Saturday, October 1, 2011

Multi-siting: Philosophy

"They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.... And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:42 - 47.

The word 'Philosophy' is used intentionally here. Websters says that 'philosophy' means 'a critical study of fundamental beliefs and the grounds for them; ... the sum of the ideas and convictions of an individual or group.' [Websters Dictionary].

This conversation about multi-siting or [satellites, congregations...] has to be kept in the right place in our thinking. If the architecture is made the main thing I suspect we could lose the true and big picture. On these matters, I am pretty sure that the Father is more concerned by other priorities then he is about the detailed shape of our story. The infant church of Acts 2, gives us the most glorious picture of what heart drove this early church. What can we draw from them? Jesus so captivated them that:
  • They were driven by devotion to... The notion of a passive, mediocre disengaged church, filled with fragmented individuals, was foreign to this radical community,
  • They were devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread [keeping their relationship with Christ and others current] and prayer. Devotion isn't simply a good heart. It had focussed priorities. A church can have all the right multi-site ingredients, but if it does not have this heart of devotion, it lacks true biblical authenticity,
  • Awe, signs, wonders and miracles flooded their mission. We are not looking for good architecture and form, matched with seeker-friendly well scripted gatherings. That is simply not why Jesus died. Of course we want to celebrate the genius of the gift of administration — it is in the list of Holy Spirit empowered gifts, but it is never at the expense of Holy Spirit power. We simply cannot do it without his presence — not power for its own sake but to advance the gospel and to proclaim his name boldly,
  • Being together and having all things in common — the soul of this church that grew by 3000 overnight, was being on mission, but with togetherness. There is a subtle whisper that you can only do this in small churches not in big, then if this is true then big churches are not 'good'. Yet big churches are 'good' because God has this habit of growing them. Therefore by big becoming many small to get even bigger, can really be 'good',
  • They met in homes and the temple courts - I love how simple and clear the scripture spells it out for us. There is so much room for dining room table christianity — being personal, honest and transparent. There is room for family groups to meet and share life together. There is room for medium sized groups to gather to release the priests to express their spiritual gifts as they have done in sharing their lives. Then there is the great celebration moments where God is wondrously praised, where the empowering apostolic word is preached and where we all know we are part of a bigger story. Wow - simple but beautiful,
  • And the Lord added to their number daily... those who were being saved. It is all about Jesus and the gospel. It is not about anything else. If it is that or becomes that, then we need to go back to the drawing board, repent of our distraction and reset our course.
Christianity is basic. Therefore we must do the basics well and audit the true health of our community against that yardstick. If we use any other, we will create Leaning Towers of Pisa. It may last for a year or two but then it will all fall down.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris
    I've enjoyed the series on multi-siting - some good thoughts there for consideration. Amazing how we often ask the questions about whether the 'model' is biblical - but forget the questions about the motive of the heart.
    Just a few questions / comments that I'd love for you to respond to - either here or in a follow-up post.

    1. Building around personalities
    How do we avoid building around personalities [by which I assume you mean that the personality is 'mixed in' to the foundation] while at the same time building 'with' sovereignly God-given gifts? Isn't it true that sometimes these incredible highly gifted [by God], high capacity men come along and we want that gift to be put to work in bringing the church to maturity, even though we know that, once they're gone, that same level of gifting may not be around to sustain the momentum that was around while they were here. How do we build WITH the gifts, but not DEPEND ON the gifts?

    2. Single-generation results
    This is related to the previous question. In building for the long term, do we not risk building structures and processes and systems to sustain what God is doing ongoingly which is heading down the road to denominationalism? Is it not more appropriate to build around the God-given gifts well, accepting that this is, in a sense, one-generational; this will result in the people God's given us now growing up to maturity. And then we can trust God to bring in fresh gifting down the line to take the church on in future generations.

    I suppose both questions here are not really relating to multi-siting, but around how we build for the long-term while still allowing those that God has gifted to do what God's given them to do.

    Love to hear your thoughts around this.