On Site AND Off Site
Off Site ministries are essential for the ongoing health of On Site ministries. It isn't a matter of one or the other, but of Both-And.
Congregations struggling with dwindling resources are tempted to consider Off Site beyond their reach. In our opinion, their only chance of surviving and thriving lies in taking ministry out to the people. It's the absence of Off Site that has imperiled their operations.
One reason is an over-emphasis on worship. To be effective, congregations must address other needs, ranging from study to prayer to service to fellowship. They must provide opportunities for interaction, as well as for the audience-style work of worship. They must offer small, intimate venues, as well as plenary.
A second reason has to do with where people form relationships. Sunday worship is a hectic 60+ minutes, tightly scripted, which simply won't provide adequate opportunity to form relationships. To connect at anything deeper than superficial, people need venues that are quieter, less hurried, less focused on moving people into and out of a sanctuary. That will come in small groups and mission teams, and then people will bring those relationships with them to church.
A third reason is breadth of diversity. The typical mainline congregation has an average of 62-64 and serves a community where the average age is 25-35. The typical mainline congregation is majority white, in communities that have much larger non-white presence. By seeking impact in those younger and more diverse areas, the congregation will develop better attitudes and perceptions for dealing with younger and more diverse constituents.