By now I’m sure many of you have seen this video featuring James MacDonald, Mark Dever and Mark Driscoll about the concept of the multi-site model. The idea of multiple services is also included but the primary discussion centers around church planting versus the multi-site model. My friend Steve McCoy posted some of his thoughts on this video and issue here yesterday and I’ve been thinking on it since.
I was disappointed that Dever was never actually allowed to develop his argument. Near the beginning of the video, he begins developing the point that in the New Testament, the word ekklesia means “assembly.” He’s promptly cut off and his arguments really aren’t allowed to develop any deeper but I wish that they had.
I was also a bit surprised/disappointed at how pragmatic the arguments from Driscoll and MacDonald were. I was also interested that Driscoll made the argument that, for him, this discussion fell under the rubric of missiology while admitting that, for Dever, it is under ecclesiology. This is a strange argument for me: church structure does not fall under ecclesiology? Really? I mean, I understand that people are being reached and coming to Jesus but it seems to me that church structure certainly falls under the doctrine fo the church.
This seems to be the real impasse between Dever and MacDonald/Driscoll. I am much more sympathetic to Dever’s position here. When we consider the many “one another” passages of Scripture (Galatians 6:1-2, etc.), it seems that these notions lend themselves to a church context in which you not only recognize someone in passing but walk in discipleship with them. This seems difficult, if not impossible, when you are in a different “service” than someone, much less a different building across town or even in another state. Are you really even in the same church at that point?
Both MacDonald and Driscoll said that the ultimate goal of each site was to eventually make it an autonomous church plant of its own but both seemed to say that this wouldn’t happen until the end of their careers or if they died. I understand the pragmatic arguments of leveraging celebrity status to meet people for Jesus but is it really helpful? Is it really beneficial for the equipping of saints for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13)?
Ultimately, I think this had the potential to be a meaningful discussion but it just didn’t live up to its potential. There was some fist-bumping and number-comparing but very little biblical/theological discussion.