Convince Me

I feel like I’m on the verge of becoming a “grumpy old man” (well, let’s face it, I already am one), but I feel like I am watching the Church continue to dabble in error.

I have yet to be convinced in any form or fashion that the “multi-site” movement in the church is profitable in the long run.

Descending quickly to the bottom line, and unflinchingly showing my cards, I’ll declare that any movement to restrain the growth and development of the incarnational church is suspicious to me. Any object or paradigm that comes between the God’s children in need and the pastors who are to shepherd them is problematic, and the reason that the multi-site approach is nefarious is that — at least in part — it is predicated on the idea that the “church” exists in one community, while the “sheep” in another community.

How can this be good?

“But there are pastors who would be located in that community.” Okay, that’s good. What will they be doing? This is where the debate gets really murky, because in some cases they appear to be shepherds who take care of people, in others they will teach.

If they will teach, why not just declare the “site” a plant, and be done with it? Allow it to grow up with its own ethos, its own roots and style, its own giftedness.

Why not allow it to be free?

If the teaching will be “on screen”, then that brings a whole host of other questions. While employing the tools of culture to reach folks, “screen teaching” seems to unnecessarily cater to “passive learning” that some theologians and cultural commentators find so troubling.

In my opinion, it returns me to a similar thought I had a year ago: this is reflective of the church’s priorities. What does it say about us? Does it say we are interested in developing creative leaders and teachers, in allowing the Church to grow and flourish in localized and individual expressions? Or does it say that we are interested in control, in technology over gifts, in haste over patience.

Couldn’t the long-term health of the church be served as well by waiting another 12 – 18 months to develop the right leader for a localized, incarnational expression of the church, rather than pressing play on a DVD or a web stream?