coached churches all the time. So, this is not a surprise: you need to hire within. It pays off. Closed campuses were less likely to be led by a campus pastor who was selected from within the church. Either somebody that was previously on staff or previously in lay leadership in that, in that church. In other words, closed campuses more oftentimes looked outside the church to bring somebody in to be the campus pastor.

Amy (33:26):


Tony (33:26):

That may have been one of the reasons why they ended up closing that campus. And, lastly, and this sounds, this is gonna sound like we’re on repeat, the teaching model really does matter. So this is, again, this is what the data’s showing. Closed campuses were twice as likely to use a model where the campus pastor was the primary teacher. So, when compared to those fastest-growing, growing campuses, the ones that were experiencing the most health, the most growth, the most baptism, this is amazing. Closed campuses were four times more likely to use a model where the campus pastor was the primary teacher. So, again, healthy multisite churches were much more likely to use video teaching. And, in case you’re curious, we just ask point blank, what was the primary reason for closing a campus or letting it become an independent church? And in response, churches most often cited leadership challenges that was followed by the campus not being financially sustainable. In many instances, Amy, it was because they were overstaffed at the new campuses. And then, finally, the, the primary reason that was cited was the attendance had just plateaued or declined since the church launched.

Amy (34:41):


Tony (34:42):

So, once again, I just wanna say this one more time. Not all multisite strategies produce the same results. This reality has been obvious to the multisite consultants on the Unstuck team for many years because we’ve served more than a hundred multisite churches, and we’ve seen it firsthand. But, Amy, it’s good to finally have some data to confirm that as well.

Amy (35:04):

It really is because it is, there’s some trauma at the churches we serve when they’ve had to close a campus because they really feel called to multiplication through multisite. And then, they’ve had a failure, and they deal with trust issues with their congregation. And so, what the data does is it, it’s, it solidifies those predictable outcomes that we talk about so much. Well, given the number of multisite churches we serve, Tony, I’m glad that we have some additional insights to offer regarding the strategies that are working and aren’t working. And we’ve covered a lot of ground today, but do you have any final thoughts before we wrap up today’s conversation?

Tony (35:39):

Well, Amy, it is just a lot more fun for me to highlight the churches that are experiencing health, growth and reaching more people for Jesus because of their ministry strategies. I don’t enjoy talking about some of the challenges that churches are facing, including the need to close multisite campuses. However, I’m hopeful that these conversations will help you make better decisions and help your churches make a bigger kingdom impact. That said, I’m just grateful for all the churches that participated in this quarter’s survey.

Amy (36:08):


Tony (36:09):

The fact that you’ve tried to multiply locations, even for those of you that had to close some of those locations, it just demonstrates to me that you are committed to multiplication and not just multiplying locations but, more importantly, multiplying disciples of Jesus. So, for the pastors and church leaders who have stepped out and taken that risk, thank you. Thank you for your commitment to the gospel mission. And for those pastors and leaders who are considering multisite, or maybe you’re struggling with your multisite strategy or maybe you’re just considering what’s next as you expand the number of locations in your church, I hope that you will consider reaching out to us for help. Amy, my Unstuck teammates and I really do enjoy helping churches tackle the unique opportunities and challenges of multisite. And when it works, it really works. As we talked about earlier, healthy multisite churches are growing much faster. They’re reaching more people for Jesus. And when it doesn’t work, well, let’s just say it can lead to a lot of tension and disruption within the staff and your lay leadership of your ministry. So, we wanna help you avoid that whenever possible. And as I mentioned before, we’ve worked with more than a hundred multisite churches through the years. So, we have some best practices that we can share with you to help your church continue to grow its kingdom impact. And if you’re interested in learning more about that, you can reach out to us at

Sean (37:38):

Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. At The Unstuck Group, our goal is to help pastors grow healthy churches by guiding them to align their vision, strategy, team and action. In everything that we do, our priority is to help churches help people meet and follow Jesus. If there’s any way we can serve you and your church, reach out to us today at Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, have a great week.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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