Monday, September 26, 2011

Multi-siting: Menace or Mission.

All around the world there is a rumble as the large "caterpillars of the kingdom" [massive earthmoving equipment of the eternal] are engaged in new apostolic architecture. The soil of old ways are giving way to the excitement of fresh design, inspired leadership, activated believers and catalytic conversations of city transformation. But how do we know if this is the Father inspired? How do we know if this is not just the inspiration of a few good men and not the sketches of the original creator?

Whenever, we are facing a new situation, how do we respond? Obviously we cannot simply say: "we have never done it this way before". That little line has left many great God ideas on the trash heap of territorial defenses.

What is our yardstick of rightness? Here are 4 yardsticks that have helped us over years:
  • Scripture - what does God have to say about it in the text?
  • Prophecy - what have the prophets been talking about?
  • History - we have to let church history be an ally. Unfortunately we are not students enough of history, so we tend to repeat it,
  • Philosophy - what are the DNA distinctives that define our story, God given values? Does multi — siting deepen these essentials or water them down?
At the outset, I am often asked what I think of this new phenomenon. I am absolutely persuaded that the Father is revealing something of his own heart to us architecturally. This is not the first time this kind of form has found its way into the church, even in modern times. However I do, briefly, want to express my concern as to the motivation that some are engaging this new story with:
  • Celebrity-ism - that once again the need to have a king is raging in the paddock, the danger of building around one personality raises many legitimate concerns,
  • Imperialism - it is hard to resist the temptation to increase our sphere of influence more, to stake our claim in new suburbs, cities and boroughs,
  • Terrorism - the terror of being left behind, that others will grow quicker than us, get into our space,
  • Territorialism - in our quest to protect our perceived boundaries, we do this multi-site thing as a form of 'border patrol', [we just won't say it that way],
  • Jones-ism - "keeping up with the Jones", well everyone else is doing it so we had better do it to,
  • Evolutionism - where there is no real concern about the smaller churches, even if we empty them of their people, let the 'fittest' survive,
  • Isolationism - whereby we are the best show in town, offer the best product & program therefore we do not need others, we are our own entity.
These are a few motivations that require honest, humble reflection and repentance. I am a believer in multi-siting. I love its entrepreneurial opportunities but we will all face the fire test where God puts our labor to the flame. If our motives are really self - idolatrous, then it will not stand the divine fire test. It may take a few years but it will all come tumbling down. It becomes idolatrous when we speak of the new communities / sites more than Jesus, the new doors more than the gospel and the numbers more than the trinity. Then I suspect it is time for some raw honesty.

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