Multi-Site Or ‘One-Service-Only?’ A Question of Evangelistic Faithfulness

Posted by Pastor J.D. on October 22, 2014
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This is the first of four posts on whether the multi-site can be a wise application of biblical ideals set out for the church. From the outset, we want to be clear that we are very concerned with the pragmatic and consumeristic approach that many multi-site churches take. We appreciate concerns raised by Jonathan Leeman and others to that end–concerns we hope these posts make obvious that we share. These blogs should not be construed as a defense of all multisite practices (this will become obvious), but rather an attempt to deal with the question of whether it is ever possible for a church to utilize a multi-site strategy in pursuit of the objectives the Lord Jesus has given to his church. 

To that end we’ll attempt to answer four questions: 1. Is multi-site evangelistically effective? 2. Is multi-site a biblically sound model? 3. Is multi-site pastorally helpful? 4. Does multi-site encourage or discourage leadership development?

Today’s issue: evangelism.

To cut right “to the chase,” The Summit Church has chosen to pursue a multi-site approach because our elders believed it was the most efficient way to reach the maximum number of people in our city while faithfully pursuing the other biblical beauties God prescribes for his local church. We don’t do multi-site because we like being scattered in a bunch of different places throughout the Triangle each weekend; we do it because we think it is evangelistically helpful to reach and disciple the maximum number of people possible as quickly as possible. So weekly, we gather in 9 locations around the Triangle, and we gather altogether as a congregation about once a year. Multi-site does not preclude church planting for us, not even in Raleigh-Durham. We plant churches (domestically) at the rate of four per year, with two of last year’s plants being right here in Raleigh-Durham. We sent out a total of 120 members as part of these plants.

“One service only” advocates question the biblical faithfulness of our approach, charging that we are not fulfilling God’s purposes for community and accountability in the local church (For a recent article in this vein, see Jonathan Leeman’s recent blog post). We will answer those questions in later posts, but here I want present the question to them of whether mandating “one service only” approach is evangelistically faithful.

Let me be clear: Evangelism does not trump all other biblical prescriptions for the church, but it certainly was among the closest values to our Savior’s heart. Luke 19:10 tells us that Jesus’ summation of his own ministry was that he came to seek and save the lost. A church that does not have this near the top of its priorities cannot be closely aligned with our Savior’s purposes, regardless of what else they get right. In heaven, there is more joy over one sinner that repents than how we organize the 99 who are already his.

And please know, I certainly am not trying to question the evangelistic desire of one-service-only advocates, just as I hope they do not question my desire for accountability, community, and faithful polity in our multi-site approach. I know many one-service-only advocates personally, and I have found many of them to be among the most ardent personal soul-winners I have met. But I do question their insistence on their model to the exclusion of all others. I believe their insistence on this model is evangelistically harmful, and thus damaging to the one thing Jesus told us to be most concerned about doing.

Consider this relatively conservative growth scenario: If even 15% of the members of a congregation of 400 meeting in a room that holds 500 bring one person to Christ every year, in two years members will no longer be able to bring any more of their friends to church. At that point, the church would have to overtly discourage its members from bringing any more unsaved friends, or, the reliable 80% rule (that new people will not continue to attend a room that is already 80% full) will do the discouraging for them. The 80% rule is, unfortunately, as reliable a sociological rule in the U.S. that you can find. Of course, the members could invite the people they are discipling to go to a different church, but isn’t life-on-life a crucial component of effective disciple-making? Surely “life on life” discipleship would include, in normal circumstances, worshipping together on the weekend.

