We Can, But Should We?
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Technology continues to advance at a pace that renders every new smartphone, tablet computer, gadget, gizmo, and doohickey obsolete almost upon purchase. And for every successful product—one that actually makes it on the shelf and turns a profit—there have to be ___ failed attempts. That’s why we take a bit of a “wait and see” approach to innovation here at Grace to You. We’re not about to jeopardize our stewardship by riding on the bleeding edge of every new fad that comes down the pike.
Has anyone else noticed how many new and innovative approaches to ministry have become commonplace in evangelical conversation? If you attend one of many faithful, biblically-sound churches around the country, you’re probably scratching your head. But let me mention just a few I’ve noticed over the past year or so.
--Multisite churches are now all the rage. If you don’t know what that means, you’re better off for it. Still, if you’d like to know, take a look at this tutorial. No matter what that video claims, there is no biblical justification for multisite church ministry, where satellite congregations watching the main preacher’s pulpit ministry remotely via video screen. Technology makes multisite possible, but is it spiritually beneficial for the saints of God?
--It would seem that to accommodate the multisite model, some are trifurcating the duties of a pastor into categories of prophet (preacher, exhorter), priest (counselor, encourager), and king (visionary, overseer, administrator). Never mind that those are roles, only fulfilled by Christ, not biblical categories for different kinds of leaders. Here’s my question: Doesn’t the biblical elder/pastor strive to follow the Chief Shepherd in being all those things to his congregation?
--What qualifies as biblical preaching these days is clear evidence of pulpit decline. There truly is a famine in the land. But that’s not what groupies, fans, and followers think. Taking hype, celebrity, and conference appearances as proof-positive that “this guy is solid, deep, and theologically sound,” many are unable to discern that their favorite preacher keeps missing the point of the passage. If the Holy Spirit’s intended meaning isn’t communicated in the sermon, you can be assured that is not solid, deep, or theologically sound.
--The departure from biblical authority in church ministry has led to at least two closely-connected errors: unqualified leadership and an appeal to personal experience for validation. The biblical qualifications for church leadership (1 Tim. 3, Tit. 1) don’t seem to be that important, so long as you have a good dream, vision, or voice-from-God story that justifies your deal, you get a pass on the qualifications. And has anyone noticed how charismatic theology goes unchallenged? Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology is excellent, mostly; he’s got some serious problems with the exegesis underpinning his charismatic views.
So, the question is not, “Can we do church, ministry, leadership, church planting, etc. in this way or that?” Advancing technology has opened many vistas of new possibility, so, of course we can. The better question, the righteous question, is this: “Should we do thus and such in ministry?
The “should” question indicates accountability to a greater standard. And if it’s church ministry we’re talking about, that standard is sola scriptura. You won’t find the flavor of the month in churches submitted to the biblical model of ministry (of which there are many, even if they are small and unknown), but it’ll save you from having to trade out your shiny new ministry gadget every year or two as well. Just think about what God can build over the course of your life when you trust and obey the old standard to do its transforming work in your life and church.
We’ll consider what that standard has to say in coming posts.
Director of Internet Ministry
#1 Posted by
Gabriel Powell | Wednesday, January 04, 2012at
Looking forward to it!
#2 Posted by
Lisa Lofland | Wednesday, January 04, 2012at
Funny that this article comes up this week....I became a christian in '04 and began attending a baptist church, it just happened to be where I had access, I didn't care as long as I could learn more about God! I went for about 4 yrs I think, when I had first started they were in the middle of getting a new pastor....long drawn out process, had a stand-in preacher and, like I said, I didn't care! I was just excited about my new life in Christ! Sunday school was awesome, a little cheesy maybe at times, but there was real love and fellowship and growth, just awesome people of God! Eventually a pastor was chosen, everything was wonderful. I guess a year passed and the sermons were repeats, from the year before--as always, I had so much zeal and I didn't let it get to me....then the associate pastor basically was fired, abruptly and we were shocked! He couldn't bring himself to cast the pastor in a bad light, he kept quiet and just continued teaching a sunday school class, then he was barred from that....I then began to sit up and take notice, and oh how I prayed for our pastor....it became so stale and I finally left after 8 mths of praying and pleading for God to somehow bring forgiveness, to bring His "touch" back or something! The last sermon I became so instantly angry at hearing about how we were "dead baptists" that I knew I wasn't coming back...I'm still in touch with people that were there, I have heard that several left, they were leaving before I left. Yet still we've never bashed the pastor, I'm friends with him on facebook, but I began to check out a non denominational church that I had previously avoided, I listened and watched several sermons online before ever attending. Told God and myself that if they didn't praise Him in their worship, if it was somehow ungodly worship then I wouldn't return. I found it to be wonderful and challenging and excellent performances musically, they would do one secular song and incorporate it into the sermon...it was really pretty cool, he didn't water down the word, believe it or not! Dynamic and exciting vision....my career changed, travelled a lot and the different times made it convenient to attend....but no sunday school made me sad...then relocation 1100 miles away, took me to another very small church, much like it. What I'm trying to say is that I know God is using some of these churches, He connected me with one here. I just this week realized, though, that the sermons being very articulate and all, leave only the pastor "going deep" and us watching, letting the sunday school go and expecting us to "go deep" on our own in connect groups, or small groups has left a huge hole in my heart. We are just not truly applying it, or coming together and developing what we have heard further, we aren't holding each other accountable or going over the word precept by precept. I've decided to go where there is Sunday School! And structure! I believe the "new" churches need to go back to basics...I am
#3 Posted by
Gabriel Powell | Wednesday, January 04, 2012at
I watched that tutorial on multi-site churches, plus a couple of the related videos. It deeply saddens me that an attempt is made to compare modern multi-site churches to NT churches. It demonstrates the desperation and utter lack of biblical discernment those leaders have. To hear Mark Driscoll quote 1 Peter 1:1 and claim that was a multi-site church is beyond comprehension.
