According to a new study by the church think tank Leadership Network, the number of congregations that host worship services at more than one physical location has grown to more than 5,000 in the last decade, the Religion News Service reports.
Researchers say these multisite churches, which may share worshippers across town or many miles apart, are growing at a much faster pace than traditional megachurches. Without the burden of additional expensive buildings, congregations find they grow faster in new places, said Warren Bird, research director of Leadership Network.
Multisite churches—which come in different models, such as a different campus pastor on each site or one senior pastor broadcast via video—have grown from fewer than 200 in 2001 to 1,500 in 2006 to an estimated 3,000 in 2009 to more than 5,000 today. In comparison, U.S. megachurches have grown from about 50 in 1970 to about 1,650 in 2012.
“It’s a combination of evangelism and saying, ‘People may not come to this particular building. How can we take where we are to where they are?'” Bird said. (from Religion Today)