Sep 252013
 

church-plant-handsThe following is a true story.

Many years ago, WalMart was building a new store in our small town.

Before they opened, two representatives of the corporation stopped by the local pharmacy and informed the proprietor that he might as well close his doors now.

 

The size and buying power of the giant was going to put him out of business.

He informed them otherwise and showed them the door.

He weathered the storm…personal service and knowing your customer still mattered here.

Today, he is still in business and prospering, the WalMart is closed.

The following is a composite story happening all over the country.

The town is small and so are it’s churches.

Most of the churches have been there quite some time and the pastors have been faithful in serving though the ground is hard and the reward has been small.

Those pastors have no grandiose vision…no vision to be anything but faithful to those they have been called to serve in numbers many or few.

It is a difficult, holy, and noble calling.

In the larger town….twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy miles away, sits the mega church.

That pastor does have grandiose visions…his church is large, therefore he must be one of God’s special messengers.

He sees the little town as a “mission field” and though he would not speak it out loud, he thinks the faithful pastor is a failure.

Just look at the numbers…

The “special” one will go to the small town…not in person, mind you, but he will bring a video screen and perhaps some musicians and show them all how it’s really done.

He will pipe his face and his sermons in via that screen and his minions will provide coffee and comfortable seating.

This is called a “planting a church”.

What it really is could be described as “ecclesiastical imperialism”, “corporate arrogance”, or my preferred term, which is best left unwritten.

Many of these “church plants” will fail, but only after stripping some people from each of those faithful, small churches and making the struggle for those left behind that much more difficult.

Some will succeed, having convinced the shallow that bigger is better and a better show is all that matters.

God forbid that the anointed ones simply come alongside a work already there…or go to some place like South Dakota where they actually need new churches.

No, the ego of the great ones must dominate the whole area they dwell in and when that can’t contain them they must look beyond their borders for more.

This is a call to resistance, to see this trend for what it really is, which is nothing more than “ecclesiastical imperialism'”…a corporate takeover of the local church and all it stands for and provides to the local community.

Bigger is not necessarily better and the love of a local shepherd is infinitely more valuable than the ego of the religious celebrity.

Support your local church and tell the mega pastor to “plant this”.

  232 Responses to “Plant This”

  1. Thanks Michael. Glad the local small town pharmacist is still in business….. (bummed that that little Walmart in Talent closed, replaced by the huge one)….

    Sigh….yes, the mega “church plants”, so called….. time will tell and show the fruit….I will say that it is a blessing for folks in small churches to now and then hear other preachers/preaching…. It may stimulate the appetite for the Word or re open the ears of the hearers who have heard the same words from a long time pastor….. ‘may’….
    The influence of a ‘special’ ‘called’ ‘pastor’ can be positive, but superficial…. hopefully, will make people think (and pray) and wake up.

  2. Awesome. So true and well said.

    It just so hard for many to ignore new shiny things…

  3. Michael,
    Well said, and accurately describes. This is about an ego of a leader and those who have vicariously attached themselves to him in fulfilling his quest to dominate a region, because after all, those guys who pastor little churches just aren’t getting it done. God cannot do it without them. It is the arrogance of the wasi’chu that too many swallow hook, line and sinker because they have believed the lie that only their brand matters which is expressed in their manifest destiny to control all the land.

  4. Paige,

    The funny part is that the huge one has less stuff than the little one did…another appropriate metaphor. 🙂

  5. Life is strange. Have a wonderful day, my dear….

  6. The mega churches have the money, so I don’t understand why they don’t invest into areas where people are crying out for a church, rather than in communities where you could throw a rock and hit a church, and perhaps even hit a church from the same movement/denomination.

    In these days of internet, with live web casts, etc. why would anyone choose to go to a video church? I would just stay home in my PJ’s and watch from the comfort of my home rather than fighting crowds to watch on a screen. Then use the time to cook a nice meal and have folks over for lunch/fellowship.

    What kind of “Pastor” is through a TV screen?? Will he send to the hospital a video tape of him praying for me, with a bottle of anointing oil, when I am ill? Teacher…sure…pastor…no.

  7. Ixtlan,

    Well said.
    This whole scenario is an ego driven lie from the pit of hell.
    It is another diversion from the local church as an organic body of believers to a off Broadway road show.

  8. Nonnie,

    They usually appoint someone without the requisite polish and charisma for the screen to do the visitations.

  9. “Off Broadway road show.” LOL!!!

  10. It happens in the big metro areas as well. My home city is on the eastern edge of L.A.’s urban sprawl, in an area known as the Inland Empire. We have our scattering of mega churches in the area (Greg Laurie’s Harvest is best known), yet so many of the large churches further West (closer to the rich coast) want to start their video churches out our way. Be it Saddleback or the smaller, less-famous large churches, they all think people will be better served listening to a live band and then watching a video screen. Bleh. What is it with the “just entertain me” crowd? Is it just selfishness or ignorance about what “church” really is?

  11. @#8

    I used to be one of those guys. It was much more rewarding than public speaking. I always thanked God for my lack of the right stuff, and refused all efforts to polish the rough edges.

  12. Generally, there are no hospital visits. As I was told by a mega-pastor friend, “That is small church mentality.”

    This is a great article Michael, and so true. Of course, there are exceptions, but the rhetoric makes the point in this case.

  13. I am not into the mega church or celebrity pastor, but it seems one mans way of being global (on mission to affect culture) is another mans imperialism.

    Is it the teaching you do not like or the means?

    Does the means change the message?

  14. EricL,

    I believe it is a fundamental misunderstanding of what a church is supposed to be.
    We need to redefine and represent the reality to a new generation.

  15. For me, it is the means, and yes, I think the means change the message.

  16. Jim,

    That is true pastoral ministry…and I’ll bet you did it very well.

  17. Thank you, Josh.

  18. I’ve referenced my local CC here before. Totally “just add water”. Meet in a high school, draw a busting at the seems crowd to watch a video feed, and build a $5 million building a year later.

    Chia church…

  19. Great article. Couldn’t agree more.

  20. “Chia church…”
    Priceless!

  21. “I believe it is a fundamental misunderstanding of what a church is supposed to be.”

    Yep. “What can I get?” vs. “What can I bring?”

  22. Q,

    When you read the NT you will find letters addressed to local congregations.
    Each one has different challenges, strengths, and weaknesses.
    So it is in any local church.
    You can’t know those needs and strengths unless you live among the congregation.
    When I bring a message from the text to my church I know what parts of the text need to be emphasized according to where they are in their spiritual walk and maturity.
    That message wouldn’t be as effective in another church…it would still be true, but not as applicable to them.
    I was called to a specific group of people to invest in…I’m not called to raise other shepherds sheep.

  23. Very good as I go to one of those small churches where the pastor was faithful for 20 yrs until the Lord took him home this past November.The church might get 30 on a Sunday and I have been to home Bible studies that are larger on Wednesday nites andour new pastor has been there from the start of the Church and is a faithful servant to.. BTW it is CC Lakewood Ca

  24. Q,

    One more thing and it’s very important to me…and should be to all.
    Everyone in the church has a gift and everyone in the body is needed if the body is to function properly.
    When you boil the church down to one persons gifting it becomes a performance, not a communion of the saints.
    When someone is missing at my church it really is an empty space and we are weaker until they return.
    One of my members died a couple of years ago…and I still feel that loss every Sunday.
    That’s how I think it’s supposed to be.

  25. Steve,

    That’s a very good thing…let him know he matters.
    Sometimes, they doubt that in a world that measures success by numbers.

  26. http://www.pajamapages.com/mega-church-conundrum/

    That is a link to blog I wrote about this issue a few years ago (yes, under an assumed name). Still seems relevant to me.

  27. in business, like my cafe or catering, there is pressure to duplicate a good thing and “franchise it.” We have been asked to open ‘another’ one in a neighboring town so the locals there could enjoy what we have to offer instead of driving 10-30 minutes to ours. It’s flattering, but unnecessary. There’s only so much of us to go around, and part of what makes our business work locally is our hands-on involvement. That can’t be duplicated. In a similar way, ministry cannot be duplicated by a ‘successful’ pastor either. It won’t be the same; it can’t be.

  28. Wow, Josh! That Stanley quote is shocking. It’s true for his ilk, but shame on him to claim the title of pastor then. Teacher, administrator, entertainer…OK. Not a pastor. Good article.

  29. This is a really good article, Michael.

  30. This made me think about a recent trip we took. We stayed at a B&B that was on a small, family run, dairy farm. Our host told us that they don’t make much money off of the dairy cows, so they supplement with the B&B. They have 200 head of cattle and she knows the each one by name. Her face lights up when she tells us stories about them and their individual traits. It is obvious that she loves what she is doing and loves her cows. When we visited a couple of years ago she proudly showed us a magazine cover that had one of her “ladies” on it, and that gentle cow was being led by her 3 year old grand daughter. It was a beautiful photograph. We asked about the cow and our host, with tears in her eyes, told us that she had died last year from a spinal injury. She told us that she wouldn’t have her butchered for her meat. She told us she sat with her and cried as the vet “just put her to sleep.”