It's tragic that some of the most popular pastors in America don't have a biblical understanding of the church. But... I suppose Paul told us to prepare for such a time as this.
#4 Posted by
Denise Grimes | Wednesday, January 04, 2012at
I've notice it too, Travis. Pragmatism instead of Scripture is what runs most of these things. Instead of sticking to the simplicity and power of the Word regarding evangelism, ecclessiology (sp?), sanctification, and leadership, they run to the world and appeal to the flesh. And these gadgets and fads actually complicate things. (Think what would happen if the electricity went out, they wouldn't be able to have church services or "ministries".)
One trend I have noticed too, as you mentioned, is this worldly notion of specialty-pastors. Like doctors, they have become "specialized" (pastor of: education, assimilation, children's ministries, worship, drama/arts (!), evangelism, missions, administration, counseling, technology (I kid you NOT, there IS such a thing over at Acts 29)). There is hardly a man that has a General Practice now. (This isn't happening at just the multi-site churches, but just the larger churches in general.) Creating their own little niche, they pass the baton on to someone else if the need doesn't fall into their speciality. Moreover the flock will gain that mentality too for themselves--specializing in only one area and refusing to help in another regardless if its their gift. We are all to be equipped to help out each other in our local church, and where we are weaker, the one with that gift can help us become stronger in that area. That's the beauty of accountability and TRUE fellowship in the local church.
As a passing note, I've seen some "church" try to do an Internet baptism. Can you believe that??
#5 Posted by
Robert Anderson | Wednesday, January 04, 2012at
I don't really think that smartphone, tablet computer, and notebooks PCs fit into the same category as a new fad, gadget and gizmo. I believe that PCs are part of life in 2012 just as Television became part of our lives back in the 1940s and 50s. I love my smartphone and my notebook PC. I can keep in touch with my family and friends from just about anywhere I travel. I have a wrath of unlimited resources at my finger tips at home in my study, at the church, or while flying from place to place in an jet plane. One can read the Bible in every translation and language out there, correspond, witness, or write a sermons from just about anywhere in the world with a 10" notebook PC and with many smart phones. That is amazing. I don't think it makes any difference if you read the Holy Bible from your smart phone, notebook or a hard copy. The PC, smart phone, TV nor radio does not take the place of "church", nor is it intended to. God is the one who does the work. We just put the info. out there. I believe God can work through smart phones and PCs just as he does news papers, radios, Television. As they say,Going to a church building does not save anyone any more than going to McDonald makes turns anyone into a hamburger. Just ask the thief on the cross.
#6 Posted by
Christine Moriarty | Wednesday, January 04, 2012at
Lisa, I like your heart for God's word and desiring to know and learn more about God. You're also discerning about biblically based churches. We found such a church when we became Christians and were led by an interim pastor to another church when we moved that was just what we were looking for. Being taught God's word and what it means, learning about context, intent of writers, history, manuscripts, Adult Sunday School, bible study groups and much more. Truth, the bible being the 'final court of arbitration' instead of what feels good or people wish it meant because of desires of the flesh. We did attend, one time, a legalistic church that dissed John MacArthur, Billy Graham and other solid preachers/teachers for not using the KJV only as God's word. You will be led to a good church and know it when you're there.
#8 Posted by
Pete Orta | Wednesday, January 04, 2012at
Biblically and physically a pastor can not "shepherd" a multi-site church. It's like letting the television raise your kids. Bible Einstein DVD's for adults!
#10 Posted by
Jamie Stallings | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
You have seriously missed the whole point! Please reread the post again but this time start with the second paragraph.
#11 Posted by
Roger Burns | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
I agree with your premise, that multi-site church leadership is difficult as it is removed from the shepherding and accountability ministry defined by Scripture.
I am curious though ... how is what GTY is doing any different? You definitely endorse a broadcast ministry. Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? As GTY disseminates the Gospel and the Word through DVD, internet, radio, etc., how are you able to follow up on your ministry and engage the recipients?
