Christianity Today posed this question to a number of leading ecclesiological thinkers and got a number of interesting answers (HT: 9Marks). I recommend you check the whole thing out (it’s just two pages).
What I found most striking among the answers is that only once was the Bible directly referenced. Even then, no text was mentioned. Now, many of the folks cited on this list do in fact tie their ministries to Scripture. I know some of them, and they are faithful men. In addition, their remarks were likely given in edited form. But I can’t help but notice that in the multi-site/church-planting discussion, the question of context, or pragmatics, or current trends often drives the conversation.
We don’t want to do a “quote-the-Bible-or-else” kind of sniff test on this subject, but it does seem to require at least some reference to the Scripture, doesn’t it? Whatever you favor (I favor church planting), that seems important. Even if you go all in for a multi-site model, aren’t you at least going to claim that the Episcopalian model, with a kind of bishopric overseeing multiple campuses (whoops! I almost said “churches”), derives from Scripture? Yet I don’t always see that kind of argument–or even any kind of scriptural argument popping up in some of these discussions.
Christians have been disagreeing about these matters for centuries–and they still are. The Bible clearly requires us to dig hard in order to construct a biblical model of church polity. As we seek to honor the Lord by building up the saved and reaching the lost, we would do well to center our discussions–and disagreements–in Scripture.