This weekend I had a Sunday off. Rather than staying in and watching The Big Questions, or sneaking in to the back of church late (along with the rest of the congregation) I decided to visit another local church.
Actually I went to a fairly large, well known church in Brighton, but one of their ‘sites’. I wanted to experience ‘Multi-site Church’. It seems to me that multi-site churches are a fairly recent American important initiated by large church growth combined with improvements in technology.
It’s something that in different forms is used by the churches of a number of leading Pastors, including John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller. Here ‘the Resurgence’ blog asks the question: Are Multi-site churches Biblical? - whatever the answer, I’m not too bothered. I can see good biblical and practical reasoning for multi-site churches, which also has many similarities to a more traditional ‘Minster Model’.
For me the bigger question is that of video preaching, for which I was given two reasons; 1) to share as widely as possible the preaching gift of the lead elder and 2) to free up other leaders to focus on community and pastoral care. These seem like good and right reasons, but I remain unconvinced.
On the first point. It seems to me that something of the power of the preaching gift is lost through the medium of DVD, not to mention being a week behind the main site. The video and audio is good quality, projected large, but you can’t engage with the speaker. Within this I wonder if there is sufficient focus on training new preachers and encouraging elders to be preaching and teaching, that is their role after all. Some call it ‘specialisation’ of elders, personally it seems like a bit of a cult of the preacher.
As for the question of community and care, again the point seems valid. However, I’m convinced that the best preachers are also those who are thoroughly committed to their pastoral role. Spending time with people is going to shape how we apply and direct God’s word. Which is why the specialisation argument just doesn’t work… elders need to be pastoring, not just through preaching and not just through care.
I like the idea of multi-site, one church, sharing resources, reaching more people. But I don’t like video preaching. A better model I feel is the one used by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, multi-site but with live preaching from a preaching team on the same passages.