multi-site churches

I noticed the following provocative statement from pastor Marc Driscoll recently. His statement seems to take a fairly hard-line stance on the issue of multi-site churches. What do you think of this growing phenomenon? (BTW: This is not the place to air your likes or dislikes of the man Marc Driscoll. I am simply noting something he recently penned).

One thing I am certain of following my recent travels is that the multiple-site church phenomenon and video services are here to stay. Dead churches will be revitalized more and more by larger churches establishing services in them through the use of video. An entirely new form of church planting seems to be emerging that, along with traditional church planting, will help to add healthy new churches.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Shane Hipps’ book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, opens with him visiting such a church. Although Hipps is cautious about making judgmental statements of such activities, he does wade in on the what the medium of such an event conveys as a message. He claims it says that the message being sent is that only certain people (those on the video) are capable of speaking to the group. It may even be saying that leadership should be more centralized rather than each group developing their own leadership. Whether or not he is accurate in his assessment about the phenomena, he does make one good point that Neil Postman has also made. We too often utilize new technology without critically thinking through what message may be conveyed by the medium itself apart from our stated message.

  2. There is no such thing as a healthy church where the pastor is only a visitor, and by video, at that. Church is not a place to watch a sermon. A pastor is not just a man who preaches. How can that man be accountable to the congregation? Who knows if he is “above reproach”? How can the congregation be accountable to him?

    As the commenter above pointed out, among many thousands of people, are there really only a handful who should be trained to shepherd the flock? What is this clerical elitism? Is the congregation qualified only as spectators and stage hands?

    Aside from that, it amazes me how people who live in big cities think everyone lives like they do. Video services may be here to stay in major metropolises, but there is a whole world out here where entire towns wouldn’t fill their megachurches, and there are many thousands of living, vibrant churches of 100-200 members (and smaller) that still meet in small, quaint buildings with steeples and pews. Many even use (brace yourselves) hymn books! They worship, sing, and preach without microphones, electric instruments, video, etc. I used to ring the bell in one of those churches–a real cast-iron bell with a rope.

    Maybe those churches aren’t living and healthy by the standards of Pastor Rockstar Megachurch. But they surely don’t need any high-tech innovations or remote pastors to revitalize them. The Holy Spirit is at work there even when the electricity goes out.

  3. Posted by Neal Todd on March 18, 2007 at 9:15 am

    There are many implications that must be carefully considered concerning this subject. The first major consideration is how a local church would be adequately shepherded by someone that does not “know” the saints. Even with a plurality of elders, the pastor-teacher must be familiar with the flock in order to address the spiritual needs of the body. A video conference may be profitable from time to time, but to replace the pulpit ministry would cheapen the Apostle Paul’s instructions found in 1 Timothy 4:11-16.

  4. ThirstyDavid,
    To be fair Driscoll’s quote included “traditional Church Planting.” Also, I have heard him speak on this issue and there is a pastoral team at every Mars Hill Campus. I think the issue in their situation is that he is the most gifted teacher, and people want to hear him speak. There are a lot of things that make me uneasy about this new wave of church planting, but I think that we are going to have to look long and hard at it before we dismiss it.

  5. Posted by Caleb on March 19, 2007 at 6:38 am

    Megachurches have some of the same problems as multiple site churches (though not nearly as many).

    I try not to judge anyones motives since personal kingdom building is clearly not the desire of John Piper (multi sites) or John MacArthur (very large church).

    Preaching pastors are pretty common in mega churches and multi-site churches.

    Maybe we just need to raise up more Timothys and Titus.

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