Again, I think what you are raising valid concerns and I am definitely not a proponent of "broadcasting church." However, it may be that these churches are just finding a way to expand upon the ministry model that GTY has had for decades. Am I in error in seeing this connection?
#12 Posted by
Fred Butler | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
GTY is different in that we do not consider our radio ministry as a replacement for a local fellowship. GTY is more of a supplement for Christians who are already a part of a local church.
Travis is not arguing against the use of technology as a means of exhorting the brethren or evangelizing the lost. Certainly technology has it's usefulness in those areas. It is a problem when we allow the ease of technology to replace the God ordained means of worship and fellowship at a local church that is outlined in Scripture. It is those "ordained" means that Travis will be highlighting.
#13 Posted by
Howard Stanley | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
Well, it seems that in this modern age that we live in, we have the resources of the world at our fingertips, and all that we need to do is but wave our hands, and the whole world is literally right in front of us. We have instant communication where we can instantly upload pictures to websites, letting all our friends know what we’re doing, we can surf the internet from our phones, we have i-pods and i-tunes for music, i-pads for computing, i-phones for communicating. You can now do work anywhere with your i-pad, while looking up the latest game scores on your i-phone, and at the same time, talking to your wife on the phone while listening to your own life’s soundtrack on you i-pod... If technologies keep improving at the pace that they are currently, then this is the first, true generation of “I.” To those born into this level of technology, it is so easy to wrap your world around yourself, placing yourself in the center of your own universe.
The very first lie that Satan told was to Eve in the Garden of Eden, he said: “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” (Genesis 3:5) The idea here is that through “things,” man can receive enlightenment that leads him to be the god of his own little world. (the divinity of man) Folks may never come right out and say that they are the god of their own little world, but it is striking to see how so many people use technologies given to them to center their world around themselves. (“entitlement generation?”)
I think that Agur could see this one coming when he wrote in Psalm 30:7-9 – “Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.” Like money, there is no inherent wrong in technology in and of itself, but rather the evil lies in how we use them. “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…” (1 Timothy 6:10) There is a balance in how we use our money, and there is a balance in how we use technologies. Truly, whenever we feel that we could not possibly go through our day without using our ____ , then we love that thing far too much.
It is so easy to witness for Christ to those in the third world, and yet so difficult to witness to our own neighbors. To those in the third world, it is so easy for them to believe in a Redeemer, because they can see so easily, first hand, the results of a sinful world. To our neighbors, we all have it so easy here, with possessions and technology, that when you beg them to be saved, they respond: “saved from what?” Truly, Satan has used technologies of this world as a weapon to convince the lost that they have nothing to be saved from – they, themselves are the god of their own little world, enlightenment has fallen on all through their little gadgets, and they have "no need of a Redeemer."
#14 Posted by
Paul Schnell | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
While on a contract job in Seattle, I attended (once) a satellite location which was part of the Mars Hill multi-site church. I was, essentially, anonymous. I filled out a guest card, but was greeted by no one personally. The folllow-up email asked if I had a good time and directed me to a Facebook-like website. I think the multi-site environment leads to that distance since the shepherd is not physically present. If we are meeting to watch a sermon on video, how is that much different from going to a movie? There simply is no substitute for meeting together under a local under-shepherd.
#15 Posted by
C Dickason | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
Agree with the post with this one exception re the 3 offices of Christ (prophet, priest, king). The Heidelberg Catechism in Q/A 31 lays out why the Son is called Christ (annointed) with the 3 offices. Then this is related to us, called "christians" in Q/A 32:
Q. Why are you called a Christian?
A. Because I am a member of Christ by faith and thus share in His anointing, so that I may as prophet confess His Name, as priest present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him, and as king fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter reign with Him eternally over all creatures.
This actually reinforces the point that a pastor does not build a ministry on only 1 office.
Translation from the Canadian Reformed Churches
#16 Posted by
Roger Burns | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
To Fred #12
Yes, I agree with your distinction and thanks for making that clear. My bad ;-). As I contemplate what GTY does, I recognize that it serves as an outreach and also as an extension of what is being done in the Shepherd's Conferences as equipping and enabling those already in ministry. I know I have benefited from the resources and would miss having them available. I also see that GTY has sufficiently encouraged people to participate in a local church ministry.
Having said that ... I want to "cut and paste" a comment from my Facebook profile that a good friend shared. I believe his arguments are very salient. I posted a link to this article and asked for feedback. I will let him know that I have done so, this way, he can chime in further if he wishes.
"The only possible justification for multi-sight church is in the absence of qualified elders and teachers. Other than that scenario it seems to me that the entire multi-sight model has made the same error the Corinthians made (I Cor. 1-3) in preferring on Spirit gifted teacher over another. Paul rebukes them for forming personality clicks and only wanting to be taught by Apollos or by Paul.
