The "short answer" is that satellite campuses are NOT an alternative for church planting, but they ARE a good substitute for multiplying services on one campus.
I believe each church should capitalize on the growth God is bringing them. The way that they do that is to a) build a bigger facility; b) multiply services on the campus or c) plant new campuses. Of those 3 options, c is the most efficient.
Some say, "Do none of the above! Instead, plant a church." But numerous studies show that planting new churches, even if very close to the home church, makes no significant reduction in how many people will come to the home campus. It is a good "theory" to say that when you get full in your sanctuary you should just plant a church. But it usually does not do what we designed it to do on paper--i.e. free up space at a campus or provide for maximum growth.Thus, you should multiply services and campuses AND plant churches.
Ecclesiologically, there is no substantive difference I can find between multiple services on one campus or services on multiple campuses throughout the city.
Churches that do this should also be planting churches IN THEIR OWN CITY, as they will capitalize on new leadership and reach a whole new set of people. We want to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years, and I hope that at least 20 of those are in the Triangle.
To say it briefly, satellite campuses are an alternative to multiple services and bigger sanctuaries, not to church planting.
One small word of caution to critics of the multi-site movement--make sure that you're not doing the same thing the traditional church did to Luther (who put the Bible in the vernacular so farmers could read it) and Wesley and Whitfield (who had the audacity to preach outside of the church in the open field)--criticize the new medium just because it's not what we're used to...!
J.D. Greear gives his thoughts as his church is a multi-site church. Click here to read whole entry.
Multi-Site Campuses have been a topic of discussion among our staff here at Desert Springs. Although I do not see us doing a multi-site deal anytime in the future it is interesting to think about. There are many pastor who we respect who do multi-site campuses via video messages, such as John Piper, Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll to name a few. I guess the only big dilemma I see with this, is the tendency for it to become about the pastor. While this is an issue I think it is one regardless of whether you do multi-sites or not.
What do you think?