Monday, October 30, 2006

On Multi-Site Churches

Leadership Network asked me to work with them to put together a piece designed to help church leaders who are considering going multi-site, which has just been published

Some have commented that the emerging church phenomenon is partly a response to the megachurch movement. As a consequence, doubtless the megachurch to multi-site church shift that's currently happening in over 1000 churches in North America will not be viewed favorably by some in the emerging church conversation.

I see the expansion of the multi-site church as spiritually agnostic. It intrinsically isn't a good thing or a bad thing. The value of the growth of the multi-site movement toggles on the mission, health, and motivation of the individual churches doing the expansion. It's easy for me to see how an individual pastor's decision to move his church to multi-site might primarily be an expression of his desire to establish his own dominion on earth. On the other hand, the move to multi-site could be a more efficient means for a healthy, dynamic, life-changing church to extend its kingdom-impacting reach.

I lump local church setup, megachurch, and multi-site church organizations all under the same category: they are means of increasing efficiency. I see the local church, the megachurch, and multi-site churches as potential contexts for spiritual stuff. The building of buildings, the setting up of organizational connections between disparate locations, the hiring of staff, etc. - none of those things are the spiritual stuff. They are part of the context within which spiritual events - expressions of love and worship - may or may not occur. (I'm not suggesting that the hammering of a nail can't be a similar expression). The value of the local church, the megachurch, and the multi-site church is contingent on the maturity, passion, giftedness, and motivation of those who set them up. Mature leaders realize that local church, megachurch, and multi-site church organizations are tools for kingdom impact.

And some of these multi-site churches are doing great things. One such church I interviewed sent $1 million dollars last year to Waveland, MS after Katrina hit. When I was interviewing them, Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon were at war. This same church was preparing relief teams to go to both Lebanon and Israel.

The kingdom work of a house church with 14 members is not to be depreciated. But neither is the kingdom work of a far larger organization.

I've expanded on some of these thoughts in the Next-Wave article When the Church is its Own Worst Enemy.

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