"I do miss having a pastor at the door shaking hands in the 'check-out line,' " says Lauren Green, drawn to join Redeemer by Keller's preaching. "But I realize that model of a personal relationship with a particular pastor is probably gone."...There is a bit of paradox in this "multi-site" discussion. Pastor-centered churches, whether large or small, are unhealthy. The same is true where the pastoral presence is distant or underdeveloped. Healthy pastors work to keep themselves from becoming the center of church life. But at the same time they are personally and fully engaged with the people whom they lead and to whom they preach. It all has to do with the relational nature of the gospel and our theology of the incarnation.
Green recognizes, "We're just not looking for that kind of relationship with a pastor anymore. Today, it's all about a personal relationship with God, not the culture of a church. And a megachurch or a multisite church can still offer this. If you are there to hear a message and it's a powerful one, it shouldn't matter how it's delivered."
"Even if people are just watching the senior pastor on a screen, they are still gathering, as the Bible commands, they are still serving the poor, engaging in worship and study, and encouraging one another," says Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Research in Nashville, which studies church trends. ~ USA Today story about multisite churches
The real issue isn't whether churches can function with multi-sites (they can!) but rather, what is the nature and role of healthy pastoral ministry?
Simple. Pursue "pastor" as a verb (gift) and not a noun (form).
Green's comment concerns me because it seems to evidence lack of understanding of scriptural priorities. A person with godly, pastoral, Christ-like authority leads as did Christ in serving, discipling, shepherding ("pastoring" in the verb, as Jeff notes), and modeling service of God and others in spiritual formation. No members of the Body may spectate rather than participate in love, service and living obediently from faith. If life emanates from loving and serving God & others as God-in-Christ has loved and served us, then how are each of us being Christ's Body in this venue? Who are we following in the paths of righteousness? Are we impatient of anyone who dares throw us off our time-table and program? Do we need to be wary of naming gatherings "Church" which resemble theatrical productions, and what happens there as "worship" when there are lead actors, staging, script, music and media? Our personal relationship with God should be reflected in relationships with one another, otherwise we risk becoming individual consumers of "god-feelings" rather than a community living out corporate worship of God in their relationships with each other and their love for God and neighbor.
Ann! Brilliant insight. "Impatient" indeed. When the less predictable stands out from the predictable, we tend to bristle. But - uh - someone who walked about a couple of millennia ago personified this for us. And it's OK
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