20 April 2012

Trueman, MacDonald and Multisite


At the Reformation 21 blog, Carl Trueman, Departmental Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, has offered some thoughts on the current trend of multisite churches. He observes that most multisite churches “pipe in” the preaching via video stream, yet employ live bands at each individual site. In regard to this observation, Trueman writes:
Yet in so doing, it seems to me that such ministries are conceding the importance of presence – of real, physical presence – to the gathering of the church. They are also begging the question: why have a real band when the most important thing, the preaching, can be beamed in? Or is it that the preaching is no longer the most important thing?
Immediate presence is important for both the preacher and the congregation. Trueman continues:
The preacher who pipes himself in to numerous sites needs to ask himself if, by doing so, he loses the key elements of subtle dialogue and direct confrontation with a physically present congregation which are so important; the congregation satisfied with a video pastor needs to ask if its satisfaction is in part related to the absence of the man, an absence which inevitably tames that confrontational element which is such an important part of what Luther called ‘the word which comes from outside.’
Coincidentally, James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel has also recently published some thoughts on "Multisite and Fruitfulness." Needless to say, he takes an opposing view. MacDonald writes:
While the Scripture commands us in 1 Peter 5:2 to shepherd the flock of God, Ephesians 4 instructs that the pastor-teacher is to equip the saints for the works of ministry, rather than hoarding those responsibilities personally. Those who are effective in that duty frequently see their congregation grow beyond the number that one pastor could shepherd anyway. 

In the multi-site model, the primary preacher has entrusted the direct discipling and care of the majority to other pastors and volunteers. But that same thing happens in a church with more than 200, regardless of how many services or locations they gather in. To argue that a church cannot be shepherded biblically unless all the sheep appear to see you preach live, simply denies that reality.
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7 comments:

  1. What is wrong with people? Churches want to be entertained? We have a command to GO out into the world and make disciples. I'm not against us going to Church. But our churches are getting so full of people to be entertained Sunday after Sunday. People need to GET out there and tell people about Jesus.
    There are millions of people who are going to HELL and they have never once heard of the name JESUS!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ylpkIhrgBg&feature=player_embedded

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  2. I believe that this multisite is unfortunate development that takes away by seemingly giving more to more... I am in the church with solid preaching, at least by a senior pastor. The church went from one main site to three: main plus two satellites... It is different.

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  3. He's a slippery one, that James MacDonald.

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  4. It fits the business model of Warren and Hybels (actually Drucker, which they follow), basically the Pastors are opening up another store to sell product. What CEO would give up control of one of their stores? They just have a video conference call every Sunday!

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    1. they have phone Conferences at my workplace. Next it will be video.

      I'm being facetious here but --Why should people even go to Church when they can just have this "video conference on their very own TV at home? Don't have to get dressed or waste gas and can stay in their pj's and lay on their couch...

      But this is a slippery slope. What's next? a charge for it being in your home and they've made their money and selling their product.

      Mat 25:5 "The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

      Jesus' return can't be far off.

      AS it says in 1 Th 5:7-8 "For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet."

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  5. James MacDonald uses biblical texts to show his point while Carl Trueman's article was more of an opinion piece (no biblical references). As long as pastors are teaching in a way that is bionically sound, then it's up to the member(s) if they want to attend a single campus church or multi-campus.

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  6. James Macdonald's timing of his blog (article) on Multisite and fruitfulness was purely coincidental and had nothing to do with (or in response to) Trueman's article. Just like last year when he publish the article re "congregational government is from Satan" after a local church voted down merging with HBC.

    I do see a point with Trueman's article on the music vs. preaching thing regarding multisite. Maybe the multisite is just a rrealyyyyyyyy slowwwwwwww church planting strategy (as suggested in a video with Dever, Macdonald and Driscoll discussing this same topic)

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