    Now compare that to the huge dairies that are undercutting these small farmers, bringing them to ruin, and only using the poor beasts that produce for them.

    Make your own application

  31. Xenia,

    Thank you!

  32. Well done, Nonnie!

  33. @27
    That is a great article that raises some important points regarding the fallacies of mega churches and their multi-site red haired step children.

  34. Point well made, Nonnie.

  35. fil,

    Having tasted your work, it can’t be duplicated.
    It’s as good as it gets…

  36. In my parish, Father G. knows every one of us by name and addresses us by name as we go up for Communion: “Servant of God Xenia receives the Body and Blood of Christ….” He baptizes our babies and our converts, he performs our weddings and funerals, he visits us when we’re sick and invites everyone to his house for Christmas and Easter for a big meal. He loves us and prays for each of us by name. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.

  37. It is also really difficult for an underling to share the vision and passion of their “leader,” and supplant their own gifts, capabilities, and calling.

  38. Xenia, your #37 speaks volumes. I can’t think of a much higher praise for a Pastor or Priest. Loving others first matters.

  39. Found this fascinating article by Dave Barry’s son, Sam. He had at one point studied to be a Presbyterian minister and now doesn’t attend church. But he came back for a visit, to an Episcopal church. I think this ties right in to a discussion of megachurches.

    Money quote:

    “What struck me about St. John’s was that the essential reason these people had voluntarily gathered that morning, and many other mornings and evenings, was to build community.

    “Most of the places we gather exist to sell us something—coffee, a meal, clothing, household items. We congregate in movie theaters, bars, malls, ballparks, laundromats, and so on, all of which offer us something in exchange for our money. Even parks, beaches, libraries, and museums, which provide an essential public service, are not designed to build new communities—we go to them alone, or with groups of people to which we already belong.

    “Churches (or synagogues, temples, and mosques) are unusual, in that COMMUNITY BUILDING IS THEIR PRIMARY REASON FOR EXISTENCE (my itals.) I was able to walk in, sit down, break bread, and sing with the members of St. John’s without any invitation. I didn’t need a credit card to join, and no one checked my identification. Sure, the church needs money, and they asked for it, but I was not required to put anything in the plate. I didn’t have to explain why I was there or identify myself, and was invited to join in the peace—a tradition in which the members of the congregation greet each other, shaking hands and saying something along the lines of “Peace be with you.”

    http://redroom.com/member/sam-barry/blog/going-to-the-chapel-of-love

  40. At the end of the age the big guys will fall down( whether they choose to or not), lock eyes with the One whose eyes are like eyes of fire and watch fire fall upon their works that are associated with their treatment of His people.

    End of story.

  41. There’s good in both big and little churches.
    Little churches you can be known.
    Big churches you can be unknown.

    I think there’s a time and a season for each.

    Right now, whenever I can, I attend a recovery focused service at a mega church in town. A smaller church wouldn’t be able to pull this type of service off. That’s not a judgement against little churches, it’s just that this type of service/ministry needs a big base of volunteers to make it work.

    That service has hundreds of people in it every week. People who are there because they know they have a need and it’s a beautiful thing.

    A different, but equal, beauty to a small church where everyone knows everyone else.

  42. “No, the ego of the great ones must dominate the whole area they dwell in and when that can’t contain them they must look beyond their borders for more.”

    That’s the plain truth of the matter, regardless of the ‘but, but, but!’ and spin about how it’s all for the Lord etc.

  43. Let me ask a question with a quick disclaimer: I personally dislike video churches as I see no need and I believe people need a pastor teaching them and loving them in person! I am NOT trying to defend the practice though I also cannot judge those who seem to think they are helpful. This is about small vs. large churches…

    It is impossible for me to know everyone by name/face in the church I pastor. Everything we do flies in the face of how the experts say we should grow a church. No advertising, no membership drives and (Because I am the pastor) there is certainly zero cool factor! Still, I can’t keep people away. What am I to do? We have planted 13 churches and are about to plant another. Yet last Sunday I looked at a back window with people peering in because they were told we were at capacity and they needed to return for a later service. I just asked my staff to find a way to accomodate 75 more chairs in the sactuary. For those of you who say a pastor/priest should know everyone or we cannot effectively pastor them, what are we to do when (I think) the Lord keeps bringing more people? Isn’t it true that we all need to play the hand we are dealt and do the best we can with it? At least that makes sense to me.

  44. fyi,

    Valid question…my immediate thought would be to keep planting…and keep raising up elders and workers to care for everyone.
    Keep doing what you’re doing…

  45. fyi, this is a good problem to have. I say a good problem because people are wanting to hear the Word of God being taught and this is always a good thing. It is a problem none the less because the “shepherd” factor is neglected or choked out (at no fault of your own). There are many bright people who post here as you well know and I will be interested in seeing what they post. I will be praying for you.

  46. fyi said, ” Isn’t it true that we all need to play the hand we are dealt and do the best we can with it?”

    I think this is true as well. There is no cookie cutter formula. You’ve got decent guys like fyi who take little money and work hard and somehow they are inundated even though they aren’t flashy and don’t marketing-plan themselves into ‘success’ where others with a similar good approach don’t have growth and don’t have growing pains.

    Tough one. Probably harder for the good guy to deal with with growth than a businessman preacher whose in it for the money, fame and power.

    What does a pastor do who sincerely wants to know those at his church, doesn’t make a bunch of money off of Jesus and doesn’t try be famous and big through marketing and guru-ship etc?

    I guess you could start preaching in Leviticus and Deuteronomy for a couple years, that’d thin the herd LOL.

  47. fyi –
    I think you’re cool. 🙂

    I praise God for the blessing that He is bringing in the church you pastor.

  48. Tim, I think you are in danger of losing your cool card if you think I am cool! 🙂

  49. Yeah, sounds like fyi is doing the right thing. If God keeps sending people, my guess would be that id for the purpose of equipping them to reach more people.

  50. RB @47; now that’s funny!

  51. I must live in a closet. I don’t know anyone personally who goes to a video church. I know Rick Warren has them in the area, but I have yet to run into anyone saying they go there.

    But hey, at a lecture, does it matter if it is live or on a screen? Half the people in a mega church sit in the same sanctuary as the pastor and still watch him on the Jesus Jumbotron.

  52. We interrupt this stream of consciousness with a word from our Sponsor through one of His peeps…

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/ebc4a7886e875cc42a5fb4e50aa4fa77/tumblr_mtodzoUxBo1qmdq74o1_500.jpg

    You may now return to your discussion, hopefully enriched just a little.

  53. My church has only 50 people in it .We used to have over 90 till the local seeker sensitive mega church took all of our young single and couples.Rock music and christian entertainment reigns.

  54. Straight preferential judgment here.

    What constitutes a church?
    The Presence of God
    The People of God
    Word and Sacrament.

    Whether it’s big or small
    Corporate or mom and pop
    Video or live taught or no taught

    Everything else is just priviledged judgment
    It’s one thing for it to not be your thing
    It’s another thing to like how you do it.
    It’s another thing to pass a moral judgment on those who do it different.

    It’s not church against church.
    Any time it is, Satan wins

  55. Fusco…you’re late.
    I expected you five minutes after it posted.
    You don’t actually address any of the concerns I raised, you just make your own moral judgment.
    It sounds all holy and that, but until you address the real issues it’s also a load.

  56. Amen, preach it brother Michael!
    As you remember, a wonderful church here, with an outreach to the university area, was sold out by its pastor to a certain Washington denom. that turned it into a video venue. We left gagging, and upbraided by the pastor to boot.

  57. Nothing like playing the “Satan” card to get everyone to genuflect and shut up.
    Not gonna happen.

  58. Linnea,

    I remember…and the response you got probably was similar to what Fusco just unloaded.

  59. Fusco’s post assumes that there are NO instructions for the New Testament Church, given in scripture. He says God, people, Word and Sacrament (are CC’s sacramental?!?!), and everything else is just preference. That is easily refuted: Stripper poles on Sunday morning. Why not? Just preference? Of course not. While we don’t have definitive instructions for every aspect of 2013 worship, we do have more than Fusco offered above.

    While these kind of conversations may be difficult for some, these are the exact kind of conversations we need to be having. This is sort of like my point about persecution. This is an issue that we can discuss and disagree strongly about, but as far as I’ve see, noone is condemning anyone to Hell.

  60. Understand that Fusco is a proponent of multi site and video…and could be coming to a screen near you.
    He’s not going to like the perspective I gave.

  61. Sorry I was late
    Don’t read the pp much these days

    Not trying to shut down the discussion

    It’s again a small church preference discussion.