All the arguments used today to justify putting one man’s giftedness in eclipse over other gifted teachers in a church could have been made in Paul’s day to prioritize Appolls and his eloquence over Paul and his lack of formal speaking ability. After all, is it likely that unbelievers would want to come hear such an un-eloquent man as Paul speak? Wouldn’t the gospel advance more with such a winsome and gifted man as Apollos speaking? The answer Paul gives is an emphatic “NO”. He actually makes quite the opposite conclusion:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” 1Co 1:17
Rather than empower and advance the gospel, this type of thinking empties the cross of it of its power. We would do far better to trust the Spirit to give each church the gifted men that it needs and to fully utilize them all as they are gifted. We dare not receive one gift gladly and spurn another thinking that we do not need it (we already have one teaching elder thank you very much!). Doesn’t the Great Shepherd know best what His church needs and should we not receive all his gifts with gladness and joy?"
#17 Posted by
Mary Elizabeth Tyler | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
Pastors and elders, who stand before us every time we gather together to worship, are unique people. They represent a holy God and His standards of righteousness, all the while being sinners like all the rest of us pew sitters. They’re not some beamed in by satellite, giant sized figureheads, who cannot reach out and touch someone personally. They’re physically real. They’re physically present. They’re equally sinners. All their warts and failings, as well as their good fruits are present for all to be a witness to. When we super size the leaders of our churches (on big screens), they become larger than life itself; they become unreachable, unattainable, remote, untouchable and virtually unknowable. This creates a mystique and a warped curiosity about them, not to mention a fawning type allegiance to someone who seems all-vainglorious.
Mutlisite churches are for the pastor’s glory only. Their passion is not in shepherding their sheep with firm handshakes, bedside hospital visits, reaffirming hugs and encouraging, godly words, or heart-felt sympathies for one's personal circumstances and tragedies; but their concerns are for building names and reputations for themselves. Shepherding simply gets too involved, complicated and messy; better left to an underling.
We need to see our leaders (pastors and elders) fail before our eyes, as well as “witness” their personal victories, and to realize that they are sinners in desperate need of a holy Savior like all the rest of us, which also reminds us that ONLY Christ lived a perfect, sinless life. These failings eliminate any possibility of hero worship, and any possible feelings that only THEY can be trusted with our very souls. Likewise, their personal victories and testimonies stir us on to greater depths of holiness.
The responsibility to preach the gospel to all the world was never given to a “few good men,” who for whatever reasons believe that only they have unique communication skills, or some extra extraordinary visions or special words from on high (such as Mark Driscoll has fantasized about). God has endowed and gifted “many good men,” in the body of Christ, so as not to create a hierarchy system similar to the Roman Catholic Church. No one man, or group of men, should have a monopoly on God’s Word. Luther fought and died believing this, as did many of the Reformers.
**Loved** your article, Travis, and I am looking forward to all of them! Great topic!
#18 Posted by
Elaine Bittencourt | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
# 16 - Roger.
See, this is what I really dont understand. Multi-site churches are big churches, how come they are not training their own people to pastor other churches?
#19 Posted by
Travis Allen | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
Roger Burns :
Thanks for your great question and follow-up comments. I think you're on to something with your connection between church and parachurch.
GTY is clearly a parachurch ministry, which means there's no bibilcal mandate for it, even though there is bibilcal freedom to pursue it. GTY takes advantage of contemporary freedoms and technologies to support local churches (see the GTY Purpose Statement).
However, the parachurch should not set the standard for the church. The church is a mandated institution, which means there are specific parameters, boundaries, and guidelines for it.
We're not saying--as some have erroneously assumed--that churches are not allowed to innovate, use technology, or accommodate at all. That's never been our argument, even though our detractors want to paint us into that corner. What we're concerned about is that churches take a critical look at their own ministries and measure them against bibilcal precriptions and descriptions.
It seems to many (not just at GTY) that with a number of these newer approaches to ministry, their innovations are way out in front of their biblical justifications. They innovate and create, and when challenged, they scramble for biblical justification.
For the good of the saints, we want to see churches examine the Scripture carefully and let a truly biblical ministry philosophy set the paradigm for their ministries. That's what we're driving at.
Thanks again for your thoughtful interaction with the article. Good stuff.
#20 Posted by
H B | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
There seems to be an underlying assumption that the preached message must be delivered by the pastor/shepherd/leader of the church. I'm not so sure that is necessarily correct.
The Bible itself is a technological medium that communicates God's message to us. The letters of the apostles were originally the multi-site teaching of the apostles to be circulated multi-site style among the churches of 1st century using the multi-site technology of their time, written correspondence.
I'm sure the multi-site model need to be critiqued and probably acknowledged not to be the ideal, but it seems to me that these kinds of posts and dialogues are a bit of an exercise in finger-pointing at "those other guys" and gathering oneself and fellow like-minded together to to take turns patting each other on the back.
