May I vent for a moment? If I stumble onto another blog, article, or conference advertisement for anything having to do with video venues or multi-site models of church growth, I just might lose it. Everywhere I look within our odd little subculture these days I'm barraged by debates and diatribes about the glorious merits or awful shortcomings of venues and sites. On one side are proponents who seem to believe that only really good sliced bread can compete with their innovative ministry models for the title of "greatest thing ever." Opposing these trendsetters are Marshall McLuhan's disciples, those who fear the Good News message has been distorted by an unholy medium.
To be clear, I understand the nuanced distinctions between multiple sites and multiple video screens. I get that there are theological concerns embedded within this conversation that bring out the passionate sides of characteristically composed people. To be honest, I've followed this debate with some interest and could earnestly argue my own position about these ministry models. But I don't want to. In fact, at this point I'd rather talk about almost anything else. Here's why:
1. It simply doesn't matter to most of us. A well known pastor and early adopter of video venues and the multi-site model recently wrote on his blog that, "What was initially considered a wacky idea has become the new normal…" Really? The norm for American churches is multiple campuses with preaching beamed in from the mother ship? I doubt this pastor or other multi-site proponents mean to overlook the vast majority of small and medium-sized churches for whom multi sites and video venues make no sense. But the message some of these smaller churches are hearing is about significance and effectiveness. Want to make a difference for Jesus in 2009? You'd better launch a new campus, or at least broadcast the sermon to the fellowship hall for those who want doughnuts and coffee with their preaching.
2. It's embarrassing. Have we stopped to think about what this debate sounds like to those who don't share our Christian faith and Evangelical zeal? The conversation is no longer a private one among family members when "multi-site church" has its own Wikipedia entry. Those who don't share our commitments are nonetheless privy to our silly quibbles and regrettable blog comments. Again, I realize the importance of these issues and the theological repercussions of seemingly pragmatic decisions. But a survey of our corner of the blogosphere would lead you to believe that this is one of the most significant issues facing the church right now. I'm not sure that's the case, and it leads to my next reason we ought to redirect our attention.
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