Furthermore, the weekend service is still a very critical component in the conversion of the unchurched and dechurched (at least in places like the United States). Paul indicated that Spirit-filled weekend services would be highly effective for evangelistic purposes (1 Cor 14:25), so creating space for unbelievers to come in and observe is an evangelistic necessity. Similar to God’s command to Israel to keep an open and clear “court of the Gentiles” in their Temple, we must create an easy and accessible space for unbelievers to observe us in worship, which means keeping room in our services for “Gentiles” who want to come in and observe. But once you pass 80% capacity in your auditorium, unbelievers will simply cease coming—members will subtly feel discouraged from inviting them, and those who do come will often feel uncomfortable and choose not to come back. At that point, I can’t see how a church is not in direct violation of something the New Testament clearly teaches is to be a core value for the church. They are impeding, whether intentionally or not, the progress of evangelism. They are “making it hard for Gentiles who are turning to God.”

And if a church is not growing by 15% every few years, that means that not even 1.5 of its baptized members are bringing someone to Christ. Could any pastor who takes Jesus’ promises about the fruitfulness of his church seriously be satisfied with that (Luke 5:1-10; John 15:8)–and not hoping, and yearning, and planning, for more? When we see an influx of “Gentiles” that God is drawing to our congregation, won’t we do everything we can to make space for them?

Some say, “Well, build a bigger building.” That seems like a good answer, but that usually takes millions of dollars (money that could be spent reaching people), and a minimum of 5 years to raise money and build the building. Meanwhile, your church, sitting at its saturation point, loses its momentum in evangelism, which translates into people not getting saved. Plus, pastors with really large auditoriums invariably end up hating them. (I can make you a list!)

“Ahh…” you say, “church planting is our answer. Every time we get to 80% of our auditorium we’ll plant. By sending people out we’ll maintain space in our auditorium and keep reaching people at the same time.” I mean no disrespect with this, but that is the kind of answer that people give who have never actually had to deal with the problem. It looks so good on paper, but anyone who has had to deal with the reality of growth, at least in the United States, knows that dog won’t hunt. I wish it worked here, and know it does in some other contexts… but it is simply not a reliable or realistic solution to insist for all places and all times.

Here’s why: I have never seen a church in a Western context that could convince even 10% of its members, consistently, year after year, to leave to plant a new church. As I mentioned, our church sent out 120 of our members to go with our four domestic plants last year, which puts us (unfortunately) among the most aggressive church-planting churches in America. But sending out 120 is still less than 2% for us… even though we talk about church planting all the time and actually paid the full-time salary of four guys for a year to do nothing but recruit people from our church to go with them. And sending out those 120 was painful, because it involved sending out some of our most committed leaders, leaders it will take us quite a while to train up and replace. Sometimes I wonder if we can sustain even this pace–though by faith we are trying.

Even if you do manage to send out 10% of your members every year for the first few years, you will see a law of diminishing returns begin to kick in. The amount of believers ready to uproot their families and plant a new church will not remain constant at 10%. I’m not saying mathematically it couldn’t happen; I am saying that I am very familiar with the most mission-minded, mature, church-planting churches in the nation, and I have never seen an example of a church that could sustain that level of sending. The first year you harvest that zealous group–who are in a place for a new challenge and ready to go with your new plant. The next year, you convince a few more, as people in your church are maturing and becoming more willing to sacrifice… but it probably will not be quite as many. Soon, you will have run the metal detector over the sand so many times that there just is not enough metal shavings left to send out in a new plant. And, even if you could maintain the 10% sending rate, you would not be keeping up with the conservative growth rate of 15%–which I still think is a low growth percentage in light of Jesus’ extravagant promises about the fruitfulness of his church!

When you plant a campus, or start a new service, however, you are able to move a lot more people around. We see up to 50% of members in one service shift to a new service time (or campus). We’ve seen this happen on a consistent basis with little to no diminishing returns.

Never has the church planting approach been a successful strategy for addressing the space needs of even a moderately growing congregation of 400—at least not in the United States. I challenge one-service advocates to find me examples to the contrary.

To note, starting new campuses in RDU (for us) is not an alternative to church planting; it is alternative to building one gargantuan building. (This is one of the many reasons we don’t plant campuses in other cities or states, as that would not not, in any way, help out our attendance problems in RDU. We only plant independent churches in other cities and states. Or, as we like to say it–we plant campuses in those places from where we already have a lot of people coming; we plant new churches in places that we don’t.)