    I am not necessarily a video or multi-site proponent
    But I do understand it from spending much time talking about it and researching it
    If it works, great.
    If it doesn’t great

    But I will retire once again
    Sorry to comment
    I’ll go plant it 😉

  62. Fusco,

    Wise move.
    I won’t let you obfuscate, however.
    This is not just about preference….it’s about ethics, ego, and what constitutes a church.
    It would be to your advantage to frame this as being about preferences…but it’s about so much more than that.

  63. It’s not necessarily a *small* church discussion, it’s a *real* church discussion. A real church can be large. A screen with some loudspeakers is just a TV show.

  64. Fusco read those books I sent you, for crying out loud!

  65. Xenia,

    LOL! 🙂

  66. Michael, well said. Probably one of your best; unfortunately, it is so sad.

    In todays “successful” church, you must have large numbers; a radio program; a best seller (or at least several books on all subjects where you are the expert); and, of course, frequent press coverage (TV and otherwise). All too sad.

    I just finished “Jungle Pilot,” the story of Nate Saint (the sad thing is that most in the church today don’t even know who he is). By today’s standard of success, he and his fellow missionaries were failures. After all, they died trying to reach their “target group” and never lead a single ne to Christ. Yet, as Elisabeth Elliot’s book is so aptly titled, they entered “Through Gates of Splendor.”

    The measure of success of men is highly coveted in our day; yet, in God’s estimation (which is the only one that really matters), the success of men is failure. Nate and his friends ministry was, no doubt, a “success” to the One whose estimation really mattered. And through their sacrifice (modeled by their Savior), a peoples destined for death were granted life through Christ. And, oh yeah, their deaths were followed by women who ministered life to their killers and brought an entire stone age tribe to Christ. And forgave those who killed heir husbands. Definitely not todays “paradigm.”

    Sorry to go on. Your post just really struck me.

  67. Rick and Kay Warren on Piers Morgan. Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus. You just can’t turn on the news without hearing the gospel. We are in a great something, not sure what to call it, but it is good. Awesome, really. In 1959, God was dead.

    Big “churches”, little churches, I don’t care.

  68. randall,

    You could have gone on as long as you wanted to…well said.

  69. “Generally, there are no hospital visits. As I was told by a mega-pastor friend, “That is small church mentality.””

    Josh the Baptist, my first visit to Midwest City Medical Center (in Midwest City), I went by the Chaplin’s office (which was always my habit) to let him/her know I was visiting a Church member. He paused and told me that in his experience, pastors almost never visited their congregants. I guess I am naïve, but I was shocked. How could a “shepard” not visit a member of the flock God entrusted to his care? Really? “Small church mentality?” What ever happened to, “I was sick and you visited Me?” I cannot understand such callousness.

  70. Michael, please remove this post if it’s going to lead us off topic but Fusco’s attitute and comments are exactly what your article describes as a pastor with a grandiose vision. It is also is very typical of what is happening within his tribe. Stepping on others to make a name for yourself is the ultimate example of pride. Unfortunately this is also an example of what one of the factions resulting from Chuck’s death will look like.

  71. I think the crux of the issue for me is that a church (parish) is so much more than a sermon delivery system. If that’s all it is, just locate (maybe have a contest, “American Idol for Preachers”) and folks can vote using their cell phones and choose the best preacher. He can beam his sermons into every church across the country. In fact, why even go to church at all when you can stay home in your pajamas and bunny slippers and watch it on TV? Or on your smart phone as you do other important stuff.

    Think how efficient this is. No one else has to go to seminary, no one else has to spend a few hours in sermon prep, the Idol Preacher doesn’t have to visit anyone in the hospital or do funerals or marry anyone- well, maybe he will perform these duties for big donors. Communion? Check under your seat, folks, we have individually wrapped communion kits for each and every attendee. Are you a genuine Christian? We don’t know and we don’t care!

  72. Covered,

    I won’t remove it, I might frame it. 🙂

  73. Xenia,

    #73…amen.

  74. We are so screen-oriented in this country. I think for some people the only non-screen time they might have in their entire week is Sunday morning church with live music and a live speaker. We do not need more screen time.

  75. I’d like to snark on Fusco, but he’s a good guy and I like his music and did speak out some in the BG situation which is a lot more than most. At least he’s spreading the better version of CC and is not in the Traditionalist retarded fundamentalist CC Camp.

  76. The issue as I see it is the same as the church abuse issues:

    Where you have Demand, you will find Supply.

    There is a large group of folks who want celebrity idol pastors and a good show. The celebrity pastors thrive where there are audiences hungry for what they’re selling. it’s not the ideal, it feels bad, it looks bad, but it’s more a function of people’s lusts and desires than a reflection on the opportunists giving them what they want.

    A pox on both buyer and seller IMO….but they get what they order…a show and they get to give to support its infrastructure and as a libertarian leaner philosophically, I guess they can have at it…but buyer beware, you get what you pay for.

    I do see a legit beef from the hard-working small guys who get some of their support siphoned off by the bright shiny new-car-smell “ministries” that roll into their hoods…but that’s ‘Merican capitalism at work.

  77. …which is essentially the metaphor Michael uses in the article. The battle between Small Biz and Wal-Mart. Good metaphor, IMO.

  78. RB hit it on the head with 78.

  79. Slap me upside the head and call me a gerbil! I agree with RB!

  80. Having also read the link stating that Hillsong would be opening a church in Los Angeles is similar to this one with the difference you’re getting the mega church itself which will also achieve growth via existing churches.

    What is sad is the fact that sound churches will be losing people to these “attractions.” I’m naive in the sense that I would think that what so many of us crave (healthy churches) turns out not to be enough for some that attend them.

    Where I live in western Orange County, Ca. and the surrounding areas we are surrounded with a lot of alternatives such as Hillsong and the video sites already. You think these folks would have already left these healthy churches already?

    I can more readily understand the areas that are not church saturated losing folks to the newest attraction but am a bit confused about this phenomena taking place in areas such as where I live.

    Is it just because of the newness being offered and is there a continual migration that continually takes place?

  81. Erunner,

    If Lowes comes to town, Home Depot will follow.
    People will go where they get the best deal.

  82. I wonder if Daniel actually has ‘church’ according to his own description.
    1.) the sacraments – do they actually have sacrament – a means of grace where God delivers his grace to us? or…
    2.) does he have an ordinance where we are doing something for or in obedience to God?
    3.) He said “word and sacrament” – now I know that he has the word weekly … does he have the sacraments weekly?
    4.) Can you have word and sacrament without the sacrament?

    and this comes from someone who like Daniel Fusco

  83. I am waiting for the church planter who comes to town and in their start up advertising literature make a bold, clear statement.

    “CHRISTIANS NOT WELCOMED – STAY IN YOUR OWN CHURCH – WE ARE HERE FOR THE LOST ONLY.”

  84. Michael, Sound churches produce sound believers? Maybe that’s not the case. Maybe in every church there are those who aren’t looking for a church home but for something else. Some might call this blessed subtraction but I wonder if these pastors ever wonder if they have failed those who leave in some way? I hope not.

  85. Speaking up from South Dakota – we don’t need another church like that, thank you very much. 🙂

    I play on the “contemporary music worship team” at a mega church in Sioux Falls. Due to changes in life circumstances, we moved back across the border to Minnesota, where I volunteered to help the little (800 member) church with their music as well. The mega church tried really, really hard to get the video thing to take at three services, Saturday evening at 6:30 PM, Sunday at 1 PM, and Wednesday evenings at 6:30 PM. Tried – and failed. The numbers told the story; every video service was losing people to the services where the senior pastor was live – even if they *were* watching him on the “Jesus Jumbotron”, he was there, and that makes a difference in people’s minds.

    I don’t care if you are big church, small church, mega or giga church – if you are not discipling and making disciples, you are not fulfilling the Great Commission and are instead a nice social club with interesting music and a motivational speaker who has twenty odd minutes of a program to get their bullet points across.

    It is easy to point out the sins of the big-box church model, though, isn’t it? Who does this church belong to – Christ or man?

    Never will be a fan of video church – why attend when I can watch it on TV, and if I can do that, I’ll do it at home and complete my journey towards the Dark Side…

  86. MLD,

    Don’t hold your breath…

  87. “I don’t care if you are big church, small church, mega or giga church – if you are not discipling and making disciples, you are not fulfilling the Great Commission and are instead a nice social club with interesting music and a motivational speaker who has twenty odd minutes of a program to get their bullet points across.”

    Rick…well said!

  88. Thanks, Michael – I’m not new to the rodeo. 🙂

    Pop by sometimes to my little bistro on the web; I’d love to hear you on the stuff I write on the same – and other – issues that face us as followers.

  89. Rick,

    Post a link if you’d like to.

