Sometimes I get weary of people arguing for one side as though the other does not exist, when in reality it often does. Some arguments involve absolute truth and have only one side. But most division (outside what the Scriptures prescribe specifically) involves matters of great complexity, that bring with them blessings and benefits as wells as struggles and shortcomings. Most of the ‘issues’ we attach our opinion to are much more complicated than the simplicity we embrace to hunker down in a trench of certainty. I was feeling that a bit recently, so I thought rather than respond with the same kind of one-sided argumentation, I would do a “let’s hear it for the other side” post.
Multi-site pastoring is not all it’s cracked up to be. You give up a lot to go to video screens—as a pastor, I mean. I realize many on our team are more gifted at pastoring than I am. I don’t worry at all that our people on each campus aren’t in the good hands of capable under-shepherds we call campus pastors. I don’t agree that the guy who preaches HAS to be the guy who personally cares for each of the sheep (though I believe all pastors must do their share on a team). Peter had lost the singular role of shepherd to the flock on day one in the church. And I am not sure Paul ever embraced it in the way Senior Pastors of small churches sometimes hoard ministry for themselves, in denial of Ephesians 4:1-11. BUT…multi-site does have challenges and limitations, and here are two of the ways I find it limiting to my ministry:
When I am not there in person, I can’t call out high school students for disrespecting the Word of God and curling up to go to sleep, like I did here. (BTW the mother passed along her thanks afterward and wrote me an email to confirm. “Thanks for calling out my kids. My husband and I are new Christians and…” she went on to describe the grief her kids were giving her.)
At the end of communion distribution this past week, just before I led the campus I was on in receiving the elements personally, I sensed in my heart that there were some who had held back—not because of lack of faith in the gospel, but because of shame over sin (see below). Offsite, I can’t sense that, and wait and invite them to come to the front and receive communion directly from the preacher they just heard, as I did here. (But we do have our campus pastors at the front in each location, and I am confident the Lord can lead them just as He leads me in my leading of the service.)
Multi-site gets high marks for reaching more, keeping facilities small, and raising up local leaders to shepherd and disciple, but it also has some inefficiencies. Let’s hear it for the other side once in a while. Can we be honest and say, “Your position has merit—mine is not the only perspective worth considering”? Multi-site is messy and uncomfortable for me, but possibly a very good method for extending the reach of a local church into areas no one is getting to. Possible, but it’s not perfect, or flawless, or without limitations for the people and the pastor. Let’s have less caricatures of the other guy’s argument and more real listening to those who claim to love the same Savior and follow the same Book.
This kind of thinking is good warm up for The Elephant Room. You won’t want to miss it—have you registered yet? Click here to find the site closest to you, and make sure you’re signed up before the price goes up and/or the seats are all taken.