November 29, 2006

Conversations with a Future Church Planter pt. 2

Yesterday, I began this series with this post.

Here is the rest of the series.

Here is my response to my friend's e-mail.

I have never been a proponent of the multi-site movement. I think it has its benefits, but I have reasons other than "brand" identity.

My reason revolve around the "calling" of the pastor and the personal interaction. In multi-site arrangements, the preaching is via video, and makes preaching a "professional" event. God uses un-professional people, speaking from their hearts about God's work to change lives. Glossy preachers, even though they are very good, remove the personal aspect. They also remove the life experience and all that god has done in the "pastors" life from the environment.

I don't totally disagree with it. I think there are times and places, but as a brand-promotion thing, I don't like it.

I once thought of using a satellite type thing when I was in my first church plant. But I wasn't going to use video preaching. I was going to plant multiple sites as the planter/preacher for each site, and then eventually turn them over to someone else.

Despite people's dislike for the Starbuck's brand, they certainly haven't stopped buying the coffee. They may not be blogging from Starbucks because they charge for WIFI. But if you are traveling across country, most people stop at Starbucks because they know there is a standard of excellence.

What do you think?


  1. I believe there is a church called "New Life" down in Virginia Beach, VA that uses the multi-site approach, but each congregation is pastored by a different pastor who came from the planting churches congregation. From what I understand, although everyone is part of "New Life Church", each church has its own feel.

    I agree on the video preaching thing, it seems so cold and impersonal. It's just like watching a semminar or conference on video, it's just not the same as seeing the person interact live.

  2. I should also add that each pastor from each congregation preaches and there is no "Max Hedrom Pastor." Of course we all remember Max Headrom -- the stuttering replica of a real man's head that talks. Not the best thing for preaching.

  3. Eric,
    It seems you are honestly willing to learn so I am going to give you some of the basic arguments against your thinking.

    First is the "max hedrom" comment. Why is it assumed that because a speaker is on video he is robotic, unfeeling and not able to connect with people? Unless you are against all "Big" churches (over 500) I would assume that you do not have a problem with IMAG in these churches. This is simply the speaker being on a scren so people in a larger auditorium can see them better. What is the difference? In our campuses people laugh as much, cry as much and respond as much as they do at the live venue.

    2. Your second argument is one that has been made many times but that I still just can nt understand. This is the idea that somehow the only "saint" that can care for and minister to a church is the speaking pastor. As a church planter I do not just assume but know that you would agree with Ephesians that the goal is that the "Saints would do the work of the ministry". Because of the multi-site model there are more people serving, more people doing ministry and far less reliance on one pastor to do all of the work of the ministry. This it would seem is actually carrying out the Ephesians mandate better than a church of 400 where everyone looks to the speaking pastor to teach, care, guide and love for them.

    3. We are not starbucks. If any of the people who have misperceptions about multi-site would ever actually visit one they would be able to speak intelligently. We have regional flavor, different personalities in our campus pastors and overall each campus cares deply about their communities and seeks to reach them. We simply leverage a few DNA elements of a tried and true methodology and resources of a large organization to help these regional flavors taste even better. We have very sharp leaders in our campus pastor positions who would not be satisfied just being puppets on a string for some wizard behind a curtain.

    4. Fianally its Both and not one or the other. For some reason everyone seems to think we have to descide whats better, multi-site of church planting. Thats like asking, "whats better the arm or the leg", we need both to be an effective body. In the words of the great theologian Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along".

  4. Shawn,

    Hang in there, there is more to come. I absolutely believe that multi-site has a good purpose by good people-most of the time. I think you will find that my thoughts grow too as this discussion goes further.

    I hold on to the role and person of the speaking pastor, but I understand your point.

    I think you are ascribing some of my friends thoughts to me. I did not say anything about "Max Hedroom." And I absolutely did not say that only a "saint" can care for the people-I believe that God calls a pastor to shepherd and to lead a group of people, but I did not say that a pastor had to do all the work.

  5. I see where you got the "Max Headrom" thing. That is a different "Eric." My posts and responses are displayed as "eric wright."