Thom Rainer says there is a significant trend for churches to decentralize in two major areas:

Facilities. “Just 10 years ago, you could count on 99 percent of churches having a singular address. All the church’s buildings were at one location. Most churches had their groups or Sunday School classes at that same location. Though it was biblically errant to say so, many people referred to the one location as ‘the church.’

“Today, a growing number of churches have multiple locations. Among megachurches, those congregations with an average worship attendance of 2,000 or more, the move to the multisite model has been dramatic. Just 10 years ago, 27 percent of megachurches were multisite. Today the number is 62 percent! Such a massive change is breathtaking, but the multisite model is not limited to large churches. More and more medium and small churches are moving to this model as well.”

Leadership. “Though many churches have had a plurality of leadership for years, the trend toward decentralization of leadership has become more common.
For example, in multi-staff churches 10 years ago, the pastor was either known as ‘pastor’ or ‘senior pastor,’ but the label ‘lead pastor’ has become normative in a plurality of churches today.

“The leader who was a senior pastor often was perceived to be at the top of an organization chart. ‘Senior’ thus referred to the person at the pinnacle of an hierarchal system. ‘Lead pastor’ is a move toward decentralization.” [Read about the reasons for decentralization.]


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