Monday, October 3, 2011

Mike Horton on Multi-Site Churches

Over at the The White Horse Inn Dr. Mike Horton weighs in on the multi-site church model that is now sweeping across the land. 

Unfamiliar term?  Well consider this thumbnail sketch: well-known pastor of a mega-church wants to expand his ministry.  Through the 'miracle' of technology he can do that without leaving his own congregation.  Through a satellite uplink he can broadcast himself and his sermon to any number of locales either within a metropolitan area or beyond.  The local site may or may not have its own worship leader and praise band.  Usually there is an assistant pastor from the main church present -- Why, I'm not sure except to oversee the administration of the Lord's Supper.  Thus, people don't need to drive 30 miles to hear their favorite preacher they only need to find the closest site where the sermons are downloaded live. 

Horton addresses this topic from the perspective of church government.  He finds it to be heirarchical, which is contrary to both Presbyterianism and Congregationalism.  The former is predicated on shared, representative leadership expressed through elders.  Such churches are 'connected' to other churches through Presbyteries (regional bodies) and General Assemblies (national bodies).  The latter is predicated on the belief that the local church governs its own affairs with every member having a vote.  His analysis, like always, is worth reading. 

I have written about this as well coming at it from a slightly different angle.  In the multi-site approach I see entrepreneurism being expressed as churches employ the 'franchise model' of doing church.  The well-known pastor and his church are the 'product'.  They seek to expand 'market share' by opening up new sites where the 'product' can be 'sold'.  Franchising is predicated on consistency of product and service.  The satellite link provides the first ingredient.  The assistant pastor (read 'hired hand') provides the second. 

You can read my earlier posts here and here.  Also click on "Church Growth" at the right to find similiar articles. 


Jonathan said...

Your analysis and Horton's go hand in hand. The entrpreneurial nature of multi-site churches is essentially capitalistic, and it therefore becomes hierarchical of necessity. The company that markets its product best and gives people what they want at low cost and commitment naturally rises to the top and gains power and prestige over against its competitors.

Little can be more averse to a biblical ecclesiology than this.

Dave Sarafolean said...

Thanks Jonathan!

sbo said...

I realize those are forsbobet doggies but I would be hard pressed not to eat one ;)