  90. X, Josh, the End Times wonks just noted your agreement with me…and updated their Prophecy Charts. The end is near… 🙂 😆

  91. This is the most recent post:
    http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com/2013/09/ecce-homo/

    If you remember Latin, the title is “Behold the man” 🙂

    Other posts? By title, rather than loading you with links, would be Bully (in the) Pulpit, The Most Important Person, Minority Report – those can get you started 🙂

    I linked to you – and found your blog, which I now follow via RSS feed) based off one of your LINKS posts 🙂

  92. http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com/2013/06/were-doing-it-wrong-part-ii/ is another one you might want to look at 🙂

  93. Folks…that is a blog worth reading.
    There’s some really good material, Rick.
    http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com

  94. Thanks, Michael – I try not to waste my readers time, even though I do tend to write longer posts (my average post is around 1K words). The post I was looking for earlier to steer you to? Here – I got sidetracked by reading elsewhere 🙂

    http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com/2013/07/how-it-works-part-iii/

  95. So as I drove to and from church tonight
    I spent time thinking about this thread

    Here is why I do not agree with the post
    I realize I do this against my own better judgment as it is the minority opinion

    Here’s why I don’t agree

    1) If all church is is a Sunday morning meeting
    – a video venue is only the message portion of a worship gathering
    Church is so much more than that (just a message on a Sunday)
    By saying a gathering of people is not valid (or good or even evil) because the message portion is a video demeans church

    There are small churches where the only have a Sunday meeting.
    But I think we all agree that church is not meant to be something we go to once a week

    So what if you have a church with a video teaching, the people there are connected in community all week, love one another and serve in their community. At that point, the sermon is just a small part of something much deeper and more beautiful

    2) It is all ego or just celebrity to have a video venue of yourself
    Now I don’t know why some preachers are popular or not. I don’t konw what attracts people to certain teachers. But people are. For whatever reason there are 1000s of people who would rather listen to someone on a video than maybe 50 to hear someone in person.

    Jesus’ success is measured in faithfulness. So one is not better or worse. But for some reason, there are certain people who mass numbers want to listen to and there others who are not that way. I believe in God’s economy it is all good.

    3) That a pastor has to be everything for everyone
    – As a pastor of a smaller church, I wore every hat. Some I was really good at and some I just got done. IF the church is truly a body, then there will be different members but one body. I don’t ask my doctor to fix my heating system. I don’t ask my kid’s teacher to do my taxes. It is not wrong for a division of labor with everyone in their sweet spot. It may be more egotistical to say that I have to be everything as a pastor than to say, I am really good at x, and there are other people here who are really good at y & z.

    4) No matter what happens, the people who stay are members of the local congregation.
    I have been a small church pastor where larger churches planted in town and people left to go there. I am also now a pastor of a mega church where over the years, many church plants have happened and each one takes people from the mega church. It’s a unique phenomena. So what I have found is that whatever happens, the people who stay through it all, that is a local body. If people leave for the new big church, well then God bless them. If people leave for the new small church plant, well then God bless them. The people who stay through it all- that’s the family of faith. But people moving around churches is an absolute two way street. Believe me I have seen it from both sides. To me it is like shouting at the rain because it falls downward. In the western church, there will always be a mobile component. I have seen as we all have. And we have all done it.

    5) Michael, I agree that if a pastor is planting to put another chruch out of business. Well we all agree that that is weak. But to place all the pastors in that vain is reckless. You are good writer and provocative, but pushback is inevitable when things like the following are said:
    “Some will succeed, having convinced the shallow that bigger is better and a better show is all that matters.”
    and
    “He sees the little town as a “mission field” and though he would not speak it out loud, he thinks the faithful pastor is a failure.”
    and
    “Bigger is not necessarily better and the love of a local shepherd is infinitely more valuable than the ego of the religious celebrity.”
    and
    “Support your local church and tell the mega pastor to “plant this”.”

    This is why I call your position preferential.

    Bigger isn’t better but neither is smaller
    But calling a mega church not “your local church”
    By saying that the love of a local shepherd has to be the guy who teaches
    By saying that a guy who is planting a video campus thinks all the existing pastors are failures.

    It makes for great provocative writing
    But I don’t think it is fair
    Sure there are some people who roll that way
    But the broad brush is unfair

    THis is why I push back.
    So those are my thoughts for whatever it is worth
    If I am misinterpreting those quotes above in regards to your intention or focus, please add some commentary to it but if I just take you at your word, people at a video venue are shallow, pastors with video campuses think small church pastors are failures and that it is somehow wrong to have grandiose vision.

    Again sorry to join in.

  96. Fusco!!!!
    ‘Sup?

  97. Daniel, I don’t believe you owe an apology for replying. I have always appreciated you and your heart for the gospel and people. I don’t agree with you on this issue, but I do respect you as a pastor and brother in Christ.

    I would like you to comment on what you meant in your first post, when you used the phrase, ” word and sacraments.”

  98. Michael,

    I get what you are saying in your comments to me.

    I wonder is your means just more ‘organic’ and less corporate, but the same goal.

    You said if I read the NT… do you seriously think i don’t and haven’t?

    I bet my life on it. Not church tradition.

    Are they just more aggressive in building the kingdom and you are just more organic?

    I am waiting for Jesus, but do believe in the fellowship of the saints in real relationship.

    I do not believe in laity vs clergy or vise versa…I believe in the brotherhood of the saints with some maybe more gifted, some more disciplined, maybe some more intelligent, but all equal in Christ and needing each other.

    The mega’s and the ’emergent’s to me both miss, but perhaps have the same goal, which I usually differ in., but love the saints.

  99. Daniel,
    I don’t think that church planting is even in question here. I think what is objectionable is the multi site and video – and i think that goes to the pastor’s heart and motives. Big named pastors need to help ween people off their addiction to celebrity pastors – not feed the addiction. If you need to be on a screen, go on TV. We tease about TV preachers, but at least they do serve the shut in population.

    Plant a church and leave behind a pastor … one who actually preaches to his own congregation.

  100. I had a conversation with a friend today that further illustrates the validity of Michael’s article. He has attended a very large Calvary now for about 10 years. That is the extent of his exposure to Christianity. He has heard all the stories of the past glory days, is able to recite them and perceives them as templates of reality which many seemingly similar situations are be poured into. And he could not be more wrong, but unfortunately, he has bought into a culture which has given him a shadow of the substance.

    He knows all the big shots, proudly tells me about conversations with them, which are only small sound bites in his day. But he cherishes them because they validate his association with what is mainly an impersonal church experience where he is really perceived as just a drop in the sea of humanity. What he really needs is someone to come along side of him a teach him the fundamental elementary ways of God and what it really means to walk in His Spirit. It will probably never happen to him because there he is rarely seen as the individual child of God that he is, and he is too enamored with the infrequent brushes with celebrities that continue to fill his need of self esteem. After all these years, he talks a great religion, but there is a leanness to his soul. I have to wonder whether his quest for the church experience has been a grasp of the image instead of the Person.

    He has grown much in the big church culture, but very little in Christ.

  101. Just an aside you know I paid off the loan on the place I live at, after plunking down another 7 K I was able to clear the deed. In typical brian fashion they are now attempting to convert the Mobile home part that would never be converted to converting it. So our home values went into the literal negative. We cant even pay people to take buy our homes. When some on the market lost say 20% of their home values I lost over 100%. So I am stuck here until conversion or self purchase. Why the analogy. I sit here in a sea of pictures trying to close out the lives on a family. I have a brother left and he is a fine person but for the most part I was it. I shared this here with my last post concerning science giving my family some peace where faith did not. It was read wrong, my mother and sister and even my father appreciated prayer, they would have never asked for it, sort of like me to some degree, but they longed for it.

    I admit I am an turd and at times a morally blind even morally bankrupt person. It is not easy posting such things, But like I said this really is the only real funnel I have as an outlet to some maybe like minded faith oriented people. I will admit to even being a fraud, been a fraud many years in some ways. When I am at church I am a fraud I say nothing like I state here. I find being rude or disruptive in a church environment horrid and it makes me ill so I do not do that.

    So I am swimming in this sea of pictures going through them in this home with just a cat. I chucked tv about three or four months ago, dont miss it a bit. Got passed some issues Alex discussed concerning family abuse issues and wanted to comment on this. Small Churches can be great but they can also be painful, there is way to much control in far to little hands and the people there can take on a kind of cult mentality. Big churches can do the same. My struggle is that I cant, in good conscience sign doctrinal agreements that I disagree with. I cant agree with YEC, literal gen 1-11 or even a literal hell as I understand it. So I dont sign them, but outside of here and the other blog I do not express them. This has been sort of a place to share my deepest doubts and most frustrating experiences. I drone on about vile this and evil that, it is the extreme of the logical conclusions as I see it that some doctrines lead to.

    Personally I just wanted to honor my mother and father, even when they may have failed me, God knows I failed them. My mother so wanted to die at home but I just could not do it, I lacked the economic resources and to this day it kills me that she did not. She did pass among many many family I mean they filled up the room and I was by her side all the way. But I did fail her and that I will carry to my death and that alone is worthy of hell, and that is not some way to gain sympathy I dont want it. It is just how I feel not what I think and there is a difference.

