Categories
Ministry

For What It’s Worth: Multi-Site Churches

A church can best reach a city when it “goes to the people” rather than expecting the people to come to it.  This means that a church in a metropolitan area should seek to multiply, not by building a bigger building, but by taking new ground for the kingdom through opening up new, smaller gathering places throughout the city.

There is biblical evidence for “multi-site” churches, as Gregg Allison writes about.  In addition to Allison’s blog, notice how Paul speaks to Titus: “This is why I left you in Crete [one church] so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders [plural] in every town [multi-site] as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). It seems that Titus was to serve as a sort of “theological overseer/shepherd” on the island of Crete. Consider, too, that Timothy was charged to lead the church in Ephesus through theological shepherding (1 Tim. 1:3).  Ephesus was one city and no doubt had many sites–which is made clear by Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to keep men from preaching unsound doctrine (1:3-7) and to appoint qualified leaders in Ephesus (3:1-7).

But there is the practical element of reaching as many people as possible that makes a difference as well. All truth is God’s truth, but not all truth is contained in Scripture (advanced physics isn’t in there, neither is English grammar). God has providentially given us wisdom, by his Spirit, and wisdom is always intensely practical.  Here are five practical benefits of multi-site churches:

  • More, smaller facilities are cost-effective (you can find cheaper, even foreclosed, space to buy and remodel).
  • Different “tribes” and “peoples” will be reached (because some people will refuse to drive to the ‘burbs and attend services at the nice, comfy, predominately white church).
  • More intimate fellowship between God’s people (and people will still recognize they are a part of a bigger body and movement, but they won’t get lost in the shuffle–their name and face matter).
  • Ability to focus on reaching particular neighborhoods (cities change when neighborhoods change, not the other way around).
  • Ability to gear non-essential, stylistic issues toward the culture of the neighborhood (e.g. music, etc; as opposed to causing a stink at the “building” where old fogies and young hotheads clash).

How can we reach people and transform a city if we just build bigger buildings? There can be more services, but will we really reach people from 20 miles away in the ghetto with our giant, suburban buildings? Probably not. If churches are to transform cities (as they were expected to do in the New Testament) then we must go to where the people are, and we must keep people on mission in their part of town.  That means if you live in the ghetto, you are on mission there.  If you live in the ‘burbs, it means you are on mission there. If you live in the urban center, you are on mission there. And if you live on the outskirts of town, then you are on mission there.

I realize this is not possible for all churches for a variety of reasons. But it should at least be on the radar and a future goal. If a church isn’t there yet, there should be, by God’s grace, a concerted effort to get there.

What are your thoughts about multi-site churches?

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Categories
Theology

A Must Read

If you are a Christian and if you live in a postmodern world (which we all do), then you need to read The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World.  The book wonderfully tackles tough issues that Christianity faces in our world today and how we can overcome those issues to continue advancing the kingdom.

It is a collection of essays that are taken from messages given at the 2006 Desiring God National Conference.  Contributors include Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Don Carson, Voddie Baucham, Jr., David Wells, and John Piper.   Piper and Justin Taylor are the general editors.

Categories
Life

Thinking About Truth and Love

I don’t have time right now to really write down my thoughts, but maybe I will sometime.  I’m not just “not perfect” at the truth and love combo.  I’m not close, and nobody can really say they are.  Anyway, in the meantime, I did want to pass along a few resources that have helped shaped my thinking.

First, here is a short article by John Piper, in which he says the Bible teaches that truth is the foundation for love.

And here is a 3-minute video from Desiring God where Mark Driscoll tells us about the art of speaking the truth in love:

Categories
Life

Men, Grab Your Cup…You’ll Need It

Most men don’t know how to be men.  Honestly, most men are boys and they treat women like garbage.  Mark Driscoll preaches on 1 Peter 3:7 and talks about 8 different kinds of men he has observed.  It is particularly intense.  May God spur all of us men to be more conformed to the image of the ultimate Man — Jesus Christ.

I highly encourage you listening to this sermon.

And by the way, grab your cup.  You’re going to need it.

Categories
Theology

New Calvinism vs. Old Calvinism

Time magazine writes that “New Calvinism” is the third biggest idea that is changing the world right now.  That’s pretty significant.  On the Resurgence blog, you can read Driscoll’s insights on how New Calvinism differs from Old Calvinism.

Before I go, I want to say a quick word on the label “Calvinism.”  I don’t like labels, because people have preconceived notions and opinions when they hear a particular label.  Ask any “Calvinist” about who they follow, and they will say, “I follow Jesus, not Calvin.  Calvin simply brought to light biblical theology that was clouded over during a dark period in the history of the church.”  This is my conviction as well.

Because people like labels, we use the term “Calvinist.”  Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher in London (who called himself a Calvinist), said that he has no particular allegiances toward Calvin, just simply what he taught.  Spurgeon also said, “Calvinism is the gospel,” that is, salvation is completely a one-handed effort on God’s part (what we call “monergism”) and we take no credit in it.  This is opposed to “synergism,” which is at the heart of Arminian theology.  This means that salvation is a two-handed effort, merging God’s work with ours.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in the Time article:  “The moment someone begins to define God’s [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist.”  Mohler’s statement is bold, but I agree.  He uses the word “classified.”  This means that biblical conclusions aren’t cemented as Calvinism.  You don’t have to call yourself a Calvinist if you believe that only those who are elect get saved and that God sovereingnly reins over all things. You don’t have call yourself a Calvinist if you read Calvin, Luther, Owen, Edwards, or Spurgeon.

Forgive the label.  We don’t follow Calvin.  In fact, ignore the label, because in heaven, no one will be Calvinist or Arminian.  But don’t ignore the theological teaching because of preconceived notions.  Trust God to understand his being and actions biblically, and I promise that by God’s grace Jesus will quickly become the supreme treasure of your life.