So if you don’t multiply services (and/or campuses), inevitably your members will become less evangelistic, and unbelievers will quit coming to your service. Thus, I contend that the one-service approach, however unintentionally, discourages evangelism.

Again, evangelism does not trump all other biblical prescriptions for the church. And, if “ekklesia” mandates that we all assemble weekly in one place, we should trust the Master’s prescriptions and do that faithfully, regardless of the perceived ramifications on evangelism. It’s his mission, after all, and we’ll do it best when we do it his way. But the case that the word ekklesia requires all church people to gather in one location, at one time, every week, has simply not been compellingly made, at least in our view. Please note: that we should gather is not in question (Grant Gaines helpfully points out that assembling is a necessary function for a church, a point with which a fully agree–more on that tomorrow). Whether it must be altogether, in one location, every week, is in question.

The only points of proof that “one-service-only” advocates bring forward to ‘prove’ that it must be all in one place at one time every week are a) what we consider to be a rather weak, tenuous inference from the word ekklesia itself, b) supposed implications in verses where Paul talks about the church assembling—but verses in which Paul is not addressing the question of whether the church must assemble altogether every week and c) the example of the nation of Israel who assembled annually in Jerusalem.

In our view, the evangelistic damage their model causes to growing churches is severe, and we must consider this reality soberly in any and all discussions that we have. If there is more joy in heaven over the one that repents than in how we assemble the 99 who are already his, surely this must color all our discussions.

The multi-site approach has its challenges, and, as I noted, it is possible to pursue it unfaithfully and harmfully. It seems that for some, in their desire to grow, they haven’t balanced the other important truths God’s Word teaches about the church. We certainly have felt that temptation, and fear it on a continual basis. Pride, materialism, and apathy lurk dangerously close in our hearts, and we ask God for the wisdom to avoid those deadly errors. Jonathan Leeman has recently pointed out some of these challenges the multisite church faces. However, a few things to keep in mind as you peruse his list:

1. Most of his critiques would apply just as equally to any large church, not just a multisite church. In fact, most of the problems he identifies would be more acute in a large, single-service church than in a multi-service one. Are we ready to argue that all large churches have departed from the biblical pattern? Could anyone read Acts 2–5 and not see the Jerusalem church as, at minimum, a large group with a lot of organizational problems, subject to most of Leeman’s critiques here?

2. Almost all of Leeman’s critiques would just as equally apply to the multi-service approach as they would the multi-site approach. In other words, to accept Leeman’s reasoning, you must shun the approach of a church with two Sunday morning services. Anything else is inconsistent.

3. Many of his critiques (particularly #3 #7, #11, #14, #15, #18, #20) will likely sound very foreign to those in a healthy multi-site church. What he supposes with these critiques is logically possible, but not necessary, and members of healthy multisite churches will not find these descriptions accurate at all.

But more on that to come.

Tomorrow, the most important question: Is the multisite model biblically sound?

Pastor J.D.

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J.D. Greear is pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013). More

24 responses to Multi-Site Or ‘One-Service-Only?’ A Question of Evangelistic Faithfulness

  1. The first time I considered this “argument” was after listening to the very wise and somehow still humble, Mark Dever. Dever was one of the first to “warn” about multi -site campuses and is worth listening to via the TGC of 9Marks. Two of the men jesting with Dever in a TGC video for sort of being a stick in the mud on this issue are no longer riding the wave of flourishing multi-site campuses.

  2. Two Great Critiques!

    This is a very wise and biblical critique from a faithful single-site and a faithful multi-site.

    The critiques really begin to bear teeth in places that are less faithful than Summit and Capital Hill.

    Bottom line, just because Summit and Capital Hill have shown faithfulness in their contexts, if you are reading this don’t assume that you are being faithful in yours (or that I am being faithful in mine). In other words, consider each point of critique carefully, prayerfully and humbly.