    I like mega churches in the sense that I can hide yet still be around people. It takes so much concentration just to deal with the constant physical pain that I cant do the personal hat dance one must do to be in relation with people. There are times I can be a phony, maybe just because I want to get some type of reaction. I am coming to understand that way of approaching issues does not work to well. One cant continue to be a raw nerve going around looking for someone to whack it so I can feel the pain just to think I’m living.

    I will admit I dont like Chuck Smith or CC very much, I really never have but I would never wish cancer on anyone, its an awful disease just awful. We have made a small inroads to mitigating some of it. I know the pain medication was crucial from a quality of life issue concerning my sisters cancer. The induced coma was also very helpful in the sense that she stopped thinking the people living in the ceiling were trying to get her. As Alex posted some of his family issues here and on the other blog I grew to really appreciate what he said. It resonated “gag” with me. I am not as aggressive as Alex but I am a pain in the butt because I can be passive aggressive and often so cryptic as to just make people think I am on some self induced trip into next dimension.

    Trust me if you will, sharing what I do here is not easy, often it sticks with me all day as do the responses, and I am glad about that. The fraud comment really hit home, it made me think and really re-examine my statements which are often posted late at night, and often several days into a no real sleep week. Not an excuse just a point of view. It is funny that these few names in digital space become more important to me in some ways then some of my real world spiritual connections. An aside, and not to cause an argument but there is a huge conflict between modern science and some tenets of orthodox Christianity. I did not just pull that conflict out of the air though I have pulled many other blabberings I say here out of that place. Look I am offering what I can to this conversation at personal risk just like most of you. I dont mind the risk because I like many of you, some others I cant stand but I respect you. There is no one here or on the other blog that I do not listen to. Offered for what its worth.

  102. Ixtlan @103….well said.

    Reflecting on my own experience, even participation in small life or kinship groups can lull us into staleness in our faith if we don’t challenge each other to maturity.

    Knowing this isn’t a Catholic forum, but having lots of Catholic relatives, I’ve been following the controversy around the new Pope. To some, he seems to be embracing a seeker friendly model. To others, he is simply doing what Jesus would do. This might be a great discussion for another thread– how do we keep the essentials of the faith while reaching out to those outside of it? What would that look like?

  103. “but there is a huge conflict between modern science and some tenets of orthodox Christianity.”

    This is absolutely untrue. I do not know of any Christians (there may be a few on the fringe) who dispute anything that science has proved – proved is the key word.

    Are Christians at odds with science over gravity? the distance of the planets? the chemical make up of anything on the periodic charts? I could go on and on.

    You are mis reading the dispute – it is over the Philosophy of science … not science itself.

    Science proves a fetus is human. Christians do not dispute that at all. The philosophy of science says the fetus may be human but is not a person – Christianity disputes that all day long.

    brian – science cannot prove personhood – but they banter it around like it is a proven item and has been put to bed, and then you ask “why do these crazy Christians dispute science? It’s not science being disputed … it’s philosophy being disputed.

    To your hot point – science cannot prove one way or the other – was everything created or did it just come about. So, since they cannot prove …

  104. London – Sup sista!!!!

    Nonnie/MLD – by sacraments (and I realize that some Protestant chruches avoid the word in favor of ordinances), I mean certain Christian rituals of import.
    ie Baptism, Communion
    -obviously different traditions add other sacraments based on other things/reasonings

    So a church, stripped down to the core would be the Presence of God, the People of God, the Word of God and Distinct Christian rites (ie. Sacraments).

    At Crossroads we have communion weekly at our midweek and once a month on Sunday. Some home groups do it in groups.

    So again, for me, the multisite (maybe video) venue is not problematic because that is just the delivery system for the word. If I went to church and someone uncovered actual video series of Calvin or Augustine or Wesley or Whitfield or Francis of Assisi or Luther or Zwingli whoever and we watched that for the Word portion, I would not be upset in the slightest.

    For me church is so much more than a sermon, or a lead pastor, or a teaching pastor.
    For me the discussion is akin to how I get my information. For a long time it was newspapers. People focused on the newspaper in itself instead that a newspaper is an information delivery system. THose newspapers that realized the later weren’t offended by the internet (which is an updated information delivery system) and jumped in. Those who were focused on the newspaper didn’t and perished. Now I am not saying that you have to do video venue or perish. I am just using it as an example that a video teaching is simply a Word delivery system. One of many. The Word is the Word. It’s delivery system can be many things.
    But again that is simply my (minority here) opinion.

  105. I’m not even a fan of most church planting. A while back some smiling men came to the door and invited me to their brand-new popsicle stand- er, church. They were Baptists, they said. I told them that our little town already had eleven Baptist churches and in fact, there was a Baptist church just across my house in plain view of the conversation. Why did our town need another Baptist church and what was so special about them? They gave me a version of the “New Wine in New Wineskins” argument- in other words, they had no good answers, they just wanted to start up a church of their own and called their ambition “being led by the Lord.” Well maybe, who knows.

    But this is what passes for church planting in many cases, going to an area that literally has a church on every corner and trying to grab a piece of the pie. They are either trying to grow their enterprise by stealing people from other churches or by wooing the lost. If it’s the first, SHAME ON THEM. If it’s the second, why not join forces with an existing church and help with their outreaches?

  106. Xenia-

    I agree. But, for me, it is a two way street.

    Let’s honestly say that if a church planter went to an existing church, or even a mega church outfit going to a local church and says, how can we help you or can we partner together do you know what happens? Yes, nothing. The new people are told “you are not needed”. Maybe not in every case but I would vouch that in the vast majority of cases. I have experienced it myself. Older existing churches often do not want to partner with the younger new thing. They are threatened by it. So I love the idea of partnerships. But most people don’t even think that way because when it has been attempted it is normally shot down by the existing church. “We don’t need you. We have been faithful here and you are unwanted.” As a chruch planter, that has been my experience. It’s because churches like what they do. The folks who go like it and it is what it is.

    Imagine Jon Courson going to Michael Newnham and asking him how they can partner together.

    It’s the proper sentiment and the ideal but to place the blame solely on the incoming group is that really all that is at play?

    To use your example, what if 50 people find that new Baptist plant a great fit for them. Is that wrong? People who either come to know Jesus through their outreaches? Or people who are disaffected for whatever reason? People who would never find a home in the Orthodox church? or home church? or CC? or Reformed? Sure if it is about pillaging other churches, that is wrong. But if that is not the intention, should we really malign it?

  107. Partnership? Who is talking about partnership? I am talking about going to a church as an ordinary parishioner and helping the pastor and their congregations with their existing programs! Of course no one would expect an existing to church to “partner’ with anyone but I am sure they would appreciate some humble offers of HELP.

    This is all about ambition.

  108. I have never been to a church in all my 61 years where I went to the pastor and asked “How can I help?” that I was EVER turned down. I was always welcomed with open arms.

    Of course, if I went to the pastor and said “Lots of old wine in old wineskins here, pastor. Let me partner with you…. ” Yes, I would be turned down and rightfully so.

  109. “We don’t need you. We have been faithful here and you are unwanted.” <<<

    You would be unwanted if your intentions were to transform the existing church to conform to you own idea of what church should be like. No one likes an usurper but everyone welcomes a humble helper.

  110. “This is all about ambition.”

    Yes, it really is.

  111. you are unwanted.” <<<

    I might also say that when a church transforms into a hip, culturally relevant happening sort of a place, there is a large segment of people – older people- who no longer feel wanted and are basically told to get with the new paradigm or go home.

    Oh, they might toss them a bone and form a group called "Vital Seniors" or something but basically the oldsters and their ideas are unwanted.

  112. MD @ 102.
    Nailed it.

  113. Take a look at Daniel’s blog.

  114. A lot of these small corner church have great ideas, brain children of an older generation that is now too frail (or deceased) to do much anymore. Programs to evangelize neighborhood children, programs to provide meals to shut ins, and so forth. These programs eventually peter out, not because the ideas aren’t good but because all the energetic young men and women who should be stepping into the shoes of the oldsters have left for hipper venues.

  115. Xenia,

    Your answers have been so very wise and spot on with what I wanted to communicate.
    This leads me to yet another point.
    I wrote the lead article…but the depth and clarity that were needed came from the comments of the community.
    Make your own application… 🙂

  116. Daniel, just to reiterate, I appreciate you hanging in here and explaining things to us here, even though I completely disagree with this. Regardless, I know you are a man of integrity and sincerity in your love for Christ. Thank you for giving us a clear picture of what this whole video planting is about. However, it has made it even more clear to me how much I dislike it and believe it is just pastor/celebrity centred rather than Christ centred.

    I think Xenia is speaking volumes of wisdom and truth here.

  117. Interesting that Fusco would bring up Courson.
    It’s common knowledge here that Courson will not partner with anyone for anything and he frowns on his people getting involved in non Applegate events.
    On the other hand…
    A number of years ago the local Foursquare pastors computer died and the funds were not available to replace it.
    I was in his office when a brand new one arrived…courtesy of Courson.
    There are ways to come alongside struggling churches that don’t involve broadcasting your face next door to them.