#21 Posted by
Nick Ford | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
I have been extremely blessed by the ministry of GTY and I am thankful for it. I am especially grateful for the ease of access to the resources via the website and iPhone app. However, the blog has been continually disappointing as I feel it is primarily a "watch-dog" list. Disagree with multisite churches and the elephant room conference and anything else all you want... But shouldn't a blog on GTY (a para church ministry that exists to support local churches) be more about encouraging and virtually "high-fiving" churches that are doing things that the blog author sees as great examples of churches doing things biblically? Wouldn't this support local church goers and encourage them more than reading about how a blog author (on a ministry site that they respect so much and find so helpful) thinks that the local church that they may attend is doing it all wrong? Just a thought...
#22 Posted by
Travis Allen | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
I'm sorry you've found the blog to be "continually disappointing," but I wonder how familiar you are with this blog.
To see if your accusation is true, I went back through the blog archives. Since the start (Nov 2009), we've posted series on the family, finding God’s will, mortifying sin, Christian fasting, the doctrine of assurance, gambling, the love of God, and most recently, a series on Christmas.
More critical topics have focused, not on picayune issues, but on significant matters that affect the local church. We've covered the Word-Faith movement, charismatic doctrine, evolution, Rob Bell's book denying hell, the YRR "movement," ministry pragmatism, the Elephant Room (one post), and now multisite (one post).
So, I think it's a gross exaggeration to say the GTY blog is "primarily a watch-dog list." That may be what people allege who don't like the positions we take, but the evidence doesn't support that charge.
The current series will deal with what the Bible says about local church ministry (e.g., leadership, preaching, edification). I acknowledged the many faithful churches that do ministry well in the article above; they'll "high-five" this series. And some churches may find the reminders helpful since, one can assume, we're all striving to be faithful to what the Bible says.
Does that help, Nick?
#23 Posted by
Gabriel Powell | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
The letters of the apostles were originally the multi-site teaching of the apostles to be circulated multi-site style...
I think if you tried to begin to supply evidence for this statement you'd come up short. What we have in Scripture in terms of the regular substance of instruction that went on in churches is very little. What we have are the God-breathed sources for truth–the apostolic teaching. But each church throughout the quickly growing Christian world had its own shepherds/elders/teachers who taught and led those individual congregations.
To compare a mere handful of letters written and circulated to modern multi-site methodology is a complete misunderstanding of what those letters were intended to do. With only a couple exceptions, the apostolic letters were not immediately distributed to all the churches. Most of them were written to specific churches or specific individuals for a specific purpose. It was only years later that letters were copied and distributed more freely.
If the church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), then it is absolutely necessary that the church understand Christ's model for the church. Multi-site is a declaration that God's model for the church is not as good as what we can come up with.
#24 Posted by
Jason Johnston | Thursday, January 05, 2012at
In response to anyone who is claiming GTY is the similar to multi-site churches I disagree.
GTY has been nothing short of a blessing, I live in rural Oklahoma and the need for biblical preaching is,well,pretty serious. I go to a local church of about 50 people and love them much but I would never learn from that church what I learn at GTY.
So if GTY had a "multi-site" where I live I'd go because I'm sure I would be surrounded by more theologicaly sound Christians. I'm a Calvinist drowning in a sea of Arminians and am the only Cali I know of within 80 miles(and probably the only person studying theology as a hobby) so it gets lonely.
So I don't know if multi-sites are biblical,and maybe such a thing shouldn't exist but like I said-if GTY had one here I'd go to it without question. - Jason.
#25 Posted by
Lamar Carnes | Friday, January 06, 2012at
As I read the articles and comments coming in I am saddened greatly. It seems if a new work doesn't meet the criteria established by "older" ministries to the "t" they are not biblical and out of order. Also, this arrogant attitude isn't biblical or even close to being helpful for the body of Christ. When folks out here listen and read so called seasoned and long time ministers and their posture on the new activities using modern methods of communication it smacks to me of just a wrong attitude of heart about our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not speaking about bilical doctrine on these issues at all, but rather methods and using "means" for the work of Christ. All Churches have to go through growth periods and establishing a method and manner whereby they can minister effectively to their flock. To start "hacking them to death" over their methods why not consider praying for the dear folks who being brought into the kingdom and supporting and encouraging in loving manner methods which may help the ministers. It all sounds like "barking dogs" out there today among folks who are in the body of Christ and they are chewing each other up. No wonder folks get disallusioned with all of them. To even consider or state we should not have multi-site Church meetings or plants is absolutely unbiblical and heretical. The Bible teaches that from cover to cover if one reads it. That is what it is all about. Missions, evangelism and establishing new Church conngregations is what we are to do. Also, when we start "lifting up" ONE person or minister and worshipping him we have a very big problem. I know there are in the mega-church movements most are speaking about there are plurality of pastors with usually "one" main teaching Pastor. Even there we have to be careful we do not become "man centered" because of a "gift" the person may have but realize all of the ministers are on a equal footing and we are all there to worship Christ and not lift up some man. This "dictatorial" top-down tyranny is rampant in a lot of places. No ONE man is in total charge from Biblical precepts and accountability of that main minister is very, very necessary. I have lived long enough to know that is absolutely necessary in the body of Christ. I know "large" mega-churches where "one" man makes all of the decisions and no one can get out of "his line" or they are looked down on as if he is the Pope! That isn't Biblical either. Sometimes I think we have more jealousy and pride going on than real concern for the word of God as is being stated. Examine our own hearts and reflect upon our own weaknesses and pray for our own ministry and approach to make sure it is bringing glory to God before we cast so many stones at our brethren. Certainly my statements do not reflect a "exposure" of heresy, or false teachings at all, but God gave the Church body much flexibility in administration means and gifts people to use many "means' to bring His word to the world.
