November 30, 2006

Conversations with a Future Church Planter pt. 3

Here is part 3 in the series: Conversations with a Future Church Planter. This is an e-mail conversation that a friend and I had over the past week or so. I thought it would be good as it begins with one model of ministry, but turns to something deeper and more focused. This is a developing, growing conversation. Please read the rest of the series. Here is the rest of the series. My Friend responded:

I agree with everything you said, but have a slightly stronger stance against multi-site. It seems to be sweeping the country these days, and as someone who would like to plant a church (a real church) someday, I find the idea of being a non-preaching “campus” pastor who supports a one-size-fits-all model extremely distasteful. What is incarnational about a video feed? Why should church be “branded” like Starbucks or McDonalds? You may not know what you’re getting when you visit a local church… it could be a real loser… or it could be innovative, and focused on people in the community… rather than being a slick and professional presentation of God, Inc.

That, to me, is freaking boring… and I’d gladly take my chances with the local flavor!

That may not be entirely true for coffee… but I’ll tell you this much…visiting a town is one thing (Starbucks), but once I find a really good local, innovative coffeehouse, I’ll forsake the Green Mermaid any day…As much as I support Starbucks in my town, it’s only because there are no good locals (yet).

And what happens when another “brand” of church moves into town, and it has a better flavor (better music, slicker preaching) than the multi-site church you dumped thousands of dollars into (rather than birthing a church plant)? The overly-entertained, consumeristic “customers” are going to bail on you, dropping you like a bad habit. In the business world, you’re only popular if you’re the coolest thing in town. New churches have to deal with that too, at least on some level, but not nearly as much as the franchised church movement.


  1. Eric, Although your friends argument here is nothing new when I stumbled across this post I just felt compelled to comment.

    Its obvious that people who hold these views either have a wrong perception (probably never actually visited a multi-site church) or comes from some type of spiritual envy...which is totally un-needed as every multi-site church I know of has planted many more churches than campuses (my church Seacoast has planted over 30 churches in the last 4 years and started 8 campuses)

    Here are just a few brief thoughts I would hope you would consider...

    1. The campus Pastors that bloggers like your friends make seem like blooming idiots just because they do not speak are tremendous leaders and spiritual men that deserve respect. If the fact that a leader does not speak minimalizes them, then 99.9% of christians are minimalized.

    2. The thousands upon thousands of people (about 4000 at Seacoast) who attend these new campuses outside of the original campuses got saved by a real Jesus and attend a Real church. Bloggers with loose words are talking about Churches that have changed people lives and introduced them to Jesus - they deserve respect.

    3. Every multi-site church that I know loves, respects and helps church planters anyway that we can. We put a great deal of resources, give away anything we create ( and lifechurch's open site) and want to help churches plant anyway we can. Seacoast is currently helping a church planter plant a church in Mount Pleasant - the same town as our original campus - because we believe we alone can not hold all of the lost people. I would ask bloggers such as your friend to ask this church planter about what an evil church Seacoast is.

    I know blogs make people meaner and nastier than they would ever be in person, but I would just ask that all the multi-site haters our their remember that we as staff at multi-site churches are on your team, we are real people at real churches that love Jesus and want to help reach as many people as possible and hope that God uses you and us together to bring people to the real Jesus.

  2. Shawn,

    Thank you for your comment. I always appreciate the added perspective. Before we jump to conclusions about my friend's opinion I need to point out two things: My friend is not a blogger, and this a developing conversation which I am posting one piece at a time.

    I put a longer response on your blog.

  3. I felt I needed to add this to my response.

    I am posting this conversation (with my friend's permission) from a private discussion that was not originally intended to be put on a blog. We are discussing an issue, and often what happens in these discussions is that we learn more about ourselves, our positions, and the weaknesses of our position. This conversation is and was an attempt to openly discuss and issue and to look at all sides.

