The idea of satellite church campuses is not new. One could argue that the New Testament is one gigantic multi-site church. Certainly, there are examples of churches in the Bible that are meeting in a variety of locations. Paul wrote to all the Christians in Rome and at the end of the letter described them all meeting in a variety of different homes throughout the city. All of them got a special greeting from Paul and his companions. Could this be the first multi-site church?
There are some similarities, but also some drastic differences between the Romans church and today’s multi-site churches. Both have groups meeting in different locations and yet they are still considered one church. Both seem to have localized leadership for each “campus”. It is hard to tell with the Roman church, but perhaps these New Testament churches had a variety of styles simply because they are in different places with different people.
But I think the differences between the Romans and their counterparts today are more obvious. The multi-site churches of today all have a centralized headquarters, which is not evident at all in Romans. The Romans churches were a network of simple churches all meeting in homes rather than a large church with multiple congregations. The multi-site churches of today are mostly starting satellite worship services and forming congregations around them, whereas, in Romans these are spiritual families tied to households and are much more than a worship service. In fact, there is no mention at all about worship services beyond the service of worship that each disciple is to offer before God (Rom 12:1-2).