  3. I really appreciated your points. You dismissed many of Leeman’s points, but I wish that you would interact a little bit more with #7:

    “Multi-site churches which use video preaching unwittingly communicate that singing is more significant for Christian growth and closer to the heart of worship than hearing God’s preached Word. After all, how many multi-site churches stream their music over video from a central location? A church wouldn’t dare import the music, it’s thought. People need to engage with a live band. People need their music authentic, personal, enfleshed. But preaching? Apparently, it can be imported from afar.”

    I’m not even sure if you have video venues; perhaps you’re opposed to them. But if you do have video venues, I think it would be helpful to hear you answer this one.

  4. Curious if your leadership has honed in on reasons for the low number of people that are interested in church planting.

  5. 1. This is a very pragmatic argument. Other than the RCC, what model in church history support this? Was Spurgeon, who was more an evangelist than yourself, wrong in building or renting new facilities? Why did he not “multi-site”?Why does the invention of the video screen suddenly make multi-site “faithful to evangelism”?

    2. With all due respect, your argument regarding not planting churches basically sounds like, “we are the only church/pastor that can get this many unbelievers coming to church, and since we can’t get 10% to leave every year [implication: "they love us that much!"] we have do multi-site. At the least pragmatic, at the most very boastful.

  6. Hi Pastor,

    I followed a challies.com link to this page and am writing as a curious observer, holding firmly to no position though leaning away from the multi-site model. I also live in the RDU area and while I attend a different church here, I know people who attend Summit and hear great things about it.

    I just wanted to make one comments. I’m not clear on the difference between a new church plant and a “campus plant” in terms of feasability. I caught two of your arguments for why a “campus plant” is easier: (1) Lower financial barrier; (2) Inability to constantly ask a percentage of the existing body to move to a new church.

    Keeping in mind I’ve never planted a church nor thought of doing so, I don’t understand the cost difference between opening a new church and opening a new site or campus. What accounts for the dramatic difference in cost? Your campus sites don’t appear to be base warehouses without basic amenities. And you seem to have a full staff to provide a proper administrative structure for each site. So why is one more expensive than another?

    Second, I take it you’d still need to seed a new Summit campus with people from the existing body. You can’t just tell unbelievers to go there by themselves. How is asking families to “uproot” themselves and move to a new site or campus different from asking them to uproot themselves and move to a new church? (And since you don’t directly define “uproot” I’m taking it to mean leaving some friends behind at one site to populate a new site as opposed to moving their mailing address to attend a new site in a new locale. Since all your sites seem to be within 30-45 minutes of each other, people would not have needed to move to seed the new site.)

    Thanks and blessings,
    Steve

  7. Thought I’d answer a couple of quick questions.

    Steve (and Kristen), thanks for your thoughts. Why will so many go to a new service, and relatively fewer to a church plant? Good question… I think it’s just difficult for people to leave “their” church, especially if they have their families deeply imbedded there. Relationships are what keep people at a church, and that’s usually a good thing. And sometimes God has used a particular pastor’s ministry in their lives and continues to. Both of these can take unhealthy forms of course–a refusal to surrender your own comfort, the idolization of a particular man–but these attachments can also be very natural, even God-given. Think about it: How excited are you about leaving your church? How many times have you changed churches in the last few years? Most healthy church members plug into a place and stay there and that long-term community becomes a deep source of blessing in their lives. Particularly if you have young kids, you want to plant somewhere and go deep.

    Regardless, however, of whether I can give the right answer as to why they won’t, in practice they just don’t… You can say that we are poor leaders for not being able to compel, and maybe you are right, but I think it’s just the reality of dealing with people and not with formulas or robots, which are so much more predictable. To use a comparison, it makes no sense to my why a little Sunday rain affects the average church’s attendance negatively by 5-10%. But it does. I can stand up there and yell about it all day long, but at the end of the day, it’s reality. As a leader, sometimes I have to balance the “what ought to be” with the “what is” and start where people are and try to lead them to where they should be.