  118. MIchael’s 120: Beautiful! That is love in action, and to GOD be the glory!

  119. I’m impressed when a church is planted in an unchurched area. Planting in church infested areas is either a business decision, with the planter knowing full well that their presence will harm existing churches, or the height of spiritual arrogance-“they need us/we’re better”.

  120. Jim…exactly.

  121. Michael-
    I wrote 5 points @98

    I would love your thoughts on it if you are so inclined

    But I did write out my reasoning for disagreeing

    – on anther note, is it anathema to have a video venue on your own campus? We did it because there were people who didn’t like the large sanctuary and more energetic music. We have some 75 people who are there, on our campus, every Sunday at 9 am in our smaller chapel with different worship. All Crossroads folks.

    Is that a bad move?
    Unhealthy?
    Just wondering the collective ideas on such a move (although I believe I already know what you guys think)

    Nonnie –
    THanks for the kindness. I am not perfect and I surely do not have it all together. I love the fact that a video venue is not for you. I don’t think that is wrong. But I do struggle with the idea that a video venue always means ego.

  122. It’s sure been an interesting 24 hours.
    Thanks to social media, this may well be the most widely read article I’ve ever written.
    The fact that it strikes a chord in so many different people is very interesting.

  123. Fusco,

    While I slept I think that everything in your rebuttal has been covered by someone here.
    They said it better than I could have, so unless you want further clarity on a particular point there’s not much point in repeating what’s already been well said.

  124. Daniel,
    Let me ask – what is the purpose of the video part? In a plant is it because no one else has been raised up to be the preacher, no one else called by God to teach, or, as I think most of us suspect, the videoed mega preacher would be a better draw?

  125. How about my #5?
    Explain your quotes for me

    Are those statements true?

  126. MLD –
    So for us, we are open to any delivery system for the word of God. We don’t value one more than another.

    So for our 9 am chapel it is a video
    For our 11:15am chapel it is live taught by a pastor but in Spanish

    Since I have been at Crossroads, we sent out a pastor to plant a church

    So for us, we are open
    If we do multi-sites, they will be hybrids
    Some may be video, some may be live taught, some may be autonomous church plants, and we have also had some churches approach us about potential church merges.

    It really just depends on the gifts/talents and callings of the people involved.
    Right now, in our pipeline there are 2 guys. One guy will definitely live teach. The other guy definitely won’t. For the guy who won’t, we either need to partner him with a teacher (as he is a classic pastor) or do a video.

  127. Fusco,

    The only modification I would make to those quotes would be if they are taken as a general condemnation of all “megachurches”.
    The last time I checked a mega church is defined as any church with a membership of over 2000.
    I know quite a few pastors of churches that size who are shepherds first and performers secondarily…and they put a lot of effort onto creating opportunities for real fellowship and maintain a close relationship with as many individuals as they can.
    The rest of my comments I will stand by as a general observation of this mindset with allowance for exceptions.

  128. Ok
    so just to confirm

    1) People who attend video venues are shallow
    2) Pastors who plant video venues think faithful local pastors are failures

  129. 1) People who attend video venues are shallow
    2) Pastors who plant video venues think faithful local pastors are failures

    I don’t think Michael posted either of these as absolutes, (pretty obvious really), but I would answer:

    1.) They absolutely can be.
    2.) I know it to be true of some.

  130. Daniel,
    Your reply at #129 I accept. Don’t ask me why, perhaps it’s my old age, but I would trust you in such a set up.

    btw – do you know David Jacquet at your church – big, old guy with a big beard? – I think he does some music and works with the children’s ministry.

  131. Fusco,

    The video venue implies that there was no one able to teach the word in the local assembly and a celebrity was need to required to instruct them properly. That’s a crock…and if a celebrity pastor is the draw, yes, that’s shallow.
    Pastors who plant video venues obviously believe they are superior to the local pastor because they believe that their video is more compelling than the live presentation currently happening and there is a “need” because the local churches don’t have the numbers.
    It’s arrogant, it’s wrong,it’s ecclesiastical imperialism, and I loathe the whole concept.

  132. MLD – I sure do know Dave Jacquet – Love that guy. He is wicked funny – both his wife and son are parts of our staff as well. Such good people and I seriously love David’s witt

    Michael – OK

    So then what about using videos on your own, already existing campus? Is it only planting in a town or is a video simply an unacceptable form of Word delivery? I’m sincerely interested not only in your thoughts but the reasoning why.

    Like if a church has maxed out it’s space on a Saturday night and Sunday morning and they decide to open a Sunday night in their room, with a video of the Sunday AM message.

    Or like Larry Osbourne on their main campus where there are 5-7 worship enviorments but he is live in one, and videoed into others. Leave the non main campus sites on the side for now.

    Is that still arrogant, wrong, imperialistic and loathesome to you.

  133. Just read an article that has some relevance to the discussion here>

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/september/why-we-need-small-towns.html?paging=off

    The author asserts there is a dearth of churches, most especially churches with orthodox (small o) teaching in many rural small towns across America. According to the author, there is little interest in planting churches or sustaining the churches already there in areas like these.

  134. Fusco, to be clear in your #135 – the hypothetical video is being played because of space restrictions, right? Not like a consumerist, “here’s our modern room, here’s our traditional room, here’s our polka room…” You are talking more like an overfflow room with a video monitor? Right?

  135. Fusco,

    No, if it’s on your own campus that’s a separate situation and not to be conflated with going into another community.

  136. Daniel,
    David worked for me for about 5 -7 yrs 25 yrs ago. I love the guy too. Tell him Gene from his Banning days says hi. 🙂

    It’s funny, back in the day Dave and his wife were Lutherans and I was the evangelical.

  137. Kevin H,

    That is a great article…excellent.
    Thank you!

  138. MLD = that is funny. How things change!

    MIchael = a few last questions?
    so video is an acceptable vehicle for sermon delivery system?
    what about someone doing another venue with video in their community?
    Does it become imperialism (in your view) when it leaves one central location or one central town or one central region? Where is your line?

    Josh –
    In Osborne’s case it all began with a desire to not make sitting in the overflow room a punishment. It has evolved into what you would consider consumeristic, I would call it preferential. They have grunge rooms, traditional room, quiet rooms, and even a room with no worship for folks who want to just hear the word. Every one gathers together in the common campus areas, break into different rooms for the worship gathering portion and then reintegrate.

    Do you think that is unacceptable?

  139. 5-7 worship enviorments <<<<

    What????

    It's Burger King. Have it your way.

    Who are we worshiping, anyway? The King of the Universe or our own music tastes?

  140. Do you think that is unacceptable?<<<

    Yes.

  141. “Unacceptable” is an absolute term, which I am not qualified to make. I certainly don’t think it is ideal. It seems to be very short-sited, feeding fleshly desires and reinforcing personal preferences, rather than encouraging death to self.

  142. Megachurches make me feel like yesterday’s news.

    Was looking for a church. Found Blue Sky (a Vine Church plant) and Timberlake (“Serious Faith, Casual Atmosphere and No Weird Stuff”). Mega in spirit if not in size.

    They both had the hip web site, the slick welcome video, etc. Happening places. Where everyone is 35 yrs old, and presumably there is a place for senior saints, too.

    I love it. More power to them. I may online reserve a spot at the Men’s Breakfast ($15? Well, OK.).

    But it does leave me feeling like the Old Hippie (“not tryin’ to change nobody, just tryin’ real hard to adjust”).

  143. This has been an interesting thread. Its good to hear from Daniel again. He was a faithful participant at PP back in his East Coast days. Now he’s serving at a place where I almost ended up (at least in my mind) a few years ago. I really appreciate Bill Ritchie and Ralph Cassel! Because of that, I believe in the integrity of what is being done at Crossroads.

    Having said that, my personal opinion would agree with Michael and what others have expressed. There is too much personality driven ministry today. While some is not intentional, some, IMO, is very much driven by power hungry individuals who love the limelight and better yet the money that comes with it.

    From my standpoint it seems as though pastors only want to be teachers. It used to be serving as a pastor required involvement in the lives of people. Now many run from that, preferring to hide in their office. IMO, video venues make it easier for that type of pastor to exist. I have been away from pastoral ministry for 20+ years. I told someone the other day that I believe the role of pastoral ministry has changed significantly for what is was 20 years ago. I don’t know if its the pastors fault of the people’s.

  144. Xenia –

    Do you feel that the only acceptable what to worship the King of the Universe is based on the Orthodox tradition?

    Should we only worship in a specific language?
    With a specific set of instruments?
    A specific culturally specific liturgy that is universal?

