Harvest Bible Chapel is now on 7 campuses—and each is a story of reluctant expansion, given our greater passion to plant autonomous churches. When dying congregations have come for help or facilities have been given to us, we have infrequently multiplied locations for our own church. Yet we have continued to plant churches in much greater numbers, both locally and around the world, through the leaders we are privileged to train and send out.
While the Scripture commands us in 1 Peter 5:2 to shepherd the flock of God, Ephesians 4 instructs that the pastor-teacher is to equip the saints for the works of ministry, rather than hoarding those responsibilities personally. Those who are effective in that duty frequently see their congregation grow beyond the number that one pastor could shepherd anyway.
In the multi-site model, the primary preacher has entrusted the direct discipling and care of the majority to other pastors and volunteers. But that same thing happens in a church with more than 200, regardless of how many services or locations they gather in. To argue that a church cannot be shepherded biblically unless all the sheep appear to see you preach live, simply denies that reality.
The fact is that most pastors in churches over 200 do not directly shepherd the majority of their people anyway. Pastors are commanded biblically to give ministry away to those they have trained, not to hoard ministry for themselves or seek to contain and control the impact of the gospel in their community through misplaced notions of the division of labor. Multi-site is not for everyone, as a certain death to self is needed to give the ministry away so completely. The ego-centric, “I am the shepherd, all must be under my gaze and control,” will need to go if you hope to multiply fruitfulness through the stewardship of multi-site. I suppose some could argue that an even greater humility is in the sending out a portion of your own congregation with a trained pastor to preach and function independently. That is something we have done frequently and continue to do, but often those who criticize multi-site have not made that sacrifice in their church even once.
Watch this video where our campus pastors and others on their ministry teams interact with and baptize the converts under their pastoral care.
“By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” —John 15:8