    Andy, the reason we don’t pipe in the music but use a live band has more to do with room dynamics and what it’s like to sing back to a screen… In preaching, you are typically listening–it should be active listening, of course–worshiping, writing things down, praying, sometimes yelling Amen, etc–but it’s not quite the same as vocally carrying on with screen the way you do in singing. That’s why most multisite churches do a live band, and why multisite, video-preaching in some really responsive congregations, particularly ethnic ones, doesn’t work as well.

    I found Leeman’s critique #7 ironic, however, in its charge that by doing a live band we are thereby elevating the importance of singing over preaching. Ironic because usually the charge goes the other way: the multisite pastor must think his preaching is so essential to everyone that he has to pipe himself everywhere and not use live preachers. I’ve never heard the charge made that multisite indicates a lack of importance given to the pastor’s preaching. But, regardless, I think the charge is a non-sequitur. Viewing the sermon vie a simulcast while singing with a live band and worship leader does not necessarily equate, for us, a devaluation of the word.

    Thanks again -

  8. Thank you.

  9. In response to JD’s answer to Steve. Bottom line, your answer does not make sense. Growth at 15% per year drives the need for additional sites (either multi-site or plant) (assuming building massive single site is excluded). Relationships are impacted by the fact that there are additional sites. It is independent as to whether those sites are multi-site or plants. Unless you are saying that the critical relationships are with the pastoral staff. But that doesn’t add up either, do the math, at 15% growth rate, an inconsequential % of the congregation can have those relationships. The second reason your answer does not make sense is that with a 15% growth rate, 1/6 of the congregants have been at your church for 1 year or less. There is therefore a very significant percentage of the congregation who do not yet have deep relationships and therefore many to draw on who should be willing to start those deep, long term relationships at a plant.

  10. JD, if you regularly use video preaching the problem isn’t valuing preaching too much or too little. The problem is that you are showing that you think that only one person in your 6000 has been sufficiently gifted by God to teach your church that week. Either the Holy Spirit has tragically forgotten your church, or you are spurning his gifts.

  11. If a “pastor” doesn’t know your name and something about your faith, that person is not your pastor. They might be a famous evangelist, or speaking performer, or organizer, or administrator, but they are not your pastor. Jesus had multi sites, but he was present when he was pastoring. Some of the big multi sites guys just are not present for you or me. The reality of “The Word” is so different from the image in the mega / multis site church in America today.

  12. Jon, Dannii, and Gregg, thanks for your thoughts. Again, realize that for all 3 of you your questions/concerns have less to do with multisite and more to do with problems in any large church.

    Dannii, if we met all together as 6000 each week, and I preached the majority of time, would I be guilty of saying that no one else can preach? Actually, our multi-site model has raised up far more preachers than when we were single-site by creating more preaching opportunities. And, we regularly send out church planters. Multi-site, hands down, has led to more leaders being raised up than when we were single service. As I’ll point out in my final post, when we launched a new campus earlier this year, 80% of the volunteers/leaders had never led before at our church!

    Jon, two quick thoughts: Relationships often stay intact across campuses and services. Because we are hearing the same messages, participating in the same mission, and sharing many ministries, people still feel like they are at the same church. For example, student and kid activities are multi-campus, and so are most outreach events. Some small groups even have people from different campuses in them–my small group does. So people don’t feel like they are leaving their church when they go to a new service in the same way they do when they leave for a new plant. But the proof is in the practice: I would challenge you to find me an example of a church growing by 15% every year that has been able to keep up with the growth for a period of years without multiplying services or building a big building. I just don’t know of a single example where church planting has answered the problem of attendance growth at a rapidly growing church in the US. Perhaps there are some, and I would rejoice if there were!

    Thanks again, and I hope this interaction is helpful… I certainly find it to be!

