Video Venues and Multi-Sites: Can We Please Move On?
We've got more important matters to discuss.

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.

November 05, 2009

Displaying 1–10 of 23 comments

dsi r4

November 14, 2009  5:04am

By showing the video on site that's good for increasing traffic on site.We have to make site like it looks multi sites for that we have to making links in right or left side of our site from that we can redirect our url to particular sites.

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Robert Angison

November 11, 2009  9:27am

Not a fan of the post. Honestly just not. The multi-site conversation is one that needs to happen. Our orthopraxy goes to the heart of our orthodoxy. Ecclesiology is the outward expression of our faith. I do like some points, particularly the one about how this whole phenomen has set a tone for what is "successful" ministry and what is not. Ironically I was traveling around the city where I live the other day and came across a massive, modern structure that houses a video campus of a huge mega-church located about twenty five miles away. As I sat at my light I looked to my left and saw a simple brick building housing a pentecostal church and to my left and saw a medium sized methodist church building. I wonder of the three who we think is being successful? Finally, the grave danger that is looming is not just ecclesiolgical but is also pastoral. Multi-sites naturally centralize over one leader, one teacher. When we do this we negate the movement of God in young men's lives about the reality of their calling to lead. You are the Church! Robert Angison

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November 09, 2009  12:12pm

I think one problem we get into is that we talk in too much of a meta-church conversation. I have yet to find that conversation helpful in any way. Sometimes we fight the larger "establishment" of church too much and, thus, wasting so much time. Efforts of conversation toward health care solutions and concerns of social justice tend to be mostly political and bureaucratic. If a Christian has a stance on this issue then, by all means, pursue it through all possible avenues to make it better, i.e., be politically involved. However, a complete dependency on the government to resolve, restore, or rectify such issues is purely...well...sad. There are many more interests the government is concerned with that directly effect change in these areas. If a Christian (or church) has a conviction about health care then I say get out the checkbook and pay for someone's care or volunteer medical care. Maybe sell a car or be less self-indulgent in the consumption of luxury items, i.e., non-essentials. Get out there an take care of people! Be the love of Christ. In regard to video and technology, I believe it is all an illusion within the church. Simply put, this is cultural consumption. To think of it solely as a learning mechanism is naive. It is included in "church" because it has entertainment value or it shows "relevance." It is all PR. It turns church into a show to meet the temporary needs of a consumer-minded, media saturated culture. An economic stratum, a social class that is more concerned with lifestyle than lifechange through the redeeming power of Christ.

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November 09, 2009  11:18am

Our little, insignificant, 80-member church - complete with a sound system that buzzes and requires a person to always be at the volume control, adjusting as necessary - couldn't care less about your endless quibbles over "multi-site campuses" and video screens. This weekend, we had members serving on a Kairos mission to a juvenile prison, members serving at a food pantry, members making food and gifts for a holiday charity fund-raising bazaar, and members holding a church service at a local nursing home. We have our problems and limitations, and certainly don't have everything right, but that's what we were up to. So... please continue to quibble about video screens, campuses and liberal politics. We're too busy to listen to much of that.

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David Swanson

November 09, 2009  9:25am

Thanks for the comments, though admittedly I'm not tracking with all of them. My point was simply to ask whether the current interest in multi-site and video-venue models of church is actually representative of the types of issues facing our churches. I realize the importance of this conversation, I'm simply not convinced it matters as much as we think it does. My hunch? Our fascination with multi-sites and video-venues is another in a long line of examples of the many being concerned with the realities of a few. And, as is often the case, the few tend to be larger and more visible churches whose influence ends up affecting those with very different contexts, challenges, and callings.

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November 08, 2009  6:31pm

This blog and the subsequent comments (including mine) degenerating into yet another silly argument and flame-fest is just more proof that most blogs and comments sections on the web need to be a thing of the past.

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November 08, 2009  10:36am


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andrew jones

November 08, 2009  5:10am

i am also not a fan of multi-site because i see it as turning potential leaders and church planters into serving someone else's idea. and i also think each individual church should be a unique reflection of that locality, not a mirror image of a distant church with a bigger budget. thanks for the article.

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November 08, 2009  3:41am

I also dislike setting the discussion of video venues and multi-site against concern for evangelism and immigration. More than just the outside appearance , or what we personally claim too others as who we are representing behavorially-community , as well our inner core being...each.

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Prophet, Former

November 07, 2009  1:30pm

If we "Seek Peace and Correctly" within the existing residing doors already given to The churches, there will not be so much need for additional sites half full anyways from the interpersonal/relational dividings not attended too by lazinesses held, or selfish endeavors never worked out. Sister Church sites are one thing; but when added onto only to suffice & promote support of a unhealthy division/split–God usually sees to it these all don't last–if not held too accountable to what they originally were offered from God-first. We do unto others as..... As for the advancements in technologies through video senses, this is impairative due to the fact that many learn and retain information much better while engaging in this type of fashion–undisturbed than, and implented therefore differently. PF

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