    Every church is contextual for someone or something
    You meet with the Lord in the orthodox setting.
    Others in a low church
    Others in houses
    Others with Rock bands
    Others with chanting
    Others with quiet music
    Others with no music
    Others with lead pastors
    Others with a team of teachers
    Others with no teachers

    Folks in Africa worship differently than those in Guatemala which is different from everywhere else

    People go to chuches because they meet God there

  145. Per the video question:

    When I was in the states one time, I attended a Wed. night Bible study. The sanctuary probably seated 500-600, but there were about 150-200 people in attendance. Anyone who had “weak vision” could have sat in the first or 2nd row, with no problem.
    I could not believe that there were 2 jumbo screens on either side of the stage. They not only had the lyrics to the songs, which seemed reasonable, but when the pastor came on stage,during his entire message he was HUGE on both of those screens. Maybe it is a “cultural” thing, but it gave me a giggle. Seemed a bit silly to me. I don’t get it.

  146. Bob,

    “From my standpoint it seems as though pastors only want to be teachers. It used to be serving as a pastor required involvement in the lives of people.”
    It’s teaching that makes you famous…ergo…

  147. Fusco,

    The line for me is when you leave your own campus.
    Unfortunately, I’m not the church police… 🙂

  148. Do you feel that the only acceptable what to worship the King of the Universe is based on the Orthodox tradition?<<<

    Well I certainly think it is the most God-pleasing tradition but I recognize that there are God-pleasing churches outside Orthodoxy.

    But here is what you are completely missing. You are missing the fact that your kind of church is stealing the youth and vitality from older local churches. Church planters swoop into town, do a demographic survey and make the utterly pompous declaration that "this area is being under served" (ignoring all the churches already in existence) and you set up a "new work," calling it a "church plant" and you woo and beguile all the younger people away from their family churches with rock bands, light shows, edgy preaching, coffee shops, and who knows what all, decimating the little local churches and not giving a damn about that fact.

    Yes, this makes me mad.

    The summer of my discontent 12 years ago, when I was leaving the CC world but didn't know what was next for me, I visited a representative church of all the denominations in the area and they were all the same, all mega-church wannabees with rock bands and "cool" preaching. Even the Catholic church (no rock band but they were playing pop music). The only church I visited that wasn't completely sold out to modern culture was the Orthodox Church I visited (and eventually joined) which was totally "other."

  149. Exactly Michael….A teacher is not necessarily a Pastor. A lot of men out there call themselves pastors but are merely teachers/celebrities/businessmen. I personally know of some true pastors that have big churches…they are giving themselves away for the gospel. They know their people, love them, and visit them. I am not saying a large congregation cannot be pastored, but that is a huge difference from a guy on a video screen talking at people every week.

  150. @149 – It becomes a question then of Ephesians 4:11 – is pastor/teacher one gift or two?

    I agree with MIchael in mid 20th – 21st century western CHristianity teaching can make a person famous. What if we called those guys teachers instead of pastors. Would that be better?

    @150 – okay, I really need to go away now. What about a church that decides to not do a costly remodel on their building to accommodate more people adn choses to buy another building and video it? For many multisites this is the reasoning. To refit our building will cost x-million or we can rent this venue (or buy) down the road for x thousands of dollars.

    But for you, at that point, the only acceptable mode is to build a bigger box rather than go to 2 sites. Again I”m just asking where you put the line.

    I realize that you are speaking of national ministries who are moving all over the place because certain pastors have enormous popularity and platform. But for the handful of people who are doing that, there are 100s of chruches who are going multi-site with vastly different motivations. On top of that, many of the new multi-sites are not numerically large churches at all.

    Ok, all
    It’s been fun
    Sorry for the drive by

    Peace out peeps

  151. “But here is what you are completely missing. You are missing the fact that your kind of church is stealing the youth and vitality from older local churches. Church planters swoop into town, do a demographic survey and make the utterly pompous declaration that “this area is being under served” (ignoring all the churches already in existence) and you set up a “new work,” calling it a “church plant” and you woo and beguile all the younger people away from their family churches with rock bands, light shows, edgy preaching, coffee shops, and who knows what all, decimating the little local churches and not giving a damn about that fact.”

    That…was the bottom line.
    Amen and amen.

  152. Have two sites. Call the second one a church and give it its own preacher.

  153. Daniel, I might agree with you over the video church in a place where there are absolutely no other gospel believing, Bible teaching churches. But then I would wonder why a live pastor would not just move there and plant a church. Then that brings us back to the belief that the celebrity/entertainer/teacher is more important than an incarnate pastor ministering to the community.

  154. Let me thank Fusco for his participation and thank all of you for making this a great thread.
    I love this place when it works… 🙂

  155. What Michael said at #154!

  156. Thank you Daniel! God bless you.

  157. decimating the little local churches and not giving a damn about that fact.”<<<

    And you feel you have the right to do this because these churches won't partner with you.

  158. I think it is also short-sited for the long term health of their own congregations. It ties worship to a very particular place and time (and fashion). What is cool to us will be completely lame to our children. We should be teaching our children that church isn’t about cool or lame. Church should be the one thing in our Godless culture that is not about cool or lame.

  159. I agree with Xenia’s point of view completely, HOWEVER, these multi-site/video venues would not be happening if the sheep were not flocking there. As much as I don’t agree with their method, they are just like all other consumer driven commodities….people are buying them and so more are being produced.

  160. The church in which I grew up was a church plant from another local church. My family started attending when I was young and a few years after the church had been planted. I don’t know nearly all the details, but the mother church was close to maxing out its capacity and rather than expanding the building or adding more services, they decided to plant another church about 15 minutes down the road which was more local to some of the families who agreed to be a part of the planted church. I don’t even think the new church had a pastor at the very beginning, but had one soon after with the help of the mother church to find one.

    Now this was probably close to 40 years ago before there was any such thing as multi-site and video being streamed in. But I grew up in that church knowing the pastors and they made an impact on me, not just with their teaching but probably even more so with their personal interaction with me. (And it wasn’t like I was hanging out with them all the time or anything like that. But there were occassions of personal interaction from little on up which had a positive influence on my life.) If the main teaching pastor growing up would have been just a figure on a video screen, then I know I definitely would have missed out on something good growing up.

  161. Hey! I agree with Josh!

    “Church should be the one thing in our Godless culture that is not about cool or lame.”

  162. Michael @154 – I understand much of what you’ve said in your original comments and agree to a degree. But I’m just going to say this: If a mega-church can swoop into town with their multi-site model and steal sheep away from the local churches, perhaps those sheep weren’t so satisfied with those local churches or those local churches were NOT giving those sheep what they needed. If the sheep are willing to run elsewhere when something new comes to town, perhaps those sheep were being under-fed and under-connected where they were at! If they were REALLY satisfied and felt really plugged-in and a part of their local church and really felt like FAMILY there, most wouldn’t even be tempted to want to go elsewhere!! After all, why would you want to leave a place where you are getting fed, feel close to others as family, and feel genuinely connected. Very few people in that boat would want to leave. So those that do, may just have a legitimate reason for being tempted to look elsewhere. Just saying…

  163. …besides, trying to be cool is as lame as it gets.

  164. Chris Long, Hi – 🙂

    Have you never watched a commercial on TV? Their sole purpose is to make you dissatisfied with what you have. You like your car – in fact you are perfectly satisfied … until you see that new Corvette commercial.

    New and shiny is always a temptation. I am sure that God was a good pastor to Adam & Eve, until the new guy showed up in town.

  165. Chris,

    There may be times when your scenario is true.
    However, our society is trained to be discontent after a season, as MLD has pointed out.
    I have a phone that does everything I need to do very well.
    The new version of that phone is out….and though it wouldn’t make anything I do faster or more efficient, it’s a temptation.

  166. Having been involved in both traditional churches and the low “church” world…

    I think one of the issues is that if you think about it, a lot of the ecclesiology of the low church world has been a combo. of revivalism and parachurch influences. Both are very American inventions.

    I think that’s one reason why people in these churches are vulnerable to the newest and shiniest. They really don’t have roots that go back very far.

    My Lutheran church would certainly not be considered new nor shiny. We’re probably closer to Xenia’s EO church, that way. We’re very irrelevant in terms of newness and shininess.

    Yet our members are extremely loyal.

  167. The man from Mars is less than one mile from me. And yes he has successfully loosed some of my people. I simply remain silent and go on.

  168. I went back and re-read the posts. Interesting to me that fyi came in here with a desire to know what others thought about massive growth and the need to plant churches in a more tratidional way. Fusco who I don’t know other than from here and am aware that he’s making a name for himself in some circles within CC, only came here with answers and justification for what he believes. In my mind, here is the problem. A humble pastor who is willing to seek answers vs. a pastor who has all of the answers and doesn’t seem to care about what others think. It’s the lack of humility that I believe breeds the idea of the big show, big numbers and big recognition from their peers.

    Again, I do not know Fusco other than what I see here.

  169. Chris, it speaks more to our shallowness.

    What do these churches offer of heavenly value that you can’t find in a local, traditional, multi-generational church? (I am not talking about cults or abusive situations, just ordinary churches.) And if some of these small churches appear to be failures, ask yourself where all the vibrant young Christians have gone and you will need to look no further than the closest mega-church which has as many attractions as a three-ring circus.

