Resources on the Multi-Site Church Strategy

by Spence Shelton

Since we launched Mercy Church, our vision has remained that we want to see a gospel awakening happen in the city of Charlotte that gets carried to the ends of the earth. We are taking a big next step in seeing that vision become a reality by launching a second location this Fall. There is a big story behind this move that you really should read up on if you want to understand what’s happening.

Short version: An established church came to Mercy and offered to give us their facility and join our church family. Because of space limitations at this facility, moving all of Mercy Church there would be a selfish move, not a mission-driven move. We’d fill it all up pretty much instantly. So instead, we are launching it as a Mercy campus.

So, we find ourselves now transitioning into a church that worships in two locations on the weekends and that is, in short, different. It’s going to be a change and there are plenty of discussions we are having here on how best to prepare our church for this change.

I want to offer the resources below as materials I’ve found particularly helpful in my own research on the Multi-site strategy. My goal in researching this strategy was to determine if it was a faithful and effective step for our elders to consider taking in our efforts to lead God’s church into God’s mission. In the coming months, we’ll be laying out some of our own thinking on this, but hopefully these will give you some insight into what is driving our decision. And, as always, if you are a part of the Mercy fam and want to dialogue more, hit me up at

  • “Why the Summit Church is Multi-Site” by J.D. Greear – The Summit Church is the church that sent the launch team to Charlotte to plant Mercy Church three years ago. I was in the middle of this discussion when Summit adopted a multi-site strategy, and I think pastor J.D. provides a great explanation of the motivations that led to that shift (motivations that we share in a number of areas).
  • Multi-site Forum by Andrew Hopper and Bobby Herrington – if you like taking your content more in audio form, this forum was a really well-structured presentation for why Mercy Hill Church, one of our sister churches in the Summit Network, chose to adopt a multi-site strategy. Pastor Bobby wrote his Ph.D. on the preaching aspect of multi-site. If you are looking for 300 technical pages of reading in this area, it’s fantastic!
  • “Key issues in the Multi-Campus Church Movement” by John Piper – Dr. Piper gave this talk back in 2009. I love how his key questions seem to have remained key questions for us today. And I love his passion for shepherding people. 
  • Three books on the topic, if you want to go more in depth:
    • A Multi-site Church Road Trip by the guys at Leadership Network. They are good at covering a really wide spectrum of the church world, so you will see a lot of variations on the strategy in this book. Think of this more like learning about the whole idea rather than learning about Mercy’s specific approach to the strategy.
    • MultiChurch: Exploring the future of multisite by Brad House & Gregg Allison. This one is a good current analysis of the multisite spectrum. While we don’t think we are going to fall exactly into one of the versions of multisite they describe, we were really encouraged and influenced by their presentation of what is out there. And we will land, for this next season, probably right in the middle of the spectrum they lay out.
    • Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work by Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird. This book was a valuable tool for us as we walked through Mercy adopting another church and incorporating them into our body. It gave us clear concepts and language to use between our two churches and was a good help. Even the term, “adopting,” is their term for when one growing church absorbs a declining church, which is what happened in our situation recently.

The Lord is doing some exciting things, Mercy Church! I look forward to the days ahead being filled with humility, learning, and people being reached with the gospel!