Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Multi-Site Churches: Good Economy or Big Ego?


As promised, I did a little research on the multi-site church phenomenon. I found this interesting article at Christianity Today. It is full of positive analysis of one particular multi-site church. And it points to the fact that somewhere in the vicinity of 200 churches in the United States were at least considering a multi-site strategy. That was in 2003. I wonder what those numbers are today.

I think that this phenomenon is a natural extension of the mega church trend in our culture. And I struggle with its potential relation to and impact upon Church Planting. Are multi-site churches good economy, or simply a by-product of egotism and control? Are there seriously not enough qualified, gifted pastors to lead these churches? Should we consider our churches as “brands,” like a Wal-Mart or Krispy Kreme donut shop? (Read the article, and you'll understand what I mean.) How does all of this wash with Scripture? What would the Apostle Paul think? What do you think?

11 Comments:

Blogger Michael Jones said...

I first will admit that I haven't read the article yet, but I will. I have attended my parents and my sister's multi-site church, the first time at one site and the second time another site. Personally I thought it was horrible. I couldn't stay awake. The worship part of the service was okay, but the message was boring. It is very difficult to pay attention to a pastor being broadcast from another location. The most disappointing thing about the service was the seeker friendliness of it. The message was vague and the music didn't mention Jesus at all. It all revolved about what I can do for God. The only thing that I heard that was positive was the fact that they baptized 40 people in the two weeks around Easter.

I will comment on the article later.

Thanks for the post.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Gosh, this is a tough issue to wrap my mind around. In my heart I don't feel right about a church becoming a "chain", much like Wal-Mart or Krispy Kreme. I had a lot more to say but I guess if you really want to know how I feel then you better email me. I don't want to go too far out here in cyber world. This is a dangerous place to voice opinions!

8:50 PM  
Blogger Michael Jones said...

I am impressed with this churches ability to launch with a full staff and be extremely effective in their different communities. I personally still disagree with that way of doing church. (Is that correct, do we actually "do church" or is there a better way of saying that?) The article didn't delve into exactly how they service flows, so it makes me wonder if Mr. Ferguson is broadcast to the other locations or if each location has a separate preacher every Sunday. I am all for the idea if each location functions as its own church.

11:47 AM  
Blogger PastorB said...

Hey Geoff, saw your name at SBC Outpost and wondered if you are from Brownsville?

Back to your post topic. I have a friend who is the campus pastor of a satellite. At first, the idea seemed...I dunno, sort of odd to me. Recently I've visited twice and found it to be a pleasant surprise. The worship was very good and led by the church band. The satellite fed messages have been striaght up and uncompromising. The people I've met there seemed as genuine Christ followers. So, at least one multi-site venue has it going on.

While I don't see ego-drivenness in this situation, I can see how it could be seductive. Are multi-sites the future of the church? Hopefully not, but only time will tell.

My .02

8:15 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Geoff--you might find this piece on multisites (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/009/24.60.html) helpful.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Buck said...

I find the potential of multi-site churches a little disturbing. Granted, maybe it is because I am just a Supply Pastor for two small country churches, but I feel that there is a connection issue that is missing in a made for TV sermon piped into a satellite church. I know not everyone believes as do I, but God's message is to be brought out to the people and touch the “hearers” in the congregation. That is where I am having some difficulty grasping the whole approach.

When I am preaching, and walking the aisles, I find that the parishioners, respond better to what is being said. I can also judge if someone is not understanding the way in which I have worded something and needs it brought to them a little differently.

It is also understood that I am not the typical preacher, at least that us what these two 100 year plus old churches tell me. Even though I write a sermon every week, I seldom say ten percent of what I write, I just let God take me wherever we need to go. I fail to see just how these tv kind of services provide that needed connection between the giver and the recipient (Communication 101).

But on the other hand, I guess that I can see that in this tv/computer/technological - I have to be entertained world we live in today, why some people would go to church, so that they could breakaway from there isolated, independent world, to watch yet more tv.

I do not pretend to know what it all means, after all I am just a Supply Pastor discerning a call.

Thank you for the thought provoking post.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Jim Kane said...

I have just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. Very interesting read with some important implications for ministry. One of the things that he talked about was the rule of 150 in which research indicated that we are able to probably know/be acquainted with no more than 150 persons.
I do think that the Lord wants more people in my church (less than 150) because He wants to redeem all of humanity! But, I think that many persons are tired of big and want better. Better community, better understanding of scripture. I would love to hear what laypersons have to say about this. Any laypersons want to respond?

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Rick Lawrenson said...

I think there's plenty of room for ego-centeredness in preachers who down what is working effectively, though differently in other venues.

Recently I spent several hours with a pioneering church in the multi-venue movement. I was pretty clueless about it up to that point, but found it to be a refreshing way to reach out.

It may not work for me or my church, but if it's getting the job done in other places then praise God.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Geoff Baggett said...

Rick-
Well spoken. We do have that tendency to villify that which we do not understand, especially if it is working better (pragmatically) than what we, ourselves are doing.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Please join our conversations often.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

I agree that this particular style of church may not be for me, but if it is reaching people and doing the work God intended for it then who am I to stand in its way?
I, for one, am more interested in an organic physical gathering rather than what appears to be a very clinical, sterile way of doing church. Again, I've never been to a multi-site, on screen church gathering, so I can only surmise from this point. Also, I went to a church for years where I wished I could mute the pastor or change the channel or something, anything to keep from falling asleep or listening to his bad jokes or ridiculing other people from the pulpit. I'd prefer a salellite church over that experience any day.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Geoff Baggett said...

Jody -

Thanks for the input. I agree, if God is moving ... we all need to stay out of the way. But, like you, franchized, on-screen mega church just isn't for me.

Geoff

8:46 AM  

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