One Assembly: Rethinking the Multisite and Multiservice Church Models

By Jonathan Leeman

Many churches are switching to the multisite or multiservice models to manage crowded sanctuaries due to growing attendance. This solution seems sensible in the short term, but too often churches adopt this model without taking into consideration what the Bible says about it. Illuminating the importance of physical togetherness as a way to protect the gospel, this book argues that maintaining a single assembly best embodies the unity the church possesses in Jesus Christ. Jonathan Leeman considers a series of biblical, theological, and pastoral arguments that ask us to stop and examine intuitions or assumptions about what a church is. He reorients our minds to a biblical definition of church, offering examples of churches that have thrived with a single service at a single site and compelling alternatives for those looking to solve the complications that come with a growing church.


Jonathan Leeman (PhD, University of Wales) is the editorial director for 9Marks. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books and teaches at several seminaries. Jonathan lives with his wife and four daughters in a suburb of Washington, DC, and is an elder at Cheverly Baptist Church.


“Evangelical churches that are multisite or multiservice are like that for good-intentioned, pragmatic reasons. Jonathan Leeman challenges us to think exegetically and theologically about a popular practice that may not be as strategic as so many assume.”
Andy Naselli, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament, Bethlehem College & Seminary

“Too often we don’t think about what it means to be a church or to do church together. Jonathan Leeman’s book, therefore, might shock our pragmatic and individualistic sensibilities. Still, Leeman makes an excellent case that the word church in the Scriptures means ‘assembly,’ and that two assemblies are by definition two churches. The matter is complex and people who love the Scriptures disagree, but I think Leeman’s case is the most plausible.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

One Assembly is more than a critique of the multiservice and multisite movement. Leeman persuasively argues for the biblical faithfulness, beauty, and effectiveness of a single church service. Instead of slowing down gospel growth, the single-service model actually promotes the Great Commission by encouraging church planting. This is a must-read for anyone interested in church growth.”
Aaron Menikoff, Senior Pastor, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Sandy Springs, Georgia

“Jonathan Leeman clearly loves the church. He loves it enough to lay out here, with clarity and compassion, the one-assembly model that Scripture so consistently presents. Eminently engaging and stemming from deep personal experience, this book helpfully shows us not only what Scripture says a ‘church’ is but also how churches with multiple sites or services can move toward a single gathering. Leeman’s carefully considered treatment is timely and relevant to all Christians, not just pastors and scholars.”
Anne Rabe, Former Lecturer in Classics, University of Kansas

“Leeman convincingly shows from Scripture and plain reason that a mark of the local church is one assembly, and churches do well to practice this biblical norm. I plead with church leaders to prayerfully hear Leeman’s case so that Christ is more exalted, we are more faithful, and our churches most effectively advance the Great Commission.”
P. J. Tibayan, Pastor-Theologian, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, California

“This book analyzes the multisite and multiservice models with tremendous commitment to Scripture, clarity, and precision. Jonathan Leeman brings to light the implications of the multisite and multiservice movement’s chronological and geographical fragmentation of the one assembly: the redefinition of the nature of the church and the reshaping of the church morally. Every pastor must seriously consider his arguments.”
Jonas Madureira, Senior Pastor, Word Baptist Church, São Paulo, Brazil

“Many churches take multiple services as a given. Increasingly, churches are embracing multisite models. With the boldness, courage, and zeal of a reformer, Jonathan Leeman invites us to submit our assumptions and practices in ministry to the scrutiny of what the Bible says about the church. Even if you don’t agree with everything that One Assembly concludes about the church, Leeman is surely correct to call the church to build her life, worship, and service upon the foundation of Scripture alone. Let One Assembly provoke you, challenge you, and, above all, drive you to God’s word.”
Guy Prentiss Waters, James M. Baird Jr. Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“Jonathan Leeman has advanced significantly the discussion on what constitutes a local church. An ekklesia, most fundamentally, is what it does: it is a gathering. Those looking to defend an alternative approach (either multisite or multiservice) will likely find some previously unconsidered arguments and data here. Leeman has assembled the most thorough case for one service/one church. Not everyone will be persuaded, of course; but Leeman’s work was influential in our church’s decision to move from multiservice to a single service.”
Ryan Kelly, Pastor of Preaching, Desert Springs Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico

“The church of Jesus and the apostles cannot be redefined by our culture or our needs. This book describes the difficulties in my own experience of pastoring a multisite church that lost its building and was forced to split into six home campuses. Leeman provides an alternative for the multisite model, including the church-planting strategy our elders are preparing to follow. This book will challenge you and bless other church leaders in situations like mine.”
Victor Shu, Lead Pastor, Radiant Grace Church, East Asia

Table of Contents


1. A Church Is the Geography of Christ’s Kingdom 

2. A Church Is an Assembly

3. A Church Should Be Catholic

Appendix 1: New Testament Uses of “Ekklesia/Assembly”

Appendix 2: Does Acts 9:31 Refer to a Regional “Church”? (Anne Rabe)


Category: Church Ministry
Format: Paperback
Case Quantity: 10
Page Count: 176
ISBN-10: 1-4335-5959-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-5959-4
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 8.0 ounces
Published: April 07, 2020