Something in a conversation I had tonight sparked this post, there is nothing of substantial value in this post, it’s just me ranting. Fitch has an excellent post on this topic here if you want to read it, but I’m just going to wrestle out loud for a minute.
Does the multisite church model work and is it effective in producing the kind of people that are bent towards the kingdom? Is the idea of a local church really compatible with a multisite, beamed in teaching pastor, universally branded, hierarchical methods of multisite church methods of today? There are a lot of questions that I have around this model.
In support of the model, I wonder if “teaching” biblical truths is all that important to be local and contextualized to a specific community. Because if they are universal, then maybe we should just all be listening to Bruxy Cavey or Bill Hybels or whoever beams their face on the big screen. One of the things that Tim Keller says in his Leadership and Church Size Dynamics article is
In a larger church people will let you pastor them if you are a good preacher, in a smaller church the reverse is true: people will listen to your sermons if you are a good pastor.
I think when I say I support the model, I basically mean is I can see what people would argue as to why this was important. I don’t actually agree with it at all. In the quote above, I land pretty heavily on the side of be the good pastor so people will listen to your sermons. In a multisite model, that doesn’t exist.
Then come the problems I have with it. The problems are never ending actually. Whether it be how closely multisite church models seem to resemble corporations or how the teaching pastor is never actually speaking directly to people and only to random topics and ideas or how the entire model seems to be completely void of any local community engagement, I don’t see how a multisite church model effectively models what the kingdom of God is? If the kingdom of God is awakening people to the reality of a resurrected Lord, how is a multisite church doing that? By branding churches with a stamp/logo made by a marketing company that was paid $100, 000? By getting people in multiple cities to believe in your version of Christianity? By mimicking corporations, growth paradigms and marketing strategies? By collecting tithes from all the sites just to keep the main site afloat and running effectively?
Obviously there are exceptions to every rule. People have been affected, changed and brought closer to the kingdom because of a multisite church. But really. Is this the way that Jesus points us to? Is this the slow and patient way forward that we are told it will be? I just can’t help but think that multisite churches are just another exasperated attempt by the evangelical church to offer something relevant that meets people needs but doesn’t actually lead anyone to change let alone be empowered to actually live radically and faithfully in the contexts they find themselves in.