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May/June 2009 eJournal Publisher's Note



9Marks eJournal
May/June 2009, Volume 6, Issue 3

Publisher's Note by Mark Dever
In my early thirties, I pastored a multi-site congregation, back before they were cool.

It was the early 1990's. I was the associate pastor. We had a thriving congregation in the middle of the city, but our building was full, packed with hundreds of college students. At the same time, we had concentrations of members both in the north and the south of our city. So we came up with an innovative idea. We would have three congregations, but one church.

How did we remain one church? We maintained one name, one budget, one membership role, one set of elders, one evening service, and united members meetings. On Sunday mornings, however, the north and south congregations would meet at 9:30 while the main central congregation would meet at 10:30. This allowed the preacher at either the North or South congregation to preach, and then to sprint across town to the central congregation, arriving just after the singing and in time for the sermon. Whew!

I remember one time when I was leading the service at the central congregation and Don Carson was supposed to preach, but there was this race, see, and…well, it could get interesting.

Are multi-site congregations good ideas? This special extra long, year-in-the-planning issue is meant to help you think through that question. And to help us, we've got professor Gregg Allison and multi-site pastor J. D. Greear explaining and defending multiple congregations as one church. (J. D. is a force of nature, even in print!)

Have we seen multi-site churches before? Good question. So we try to gain some historical perspective with the help of Greg Gilbert, Bobby Jamieson, professor John Hammett, and pastor Jeff Riddle.

Any problems with multi-site? Yes, says multi-site pastor Matt Chandler. But are these problems so bad that we shouldn't do it? No, says the same Matt Chandler. Don't miss Matt's provocative out-loud wondering what evangelical churches may look like in twenty years.

Okay, so go ahead and go multi-site? No, says Southwestern professor Thomas White. The Bible rules it out, says pastor Grant Gaines. Dead Baptists wouldn't approve, says Bobby Jamieson. And Jonathan Leeman, the untiring editor of this journal, raids his own doctoral work on membership to provide the most substantial concerns yet I've seen raised about multi-site congregations. Don't be put off by the length of Jonathan's piece—you want to read it, all of it.

Pray for wisdom in this important conversation between friends.

—Mark "I was a multi-site pastor" Dever


Theological Defense of Multi-Site
A seminary professor examines the multi-site phenomenon and offers a biblical, theological, historical, and missional argument for the multi-site church.
By Gregg R. Allison

A Pastor Defends His Multi-Site Church
A multi-site pastor provides a biblical, practical, and pastoral defense of his multi-site church.
By J.D. Greear



What Is this Thing, Anyway? A Multi-Site Taxonomy
Can multi-site churches be congregational? What kind of polity does a multi-site church have?
By Greg Gilbert

Have We Ever Seen This Before? Multi-Site Precedents
Another seminary professor looks for multi-site churches before 1980. Here's what he finds.  
By John S. Hammett

Richard Baxter and the Multi-Site Movement
What's Richard Baxter's problem with the multi-site church? One word: shepherding.
By Jeffery Riddle

Clouds on the Horizon
A multi-site pastor weighs in on the current state of the multi-site conversation and raises concerns about the future of multi-site churches.
By Matt Chandler



Nine Reasons I Don't Like Multi-site Churches, from a Guy Who Should
A young, tech-savvy seminary professor explains why he's not getting on board the multi-site revolution.
By Thomas White

Exegetical Critique of Multi-Site: Disassembling the Church?
A pastor-scholar weighs the exegetical arguments in favor of the multi-site church and finds them wanting.
By Grant Gaines

Theological Critique of Multi-Site: Leadership Is the Church 
The local church on earth is constituted by a gathering of Christians, which means the multi-site and multi-service “church” is not a church, but an association of churches.
By Jonathan Leeman

Historical Critique of Multi-Site: Not Over My Dead Body
Regardless of the fact that multi-site churches haven't existed for most of the past four hundred years, historic Congregationalists and Baptists have a lot to say against them.
By Bobby Jamieson

The Alternative to Multi-Site: Why Don't We Plant?
The multi-site church phenomenon looks like a capitulation to consumeristic culture. We should plant instead.
By Jonathan Leeman



Book Review: Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement's Next Generation, by Scott McConnell
Reviewed by Bobby Jamieson

Book Review: Franchising McChurch, by Thomas White and John Yeats
Reviewed by Jonathan Leeman

Book Review: One Church, Many Congregations, by J. Timothy Ahlen and J. V. Thomas
Reviewed by Bobby Jamieson

One from the vault: John Hammett's review of The Multi-Site Revolution, by Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird


Book Review: After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion, by Robert Wuthnow
Reviewed by Matt McCullough

Book Review: unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why it Matters, by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Reviewed by Owen Strachan

Book Review: Kindled Fire: How the Methods of C.H. Spurgeon Can Help Your Preaching, by Zack Eswine
Reviewed by Kevin McFadden



Christians and Culture with Ken Myers
Posted on May 1, 2009
Mark Dever asks Ken Myers, host of Mars Hill Audio, about why Christians today are so worldly and yet so obsessed with culture. Does he see any correlation?

College Students and the Local Church
Posted on April 1, 2009
Aaron Messner, college chaplain of Covenant College, discusses the unique challenges and opportunities churches face in reaching college students.



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The Spanish translation of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever and The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander can be purchased here.

The French translation of What is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever can be purchased here.





Toronto Pastors Conference
Toronto, ON
6/1/2009 – 6/3/2009
Mark Dever and Matt Schmucker
The 9Marks workshop material will be taught at this conference

Event: 9Marks at 9


9Marks at 9 at the SBC
Louisville, Kentucky
6/22/09 – 6/23/09
9pm at the Kentucky Exposition Center
Mark Dever, Danny Akin, Mike McKinley, Greg Gilbert, David Platt, and Josh Smith


Event: God Exposed


God Exposed: Awkward Preaching in an Age of Comfort
SEBTS, Wake Forest, North Carolina
9/25/09 – 9/26/09
Mark Dever, Danny Akin, C.J. Mahaney, Thabiti Anyabwile, Mike McKinley


Event: T4G


Together for the Gospel 2010
Louisville, Kentucky
4/13/10 – 4/15/10
Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul

Registration is now open!


Want to host a 9Marks Workshop in your area? The 9Marks website now has a Workshop invitation feature. It contains pages describing what you will hear at a 9Marks Workshop, what's involved in hosting a Workshop, and an online form for requesting this opportunity.

Click here to link to the 9Marks Workshop page.


May/June 2009
© 9Marks

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