  13. Hi JD,

    I think the most biblical model for what the people of God look like is a family. Man and woman grow up kids who move out of the house and then start their own family. It is much more complicated than that but you get what I’m saying. I think if we put everything we’re doing in that context, we often see things we do that cause the kids to never grow up. Kristen and Dannii see some holes in the foundation of your structures. I’d encourage you to spend some time asking the Spirit about those areas because I think they are key in molding how you structure your body. Based on what you described, I think a big part of what you’re doing is treating a symptom verses dealing with the root. By no means am I defending the article you are referring to. I didn’t read it and I’m sure I wouldn’t agree with most of his thoughts as just growing bigger and bigger in one place doesn’t jive with the family model either.

    Josh

  14. JD, thanks for considering my thoughts.

    “Dannii, if we met all together as 6000 each week, and I preached the majority of time, would I be guilty of saying that no one else can preach?”

    I can’t see how a church of 6000 people could function healthily, and this is only one part of it. But yes, most ministers at mega-churches are guilty of the same thing. Video preaching is worse though, as it’s totally spurning the gifts of each individual congregation.

    Now it does depend on how much of it you do. Even in a church of 50 people it’s not right for one minister to preach 50 weeks a year. If you had video sermons 4 times a year that would be perfectly fine in my opinion. Somewhere between there is a threshold. I don’t know where it is, but I’d aim for on the lower side. If you do actually preach through video sermons “a majority of the time”, I think that’s on the other side of the threshold (especially if the rest of the time is video sermons of someone else.)

  15. One more thought: There are distinct problems with multisite churches not shared with large chuches. There is a new multisite church near me which doesn’t use video sermons, but does share a single teaching programme. The ministers work together to prepare sermons but then deliver them with their own personal touches. Team preparation is a really good idea I think!

    But the problem is that sharing a teaching programme between congregations must then necessarily ignore the differences between the congregations. It’s working well now, but in a few years I think it will cause problems. What will happen when one congregation has a dozen new babies, and another a dozen miscarriages? It would be wiser I think to tailor a series on parenting in one and grief in the other. What about when demographics shift? What about when one congregation is blessed with dozens of new Christians and the others aren’t? To some extent you can and should always tailor the application to the congregations (if they are being preached on site), but that only goes so far. We should share our resources as much as we can, but I think it is best to recognise that congregations will end up differing widely from the beginning.

  16. Before I came to Summit Church I was a member of a church of around 500… a single service church. I didn’t know 1/2 of the people and less of them deeply. To those people that I knew well, I knew from serving or small group. Additionally, to serve on Sunday I had to miss the sermon which in the end was a sacrifice, but I noticed a lot of people serving every week, thus missing the sermon every week. (That’s crazy. Why not do multi service so people can serve every week?) At a Summit Campus, we can serve every week and not miss a sermon, we get to know more people through serving every week and my kids to service projects during the 2nd service… so all this “no community” criticism is simply not true.
    But then comes the criticism: “Assembly” etc… Until I joined Summit this is how I thought about the topic. In the end, the only way to really “do church” the way the critics suggest, is to have a house church sized gathering. So, anyone for a house church?
    Personally I find church government issues to be a drag, but it is an important issue clearly from many major issues of other recent church organizations. However, a lot of more “reformed churches” seem to be more concerned about church purity than evangelism. This is really unfortunate. I consider myself reformed and dare I say Calvinist, but when people aren’t hearing the Gospel, God is not glorified and what is the chief end of man? Glorify God and enjoy Him Forever!
    To the technology critic: It seems many of our brothers and sisters will use their automobiles to commute to work or church, and smart phones to communicate with their friends and family. However, using a broadcast technology to a multi site church is unfathomable? We use airplanes to travel and internet to communicate the Gospel to the ends of the earth but to use these devices to our benefit in a multi site strategy is bad? Dare I say if we are afraid to use strategy to bear fruit for the kingdom are we not in essence saying: ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ (Matthew 25:24-25 ESV)

  17. If you take it back to the imagery of a family, your gathering should be from the overflow of a growing family, like a family reunion (a time to get the larger family together to celebrate God’s work, worship and teach).

    Most bodies of people start with the family reunion and then start adding people to the family through bringing them to the reunion. But the problem with that is you can’t possibly have the DNA of the family just by showing up to a meeting or class.

