Sunday, June 15

Multi-site churches

Ed Stetzer and Geoff Surratt are having a friendly debate about the multi-site church concept.

MULTI-SITE CHURCHESAs I see it, multi-site churches are just another variation on the denominational theme -- although these neo-denominational structures are built more around musical style and strong branding than doctrinal issues or approaches.

I can see some strengths in the model but I'm concerned that the model is dependent on the consumeristic tendencies in our culture. Will these churches ever become truly prophetic? Can they be?

I'm also concerned (and this reflects my own theological bias) that the approach often leads to a separation of Word from sacrament. The person who leads in the Word is often not the person who leads in the sacraments. What are we saying when we separate and compartmentalize these aspects of faith?

Likewise, in the preaching itself -- the preacher (if using a video feed) really knows very little of the congregation -- relationally speaking. The only relationship between speaker and congregation is virtual. And this might be okay if Christianity were merely a set of principles or propositions to be embraced. But Christianity by nature is highly relational and highly incarnational ("The Word became flesh and lived among us..."). The incarnation is the missional DNA for everything that happens as the church seeks to become a faithful witness to and participant in the kingdom of God.

The more virtual the connection between preacher and congregation the more we move toward a form of modern Gnosticism. In this sense the emergence of the multi-site congregation is often a step in the wrong direction.


Erika Haub said...

Great questions and comments. Thanks for this!

theultrarev said...

Wonder if you might elaborate on "move toward a form of modern Gnosticism." Could you elaborate on your understanding of Gnosticism and how this is like that? Thanks.

Brad Boydston said...

Gnostic in the sense that spiritual connection primarily occurs in a state of disembodiment -- as opposed to a robust Christian materialism where faith is lived out in the physical realm.