#26 Posted by
Chuck Tuthill | Friday, January 06, 2012at
as for the question: we can, but should we?
want to go to a multi-site church or even pastor one; use technology or don't. here is a good teaching on that subject.
"Are you ready for this? Hum, if you're saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering, and saying thanks, you know what God's will is? Whatever you want. You like that? Do whatever you want. Go do whatever you want. You say, "You're kidding." No, I'm not kidding...No, I...you say, "What do you mean? How can...I can't just go do what I want." Yes, you can, because if that's how you're living, guess who's in charge of your wants?..."
#27 Posted by
Scott Autry | Friday, January 06, 2012at
#26 Chuck Tuthill,
I think you totally missed the point.
"saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering, and saying thanks" would never negate direct didactic teaching on how a church should function. It would be the fulfillment of it.
Can I recommend Alexander Strauch's book Biblical Eldership?
#28 Posted by
Chuck Tuthill | Friday, January 06, 2012at
no. don't think so. could be wrong.
scripture is silent on the matter of multi site churches and technology. so the matter is one of knowing the will of God which pastor john handles so very well in the sermon concerning knowing God's will.
#29 Posted by
Adam Rodriguez | Friday, January 06, 2012at
I have a question about multi-site churches.
My church is planning on becoming multi-site since they have people coming in from all over the county, sometimes driving 45 minutes or more to get there I think. However, rather than do video ministry with one pastor preaching to all the congregations, I believe they're going to have different preaching pastors at each campus. I don't know if they'll all coordinate the sermon series or how that's going to work, but they're "multi-site" in the sense of sharing resources and whatnot. They've described it as a church plant actually.
#30 Posted by
Jeremiah Gilliland | Friday, January 06, 2012at
Would any of you be able to show me where it says in scripture that multi site churches are not the correct way a church should conduct its ministry. Or maybe you could share a link to one of MacArthur's sermons that talks of this sort of issue. I understand that the Bible will not be talking of the same exact examples in this day and age.
#31 Posted by
Travis Allen | Friday, January 06, 2012at
Adam Rodriguez & Jeremiah Gilliland:
The situation you've described, Adam, is not the same as the current multisite church initiative. You're describing multiple church plants out of a more mature church, in which each congregation will (or should) have its own preaching pastor/shepherd and its own elder board.
What we're concerned about is an approach that's gaining popularity in which each congregation watches the preaching pastor on a video screen via live feed or DVD. The technology makes it possible, but is that a wise use of technology that will lead to the health of each congregation? We think it'll weaken congregations because it's not a biblical approach to pastoral leadership, shepherding, or preaching.
Jeremiah, that'll be what we look at in the upcoming posts. We're not against technology, obviously. But what we are strongly advocating is an approach that seeks to conform technology, innovation, and accommodation to what is clearly revealed in the Bible, rather than conforming Scripture to our creativity, innovation, and pragmatic experiments.
There seem to be many (and it's not new with the multisite folks) whose ideas are way out in front of biblical justification. We hope to expound the biblical model of local church ministry to help people think it through.
So, stay tuned...
#32 Posted by
Adam Rodriguez | Friday, January 06, 2012at
I sort of figured that's what it really was, which was why I didn't see a problem with it. I just wanted your opinion, and your response makes me feel better about it. Thanks! Looking forward to the series!
#33 Posted by
Lorna Hemm | Saturday, January 07, 2012at
I believe it is essential to attend a church service, not through video, but through face-to-face worship. It is so important to worship together with other believers. Sadly, a family in our church has decided that they will stop attending church and just listen to Grace To You on Sundays instead. Listening to church on-line is very uplifting and can supplement our learning; but substituting video or internet church for regular church attendance is not what GTY or Christ would have in mind.
#34 Posted by
Mary Kidwell | Saturday, January 07, 2012at
My husband and I began attending our church almost 30 years ago. At the time it was fairly small but has grown steadily over the years, I believe, because of the pastors’ and elders’ faithfulness to the authority of scripture. How to accommodate the growth has always been an issue addressed with prayer. We remodeled, we moved to a larger facility, and a few years ago we began to be multisite. Each campus has its own pastor who presides over the worship service and who shepherds the congregation at his particular campus. Each campus also has its own worship team which leads the music during the worship service. While there is one elder board overseeing all of the campuses, there is a fair amount of autonomy at each campus as far as the programs and ministry. The sermon is received by satellite from the main campus, but like many large churches, the pastor has many weeks a year that he is not in the pulpit and the other campus pastors are frequently the ones who then fill in.
