Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Multi-site Churches

I just read an interesting article on Christian Post about multi-site churches. There are a lot of growing churches that are multi-site - Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL and LifeChurch, an Evangelical Covenant Church based in Edmund, OK (voted one of the most innovative churches by Outreach Magazine).

Even here in the Des Moines area we have several churches that are multi-site,
Lutheran Church of Hope, Walnut Creek Community Church, Meredith Drive Reformed Church, and Point of Grace Church are some that come to mind (if there are more I would love to hear about it).

I appreciate innovation, I think it is great when the Church thinks outside the box to reach more people. I know there are a lot of pros to doing this (present infrastructure, less money than traditional church planting, etc.). Though it seems to some like kingdom building (little k). I'm not saying that I am there. I really think it depends on the motivation of the church. The churches in Des Moines I know are doing a tremendous work for Christ and I'm thrilled by what God is doing through them.

I'm just curious as to the opinion of the "tens" of people who read this blog. What do you think? Good? Bad? I'd love to see your comments.


Noah Braymen said...

Piper's flock up in MN has multiple campuses. I guess you could say that VEFC has multiple campuses within one campus [kind of]. Personally I disagree with this approach.

"Reaching people" isn't comprised solely in a sermon on Sunday morning. It's also the discipling and training in the truths/doctrine of the Bible also in the accountability that is offered in the living body of Christ.

It's not necessarily a wrong approach, but I don't see this modelled in the Bible at all. When a congregation is too big for their facilities they should be raising up faithful disciples whom they can send out to other areas to be more biblical [e.g. the idea of the local church]. I don't think a local church is defined by driving out of your neighborhood [like more than 10 minutes away in a car…our situation is different then walking w/ the community to hear a Whitfield preach…or something like that]. In my opinion this squelches the communication of the gospel in the actual neighborhood where the folks in the congregation live. The church is the display of God's glory...and a community will never know the love of Christ if the Christians that live there are always gone.

Also, it seems that by having multiple locations with a satellite uplink as their commonality is wrong. What if the link breaks. Does the pastor preaching not trust others to go out and preach the gospel from the pulpit. What's the purpose of hoarding all these people to your ministry? If we are discipling faithfully it seems that a "multiple location" church is out of touch. I appreciate Piper, Driscoll and others, but it seems like a kind of selfish desire.

One problem...if people won't go to the church where you don't preach then you're probably not preaching correctly...it's becoming about you...not the gospel. Then again maybe it's not. I think my point is…if we aren’t raising up teachers that are as appealing in the pulpit with the relevance of the gospel to life and ultimate reality then there is a brokenness in the church that needs attention…

Interesting topic.

In Christ

Shane Vander Hart said...

Some good arguments Noah. Some things to consider - look at Acts. In particular - Acts 15, it seems like there was an interconnectedness among churches. They had a council that was authoratative over many churches.

Also another thing to consider is that they didn't have sattelite, DVD, computer link-ups, etc. so who knows how the early Church would function if it were started today.

Also, many of the ministry sites do have community & ministry generated from that specific site. Willow Creek is a good example, and Piper's church is also an example.

Another thing to consider...are we neighborhood centered anymore? I would argue that we are not, though we certainly need to be more so. Which in one way is what multi-site churches are trying to address.

Also this may be a more cost-effective way to church plant, I know that is why Meredith Drive Reformed Church started the Bridge, their Johnston campus. They had planted two churches before - Prairie Ridge in Ankeny, and Westview in Waukee. This was thinking outside the box for them, and it seems like it is working well.

As always - I appreciate your comments Noah!

MsDee said...

I don't get it. Why are they calling it churches with multi-sites? Why not call it what it is , a franchise, a chain?
I really dont know how i feel about this.

Shane Vander Hart said...

Thanks for your post Ms. Dee, welcome!

They don't because it isn't a franchise. Chain perhaps, but then you could call denominations a chain as well. Some have said that multi-site churches are today's denomination. I don't know if that is the case.

I do know that in a lot of multi-site churches, different sites offer different worship styles and ministries (obviously same Gospel). Franchises, at least in the sense of fast food, are pretty much cookie cutter.

That isn't always bad, I work for a ministry that does Bible discussion groups in juvenile facilities. When we start new ones the leaders receive the same training, receive the same curriculum, have the same guidelines, etc. They eventually take on different flavors - why? Different people involved and different leaders, but they are essentially the same. Why do we do that - because we have a pretty good grasp foundationally how to get these off the ground.

I don't think that multi-site churches are right or wrong. I believe it really, ultimately depends on what is the motivation for doing it that way. Also, is this what Christ is leading them to do? I think if they are honoring Christ and want to reach more people and this is the best way to do it in their local context - go for it.

If it is about kingdom (little k) building, then they are out of step with scripture.

MsDee said...

I guess that's what it boils down to if it's of Christ who's to say otherwise