Why Do Multi-Site When You Can Plant?

churchplantingChristianity 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.

(Image: 218Consulting)

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  • Dan

    In my opinion, this is something that the scripture is by and large silent on. I’m no scholar, but it seems to me like they did church back in the New Testament era in many ways, from meeting in a synagogue to houses…lots of ways.

    I’m not a fan of multi-site campuses, but I’m not a fan of mega-churches either, so I don’t know if I’m unbiased or not. Either way, I’m just not sure we’re going to see a lot of Biblical evidence for any of our current methods.

  • Amen Owen. Thanks for the link and commentary.

    I think it is unfortunate that each respondent was given so little space to state their opinion. I agree that this is not a trivial concern and one that deserves should substantive, Biblical, reflection.

  • elnwood

    Owen, what bible verses would you cite in favor or against multi-site churches as opposed to church planting?

  • Reaching the lost should be the job of every church, established or new. Please consider my outreach plan in book, (The Cross and the Psychiatrist)! See it at amazon.com or google it. Terry

  • Owen,

    I initially had the same response as you, that pragmatics seem to be driving the ship with multi-campus. While that may be true for some churches, I have been impressed that others have taken a thorough approach to the matter, studying Scripture extensively.

    Bethlehem Baptist, Sojourn and Mars Hill (Seattle) come to mind as those who are being careful to be biblically faithful. I still don’t like multi-campus and at this point would not serve on a multi-campus church staff. I would also push for no multi-service. But I do think the churches I mentioned believe there is freedom in the area of multi-campus and think such an approach is the wisest thing they can do.