While only God truly knows ones heart, I honestly don’t feel our senior pastor is seeking self glory over God’s glory. I believe it is truly in the senior pastor’s heart (as well as the elders) to be faithful to scripture and to impact the world from our area for Christ by proclaiming His Word and making disciples. I don’t understand what is unscriptural about our use of multisites receiving the sermon via satellite, but I believe GTY is very thoughtful about the church being faithful to scripture so I will read with an open mind.
#35 Posted by
Shauna Bryant | Sunday, January 08, 2012at
Lorna # 33 - Agreed!
When we moved to the east coast it was quite a chore trying to find a proper church. It's where the land of anything except proper preaching goes. Fortunately after visiting (or visiting with the Pastor) over 40 churches we finally found one we believed we could call 'home'. We have been listening/reading to gty for years as a way to enhance our biblical studies and have been greatly edified by it. I want to hear a sermon almost everyday - so I love having the ability to 'hear' God's Word through different men via the internet, but I would never make the mistake of considering, for instance, John MacArthur or Phil Johnson as 'my' Pastor.
Unfortunately, after some time, it became patently obvious the church we were attending was very legalistic/controlling. We eventually left and realized the 'search' would have to resume. We took advantage of gty even more during that time so we could be fed and I thank the Lord that He had a way for us. But we had a desire to find a local fellowship and understood (I mean it's common sense really) that watching on our laptop/TV wasn't 'attending' a local church. And the Lord led us to another church ;-)
So, either the folks who left your church are searching for a new one and using gty as we did, OR they don't have a desire for fellowship which is indicative of their spiritual immaturity - which would provide an opportunity for individual fellowship and 'bringing along' for someone in your church.
Bottom line, if they are actually saved people desiring to learn through gty, then they will have a desire (or even be obedient to) for fellowship as they mature and have more understanding, which may bring them back, unless they left for another reason altogether that you may not be aware of.
Clearly, gty is not trying to take the place of local fellowship - and if someone uses it that way, then the onus of spiritual irresponsibility is on them alone. However, I believe if they honestly listen and apply what they learn, then they'll be back in a proper church - or help support a church plant.
#37 Posted by
Stephen Schneider | Monday, January 09, 2012at
I can agree whole hearted with the author's article. I have heard time and time again that a preacher is preaching a biblical sermon soley because he has picked a passage from Scripture and preached on it. The problem is the preacher did not grasp the point of the passage and showed little understanding about how to interpret scripture. These preachers boast about having completed 3 courses in homiletics in seminary but still can't preach. The big rage now is having an app for your church. How can a pastor be a shepherd to those he has never met.
#38 Posted by
Chip Bryant | Monday, January 09, 2012at
All technology was given by God to reach the lost. We should be using every piece of it for the harvest before satan uses it for his purpose. Your own ministry uses social media why wouldnt you want to use it in the church?
#39 Posted by
Rhonda Taylor | Monday, January 09, 2012at
I understand the point made about ipods, ipads..ect, and of course the net via or verses Sunday morning church service. But I feel as strongly about FaceBook. I don't FB (I did for a short time and found it to have a sulfur'ry smell about it) and it's not that I expect anyone to follow me on this but I don't feel good about putting my face in a "cess pool" where the bad out weights the good. But everyone is doing it with the same response, "You can use anything for Gods good." But I'm not buying it. In reference to this subject, isn't that the same thing? Please no hateful responses....I by no means mean it that way. The "net" doesn't covey emotions very well.
#40 Posted by
Dan Wilson | Monday, January 09, 2012at
Computer books are selling and paper books are declining.. I wonder if we stop the paper and use the computer ones.. when it breaks down.. then what.. This age is skyrocketing to technology.. that books will be nothing but a fairy tale.. I would read from a paper book than from a computer Ebook.. Just a thought.. :) God bless.
#41 Posted by
Michael Miller | Monday, January 09, 2012at
Paul had miltistie churches. It seems that he oversaw many Churches without cell phones or computers, he was a wonderful God ordained Sheppard of many flocks. And he took his ordination very seriously!
I am a member of a very good Christ centered Church (one building), our Pastor teaches the Gospel of Jesus, in the infallible Word of God each week, maybe a little more than one verse at a time. But if the Lord's Church has the opportunity to traverse with one God Ordained Pastor is it totally wrong? I believe there are people God calls, like the Pastor of my Church and the Pastor of Grace Church John MacArthur, that have a gift above the standard. I feel that sharing God's inspired message by a very gifted teacher is beyond walls.
