The Village Church has been a "multi-site church" since 2007. We
went in that direction reluctantly and with trepidation. I dont have
the space in this article to unpack all the ways we wrestled with the scriptures,
tested our ecclesiology, and, ultimately, believed the Lord was leading us
to go multi-site. In this article I will focus on our thought process in moving
in this direction and then state some of the problems that we believe
might be in the future for us a multi-site church.
A DISCUSSION ABOUT METHODOLOGY, NOT THEOLOGY
When we researched multi-site churches we had a hard time pinpointing concerns
with it because in all the reading we did we rarely came across two churches
that do it the same way. Some use video while others use a teaching team. Some
are one church in multiple locations" while other very different
churches simply share the same teacher via video. The list of differences could
add up to pages of reading. Most of the criticism we found focused almost entirely
on these methodological differences rather than on the issues involved in the
entire philosophy of multi-site churches. For example, we read about how a
multi-site approach would affect the development of young leaders and preachers.
Although some of this was helpful and informative, none of these critiques
addressed all multi-site churches, and they addressed different churches in
different ways. For instance, while the critics consistently argue that multi-site
churches hinder the development of new preachers, we found some multi-site
churches that were using multiple campuses as a way to do just that. So we
were finding that all of the talk centered on approaches to doing multi-site
rather than the theological and philosophical framework for such a movement.
DISCUSSION ABOUT THEOLOGY FROM SILENCE
The theological and philosophical criticism we did find was both limited and
weak. The main criticism we encountered is that the Bible is silent on multi-site.
This is an argument from silence. To say that the Bible doesn't
say anything about such and such and therefore it's wrong to do such
and such" is weak at best and a hypocritical at worst. In the end, it
just isn't compelling. The Bible says nothing at all about cell phones.
Does that mean it's a sin to use one?
WHERE DOES THIS GO?
And so after studying the issue, we decided to go multi-site. Yet we still
have some serious concerns and questions about the multi-site idea even as
we participate in it. The problem that haunts us is a simple one. Where does
this idea lead? Where does this end? Twenty years from now are there fifteen
preachers in the United States?
We have other questions, too. Is multi-site ministry a legitimate use of technology
or an illegitimate one? Will the multi-site idea weaken the church at large
by squashing the diversity of teachers, ideas, and leaders in the west? I'm
not sure I can answer these questions. I know that there are many who are simply peddlers
of God's Word" who are in this thing for themselves and not the
name of our great God or the health of his bride. My hope is that the Spirit
would leverage the proclamation potential and frustrate the peddlers.
Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church in Highland, Texas
(with a satellite campus in Denton, Texas).
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