    The intention of this post was not meant to be mean, but merely to demonstrate the progression of a conversation. Critiquing is not being mean. He is looking at something from his viewpoint, I am looking at it from mine, we are making judgment calls that are evaluated and re-evaluated in the process of discussion. I placed this conversation here to show that progression.

  4. Eric,

    My problem with most of the "critique" that goes on in the church blog world and "emerging" etc. is that it is mean. We have lost sight of what it truly means to add value to people in the kingdome and not just rip them with loose words. I hope we can continue our discussion and both come to some real citique and not just staements that are polorizing. In that vain I too sometimes mess up and have changed some of my wording on my orginal post about "hater"...lets keep talking - its healthy.

  5. Found your blog through one of my coworkers (actually we are both campus pastors in a multi-site church). Reading through all of the posts included in your dialog, I am amazed at how minimal your understanding of the multi-site model seems to be. It is NOT all about pre-packaged or piped in messages to people who are "unknowns" to the speaker. Actually all three of our campus pastors (if the Sr. Pastor is included in the mix) share some of the teaching/preaching load but when we do it, it is mostly done from the "broadcast" campus and carried to our other campus sites. Our worship IS live and our sacramental times are meaningful and significant as well because of the quality of the relationship we share with the people in each of our sites.
    Between the three of us we have more than 50 years of pastoral training and experience and all three of us have areas of expertise and passion that we are able to pursue BECAUSE the multi-site model has created the opportunity for us to pursue our individual giftedness and passion AND still serve as the pastor (in the truest sense of the word) to our individual congregations.
    Each of our congregations has its own personality and blending of gifted people that makes the individual congregations unique and self-sufficient in many ways. The added plus (both/and in multi-site speak) is that in addition to the unique congregations that allow a greater number of people to exercise their gifts and passions, we also have the ability to have highly qualified and specialized staff members with a significant amount of experinece leading and teaching in supplemental areas that a small single congregation church could probably not afford to participate in. Unless they choose to team up with a larger church for certain events. We have the blessing of that "teaming-up" on a weekly basis as well as the synergy of a staff of individuals that love each other and encourage each other regularly.
    My congregation of 80-100 people has the benefit of a full-time student ministries pastor, a full-time children's ministry coordinator, full-time small group director and full-time outreach director guiding our multiple efforts to reach out into our community. ALL of those areas are ministries I would have minimal success in at best on my own and would not have the time to purse my passion for worship and spiritual formation that I have in this model.
    I wonder if it isn't time for your young seminary friend to get out and experience a real-world ministry perhaps with a mentor or staff pastor who could love him and walk him into a place where God can effectively use him to fulfill his desire and passion for ministry. Too much training and opinions without the outlet of experience can lead to cranial inflamation. That's been my experinece.

  6. Scott,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know you probably won't revisit this to see the response, but here goes.

    Unfortunately this conversation thread has changed. Besides, my "young" seminary friend is not so young. He wouldn't mind being called young, but has nearly as much experience and training (based on your statement) as all three of you combined. He has many years in the business and church world, and was simply stating his opinion (which is probably much different now). Most of the conversation was off the cuff and really centered around a completely different topic than Multi-site.

    He a response via Shawn Wood's site, but Shawn was not willing to post my his response. If you actually read the posts, he is simply struggling. And he is not alone. Just because you like the model, have found great success in the model, feel it is the best thing since they translated the Bible into the vernacular, does not mean that people agree, and it certainly does not mean that it is THE RIGHT and only way to do things.

    There are many people that I disagree with and dislike their method, but I acknowledge they are doing something great for the kingdom of God. That is his stance too.

    I think you are too close to the situation as he is too far away from the situation to make an accurate judgment. He was also making broad generalizations based on actual observation. I think your assumption that you and your team have more experience than he and that he is young allowed you to make some bad jumps in judgment. Unfortunately for your point of view he has both training and experience, and he was still uncertain as to the model.

    I still find it hilarious that this post has caused this much attention based on a complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation by Shawn!