Tuesday, October 5, 2010

To Multi-site or to Biblically Plant Local Churches

Isn't it great when a debate is framed so openly and fairly? :) Here's a discussion/debate between James MacDonald, Mark Dever, and Mark Driscoll that I got tipped off to by Dan Threlfall. Mark Dever ably takes the position of uni-site church plants. Dever spends most of the interview asking questions of Driscoll regarding his multi-site philosophy.

It always seemed to me that the uni-site approach was the more theological position while the multi-site approach was more strategic and yes, cool. I'm sure there are a wide variety of philosophy and strategy among those who advocate multi-site, just as there are innumerable approaches to the uni-site approach. On both accounts I'm sure there are plenty examples of churches that are not equally well thought out and enacted. It's easy and somewhat enjoyable to pick apart examples on either side that are ill conceived or executed poorly. That's what makes this interview so enjoyable. You get to see leaders of both approaches discuss their approach to the matter.

So, forget the personalities representing the positions. The real question is, what do you think? Pros/cons?

(Please note that the pictures are deliberately contrasting just to confuse the issue further)


  1. As a former teacher, I would have to agree with Mark Denver's comment that a preacher should monitor and adjust his message based on feedback from the audience. I also agree with Driscoll that the preacher should rely on the Holy Spirit's leading while preaching. How would the preacher of a multi-site church gain audience feedback in order to adjust and improve his communication? I believe the Holy Spirit uses audience feedback to guide His preacher. Would the purpose of multi-site be to just get the Word out to as many people as possible as quickly as possible or to effectively teach? In my experience, speaking is one dimensional and can be done through a screen because it doesn't require feedback, but teaching is multidimensional with back and forth communication. Get the Word out to masses vs. get the Word into hearts ... Speaking vs preaching/teaching ... multi-site vs. uni-site?

  2. In watching the video I thought it was very interesting that those who advocated the multi-site approach never used scripture to back their position, but rather used personal influence and reason to form their view. While it is true that one person will have a greater influence if they use their reputation to spread the gospel and grow a multi-site church, the gospel is not about one's personality or reputation, it is about Christ and His work. Even the argument about how many vacancies there are in the pulpit each year breaks down when you consider that Dever's church has about 75 openings compared to all of Driscoll's churches have a total of about 300 openings. If each of Driscoll's churches were a uni-site church and had 75 openings per year as Dever's church does, the total number of openings for interns/training pastors would be much greater. I also think the point made about teaching being only for today and that old sermons cannot be replayed for later hearers does not have biblical support. If a sermon is based on the timeless Word of God and properly applied, the sermon in a sense becomes timeless as well. While the exact situation may change with time, the timeless truths taught and expressed can still be used. That is the result of the Holy Spirit at work in the message. A speech, on the other hand, cannot be reused because it does loose all relevance when taken out of the time context it was originally given in. While the multi-site church may seem to be effective in reaching more people, and can possibly be a biblical church planting technique, it seems to play more off the status of the pastor than the message of the gospel as the foundation for a church ministry.