I love Grace to You
#42 Posted by
Ted Howell | Monday, January 09, 2012at
I think the answer to this, is another question. Who does this Glorify. God does nothing that cuts Himself out or gives glory to some one else. Everything is to be to the Glory of the Father. Jesus said," I do nothing on my own initiative,but that which my Father has told me" Paraphrasing His words. That's what's so great about Johns teaching here. He does add to or take glory for what trues he teaches us. He teaches the Words of our Lord,to the Glory of our Father. Amen?
#43 Posted by
Brad Rogers | Tuesday, January 10, 2012at
multisite? if the idea was good before why is it popular now? How is this different from having a central Baptist or Lutheran or Episcopalian church that has individual churches in various cities, states etc?
The tutorial says the very first churches were multisite? because they sent letters to each other? I thought there were major differences from church to church. Wouldnt past councils have said something like we believe in these things and that churches need to be multisite to properly teach Gods word? the tutorial claims the first churches were multisite then says skip 2000 years to the present. Whoa! I would like to know how this topic was talked about. If there are no case studies in the past 2000 years and its some new thing? forget it
#44 Posted by
Rudi Jensen | Tuesday, January 10, 2012at
The Church is for glorifying God and making disciples. It's not an amusement park, I think.
#45 Posted by
Dan Wilson | Tuesday, January 10, 2012at
Trust in Jesus rather than things of the world.
#46 Posted by
Hau Thang | Tuesday, January 10, 2012at
I questioned myself: what would be the reason for me to be a member of a multi-church family. It would be because I "worship" that pastor. This is anohter form of Satan's attack at it's root. I wouldn't want to be a member of the church where the Pastor couldn't hold my hand to pray for me, because sometime I may want more than just my elders support and prayers.
For those who are in multi-church, just go out and buy his book, or listen to him on the radio. If you relly need to see the face of your pastor, go to Youtube. Examine your heart...only God is to be worship.
#47 Posted by
Rudi Jensen | Wednesday, January 11, 2012at
Comment deleted by user.
#48 Posted by
Chuck Tuthill | Wednesday, January 11, 2012at
"because sometime I may want more than just my elders support and prayers."
are you saying that only the "pastor" is able to pray for you effectively in your church? a "church" culture bias? personal preference?
that would seem to me to be a contradiction of your earlier statement concerning the "worship" of the pastor.
just my thought; nothing would please a true pastor more than to for the people of God to be praying for one another and seeing God work in them without him having any part of it except for preaching the Bible.
#49 Posted by
Hau Thang | Wednesday, January 11, 2012at
Please don't take the phrase out of the context. My point was to highlight the significance of a pastor's role, and the best multi-church pastor could do is to give you support through phone call, email, or video conference.
#50 Posted by
Rebecca Schwem | Wednesday, January 11, 2012at
My pastor has pastored my church for over 40 years. He's the only senior pastor this church has ever had. My pastor has been faithful in leading us to be a debt free church since the late seventies. With a membership of approximately 19,000, we will move into our new worship center in April. It has been paid for since last summer.
We have helped other churches get out of debt and helped plant others churches nearby as well as across the city. We have also licensed many for positions in others churches in and out of state. That's the short list.
Now, we do have two big screens in our current worship center enabling us to see others on stage more easily. Even that isn't the same as being able to look up close and personal. And for a time, we did use a big screen in another part of the building for the overflow. I really didn't like getting stuck in there, I have to admit. That was remedied by getting another pastor that teaches two services while the senior pastor teaches three. You have a pick of two.
The first pastor for the "overflow" has since left with some church members to start a new church in the inner city. And the "overflow" now has a new wonderful teaching pastor. There has never been talk of doing multisite campuses as one very well known pastor in the Houston has now.
This is a Baptist pastor with a very successful church and one whom I like to listen and know his theology is biblically correct. He is genuine. However, I don't understand why successful pastors don't feel part of their success is to equip others to leave and plant new churches in areas they see a need? I have family all over and when I hear someone is shopping for a new church home, I go to the Master's Seminary website and go to the "graduates" link and with zip code or state in hand, find the church closest to my relative's or friend's new home. Why? Because anyone that has chosen the Master's Seminary to get a degree, is someone worth meeting. Why? Because I trust John MacArthur and the staff's desire to equip these people.
I don't think all the pastors that have multisites are control freaks or aspiring to some sort of stardom but it could show a lack of confidence. They don't have to have their own seminary in order to show their confidence. But to me, without any more explanation than what I've heard from pastors of these mega churches, it seems they think there is none in their thousands of members or very huge staff qualified enough to lead as senior pastor. Maybe they think that even with their mentoring of others, members are so clingy, they must have the founding pastor or they won't attend? So. we're back to a lack of confidence again...this time in God's Word. Does he want others to go because of some sort of sentimentality? Or because they know the new pastor has been mentored by a pastor who unashamedly preaches God's Word with boldness? These people need to be cut loose from the apron strings of the founding pastor.