Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The personality-driven church
Many have already commented on Mark Driscoll's (of Mars Hill, not to be confused with Rob Bell of a different Mars Hill Church!!) entry into blog world, especially this post at "Out or Ur" on homosexuality.

Today on his own blog he has posted on how his church has become "multi-site". Its always good to hear about growth, but a few things about the post left me with questions.
Multi-site here means using a video for the"sermon" with worship "live" in each location.
Commenting on that he suggests:
"The most common criticism of video venues is that they are impersonal. But the hard truth is that, generally speaking, if a pastor is a gifted preacher, their church will grow. As it does, people will be watching the sermon on screens at the back of the room, or watching a video feed on an overflow screen in another room. Furthermore, as a church grows, the relational center of the church is not one pastor but rather a team of leaders that makes a church healthier and more diverse. Subsequently, the alternative to an impersonal church with a gifted preacher is a personable church with a less gifted preacher. If the goal of the church is to reach new people and not just connect with existing people, then a degree of inaccessibility to the preaching pastor must be accepted and other pastors must be raised up alongside of him to care for people"

It may be a cultural thing (USA to UK) but that doesn't sit well with me!
Firstly "if a pastor is a gifted preacher, their church will grow"- in the UK that would be by transfer from other churches! And while I think preaching still has a significant place in church life, I think it puts too much emphasis on it. I really think the equation of "good preaching = numerical growth" is from another era, its just not that simple!
Secondly the notion that the senior guy must preach at all venues because he's (usually he!) gifted also seems to contradict the desire that the centre of the church should not be one person. It seems to me that you end up building personality-driven churches, based on the stand-up man's charisma! (of course this is a problem as old as the Bible with one following Paul, and another Apollos etc.). This seems to be a very "top down" and modern approach.

His analysis that: "Subsequently, the future of the church in America seems to be moving toward very large multi-site megachurches and very small house meta-churches. " is telling, and it will be interesting to see how much the UK and elsewhere differs in that respect, with our history of the "parish church".

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