We continue our conversation about multi-site churches today. I always enjoy the comments and email. Through the conversation, my own thinking on the subject is becoming more clear. I wish we could hear from someone who attends or leads a multi-site church in order to get a sense of their perceptions. As a member of a church that does some things differently than most in my fellowship, I’ve come to learn that the benefits of some things are much deeper than the simple act itself. No one can articulate the fullness of an experience like those who have, well, experienced it. Anyway, here we go…
1. Multi-site churches seem to be built around a personality. A couple of years ago, I was driving in my car with Brian McLaren riding shotgun (yes, I’m dropping names), and we saw a billboard for a multi-site church here in Houston that had a huge picture of the Sr. Pastor on it. I shared with Brian my reservations about the kind of multi-siting they were doing and Brian said, “Well, they have a product, and he is it. He’s what they’re selling.” I’m sure Brian wouldn’t remember that conversation, but I do. Unfortunately, some church leaders seem to be saying, “Hey, come be a part of my empire.” Again, my training and impulse would lead to planting new churches rather than reproducing.
2. Multi-site churches seem to go to silly lengths to justify being multi-site churches. I recently read a paper justifying multi-site churches. The authors mention that one kind of multi-site church occurs when a church host a service in nursing home. Come on! A service by church members in a retirement community is a little different than 500 folks in a movie theater watching a sermon on video. I remember when I worked as a telemarketer. The owners of the business said that when someone ordered a pizza for delivery then that was telemarketing. Really? The same thing? When you call people at home during dinner they don’t think it’s the same thing. Trust me! Similar actions aren’t always the same thing. Why go through the all the hoops to justify?
3. Multi-site churches do what they do well. Much that is done in many local churches is done poorly. This is the simple truth. Every multi-site church I know appears to function at a high level, with great accountability, and high competency. All churches need to learn from them. They do the gospel a service by giving it the attention and value it deserves. Any of us who have witnessed worship leaders selecting songs right before the church service begins (as I did as a kid) knows that too much of what happens is some churches is far too casual and poorly done.
4. Multi-site churches are taking full advantage of the full arsenal of technologies that God has made available. Good church leaders know that to best communicate we have to speak to people on their own terms and in ways they know and understand. We live in a screen world — computers, TV’s, navigation devices, iPods, news, sports scores and internet on cell phones, etc… Multi-site church leaders now this and they are using it to the best of their ability.
What are your pros and cons?