    I’m not saying that people can’t meet God or good things happen in the current structures. But the current structures create more problems to deal with.

  18. The problem I have with multi-sites is it looks like a Catholic model rather that Bible. Do all these sites function as local churches or are they under control of a “pope” like person that controls all the sites? Praise the Lord for people getting saved!

  19. I don’t have a problem with several churches opperating under the authority of one body of elders or one philosophy of ministry. Frankly, autonomy of the local church is not a Biblical concept (sorry, my Baptist friends). However, there are some issues which you refuse to adequately address. Every multi-site church that I have seen puts new campuses only in affluent areas where other faithful churches are already ministering. Sadly, these smaller churches cannot compete with the overwhelming resources of the mega/multi-site church and many of their members opt for the glitz and glamor of the new campus. Not to mention the pastor of the smaller church, who faithfully preaches God’s Word every week and seeks to build real relationships with his congregation, just doesn’t have the charisma of the multi-site pastor.

    Which leads me to my next point. You never really gave an answer as to why people are willing go to a new campus but not a new plant. And just saying, “it’s what works,” is not an answer. The obvious answer is that they want to hear the same charismatic preacher who is piped into all the new campuses. This creates a cult of personality that usually does not end well. The church is not supposed to be built on one person but rather on our shared faith in Jesus. The personality driven mega/multi-site churches seem to defy this. Furhtermore, when a pastor insists that his voice is the only one that can be heard across his network of campuses (especially those in multiple cities) it strikes me as empire building rather than disciple making.

    I would challenge you to allow other leaders to preach at least half the time in all the alternate campuses. If you’re not willing to do that, you should take a long hard look in the mirror

  20. What a novel idea – “one church meeting in multiple locations.” I know the Pope will agree! Isn’t a Baptist church a form of “multisite church? What about a Methodist church, or a Presbyterian church, or a Church of Christ, or a Pentecostal church?

    What is the real purpose of a “multisite” church? In times past a church plant promoted a sense of community where believers could worship together under the leadership of a local pastor. The local pastor was content to preach and teach the Gospel. The local pastor trusted God to stir the hearts of His people to evangelize others. Preach and teach Christ crucified and by the power of the Holy Spirit lives will be transformed. It is for love of Christ Jesus that congregants in a local church will become a living testimony to others. The problem is that postmodernist have an entitlement mindset and pastors have bought into it.

    Many times I have prayed, “Lord, lead me not into temptation,” looked around and there was my pastor pulling me back from the edge of spiritual danger. Before money became the overriding concern of church leaders, pastors lived in a home close to the church, (often provided to the pastor by the church) and stood ready to shepherd their flock “whenever.” This type of propinquity is the fundamental essence of unity. Christians are called sons and daughters of God. We are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. It is oxymoronic to suggest that all Christ exalting churches are not “multisite.” Consequently, there is nothing innovative about a “multisite” church, other than who leads it.

    Years ago the public school system introduced Darwinism. Many churches were fearful that this human heresy would undermine Scripture so they invented the “Gap Theory.” That didn’t go over to well. It was an addition to Scripture and our Lord has warned us about adding to His Word. He also warned us about reducing His Word; nevertheless, we remained silent as the public school system began to corrode the very foundation of TRUTH. Children were bused, and still are, out of their communities, so that local churches would lose influence over their lives. Family matters to God, but we don’t get it.

    The Catholic Church went multi-site and they won’t go back! Warren Bird’s study focuses on numerical growth for a single entity under individual leadership. That is cultish. To the extent that people care so much about something or someone that they take their eyes off of Jesus, opportunities for Satan are indeed being fostered.

    Numbers are not the primary function of the local church. Our Lord’s command is to “Go.” The build it and they will come mentality is not biblical and will not last. Yes, multi-site churches have greater resources affording superior entertainment opportunities. And, yes numerical growth will be the short-term result. However, the emphasis is and must always be one family united in Christ Jesus, and nothing else!

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