    I remember when I used to work at the CC high school there was an effort to lure the non CC students away from their family churches and into the CC youth group. (You know, the one named “Dirt”) to which I strongly and loudly objected, asking these people why they wanted to break up a families that worshiped together. Honestly, they had no clue as to what I was talking about. Blank stares. “But our youth group is so good!”

    Imagine a situation where a kid puts up a ruckus about wanting to go to the big church with the cool youth group and won’t go anymore to his little Baptist church. The family has to either let their kid go off to church on his own, to a church the parents don’t know much about (other than that they are trying to steal their children) or they reluctantly decide the whole family will go to the Exciting Venue to preserve family unity. <— I have seen this happen over and over.

    Why are so many Americans sick and overweight? Because they prefer cupcakes to broccoli. Make your own application.

  170. I wonder if this thread will be mentioned in someone’s sermon this Sunday. I wonder if it will go like this: “There’s a group of people, people who are enamored of the traditions of men, who disapprove of what God is doing here at our church and our venues. Well I think that attitude is from the pit of Hell!” And there will be loud applause and the person will feel validated.

    May it not be so.

  171. I don’t really care how churches are planted. We live in a market culture and that is true of the religious culture. I do not care how people choose Christ as long as they do. I don’t care how people choose to do church as long as they choose Christ. I don’t care how famous someone gets preaching the Gospel as long as they preach Christ. I don’t care what people choose, they are free. I only care that Christ is preaches. People’s motives and methods are neither my business or my problem. I have enough of both to keep me busy.

    But no, I would not choose a video pastor unless I did it in the privacy of home. But then I have changed my mind and my position before. So to God be all praise.

  172. I’ve said some very critical things about Daniel…. well, not so much about him personally (I don’t know him personally) but as a representative of a trend that dismays me and I would like to say that he’s probably a wonderful fellow who is caught up in a church culture that he sincerely believes is a good way to bring people into the kingdom. I do not agree with him but I don’t question his motives or his sincerity.

  173. Yes, Xenia I have no reason to think otherwise. Again, my comment was based solely on what I read here. I also don’t know who fyi is either but the contrast in character speaks for itself.

  174. Daniel is a very humble guy .. in a flamboyant kinda way. 😉

  175. I hate brocolli.
    If i have to eat brocolli or die…I”ll choose to die.

    Make your own application.

  176. I was going to e-mail Michael and loan this book till I found that it couldn’t be loaned through Amazon for some reason. 🙁

    From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology by John Dyer.
    http://www.amazon.com/From-Garden-City-ebook/dp/B005CQ2ZE6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380230925&sr=1-1&keywords=from+the+garden+to+the+city

    I found it to be extremely important in explaining how technology was used to spread the gospel and applying a lot of sound reasoning to understanding it today.

  177. What goes around comes around…people may have left traditional churches for the mega church model, but now the mega churches are losing folks who are tired of the cool, social club and are looking for a real relationship with Jesus. They may continue to attract folks who like the “show” but those looking for a deep, mature walk are leaving in droves…check out this video series/book on “The Restless Church”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V-JQ7UUVg8&list=PL0f6_epwixV5qlZLKLx5SxZw4Roxosyb4&index=2

  178. Yikes! Someone is claiming to have planted bombs all over downtown Monterey and the police are currently (from listening to the police scanner) finding them and detonating them. My daughter who works in Monterey just called to say that her building was evacuated. I don’t know if the devices they are finding are real bombs or not. Lord have mercy.

  179. Xenia’s 172 is spot on re YG’s. Funny, the ONLY reason I left CC was because my oldest was closing in on YG age (with two sibs close behind), and there was no way I was going to toss her into that zoo. I went youth pastor shopping, and landed in a small AG.

  180. Michael @ 168, MLD @ 167: Very valid – good points. At the same time, I still think there’s a validity to the point on the other side too. I know when I was involved at a small baptist church I was a part of and really felt connected there and like family, you couldn’t have paid me to leave to go to a megachurch, no matter how new and flashy. In fact, when I left that church it was very hard for me and only because I felt God clearly calling me elsewhere. These days, I do attend a megachurch, and I’ve been blessed there too (in a different sort of way). I’ve found there are clear positives and negatives to both small and large, and that each fits different people at different points on their journey. For the record, the whole multi-site video thing has always bothered me too. I understand where Fusco is coming from regarding the medium and that the entire church experience isn’t about the teaching, but if you’ve got such great growth that you feel you need to go multi-site, then why not just get a teaching pastor for that site. That’s what my megachurch has done. There’s 5 sites, and each one has their own teaching pastor. During the week all the pastors get together and brainstorm/talk about what to teach on, but then each pastor at each site does the teaching for that site. This seems a much better model to me than putting up a video of one guy at the various sites – so impersonal. Plus, when it’s a video, it just plays into the “celebrity pastor”/”we’re all about just building our little mini kingdom centered around our star” accusation, even if not warranted (though in many cases, it might very well be…) BTW, MLD – Thanks for the welcome. I’ve been here before but it’s been a few years since I’ve posted. I typically just lurk about. 🙂

  181. It’s funny. The Lord taught me the gospel through the pages of Scripture when I had no church or Christian friends, just reading the Bible as a natural man for several months. Was going to a New Age feel-good cult that offered nothing for or against the Bible of consequence – but stamped God onto a motivational speech. So it was a long slog.

    Having been born again, leaving the cult, and after two local denominational attempts where nary a word of Scripture was uttered, He landed me at some place I had never heard of – Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, because I stumbled upon Chuck’s radio program when I was looking for a good rock station and Costa Mesa. was “only” 40 minutes away.

    Once I got over the shock that these people seemed to actually care about the Bible and Jesus as much as I was at the time, and the embarrassment of not having brought my Bible (since I never seemed to need it before), I planted there for a few weeks until I learned there were other Calvary Chapels, including one in my hometown.

    So I started going to that smaller (but still 150-200 people probably) local church each week. (And I had not even read this blog yet!! 🙂 )

    Made an appointment to introduce myself to the pastor and initiate friendship. Seemed at the time like a good guy who loved the Lord. The people all seemed to love the Lord. They were doing some things in the community..

    One problem. The teaching, which I craved was sub-par. Tepid weak and even inaccurate on occasion from my limited understanding. Wife felt the same way. At this point in my life I read the New Testament every month and the Old Testament every 3 months – just over and over and over, while also starting to get into commentaries and other Christian writings

    So after about two months, we started making the drive to Costa Mesa again. Didn’t leave again until my first (and only) church start-up eight years later.

    In 180+ posts in this thread, one point was not mentioned. I know it is a point of less relevance to those in churches like Xenia or MLD, but is relevant in churches (CC or otherwise) where expository Bible teaching is a major part of the service, it is a fact that some minister the word to some Christians more effectively than others do. I don’t care if you call it gifting, if they study more, were better schooled, are better public speakers…whatever. Somehow the Holy Spirit uses those men to minister the Word in a way that changes the specific people who come to hear it, more than the Holy Spirit uses the man down the street in that particular Christian’s life.

    I was not seeking a celebrity. Chuck was not a celebrity in my knowledge. I certainly was not being shallow in fact quite the contrary. It was hardly entertainment seeking either (if you ever watched Chuck preach. 🙂 ).

    I was simply being led by the Lord – for the Lord leads His sheep – just like the Lord led a lot of His sheep here on this thread out of certain churches too – like Xenia and MLD (and many others).

    Just my two cents. Seems like a point missing in the discussion.

  182. Steve,
    I have a question. Would CCLE have been just as well served or perhaps better off if they had chosen to pipe in Greg Laurie on the Jumbotron vs calling you to be their pastor? (I for one do not think so.)

    You made a pretty good case for all CCs telecasting old Chuck sermons every week. He probably has a 10-20 year archive of Sun am – Sun pm – and Wed pm

  183. MLD, I did not say one word about video-churches. But this thread had more in it than just that issue and to those comments I think my personal testimony had relevance.

  184. Steve,
    I know, but you mentioned to things that I think are quickly remedied by piping in The Best of Chuck teachings.

    You said; “The teaching, which I craved was sub-par. Tepid weak and even inaccurate on occasion…”

    and ” it is a fact that some minister the word to some Christians more effectively than others do. I don’t care if you call it gifting, if they study more, were better schooled, are better public speakers…whatever. Somehow the Holy Spirit uses those men to minister the Word in a way that changes the specific people who come to hear it, more than the Holy Spirit uses the man down the street in that particular Christian’s life.”

    Find the best and video him in. 🙂

  185. I don’t know if CCCM really fits in with what we are talking about. For starters, it wasn’t a church plant. If I remember the story correctly, Pastor Chuck was called to pastor CCCM when it only had a handful of people and it just grew. I’ve been there, CCCM is not especially glitzy and Pastor Chuck is a rather straight-forward preacher.

    In other words, Pastor Chuck didn’t swoop into town and roll over pre-existing churches. He was called to a small, local church and it just grew. I don’t mind if churches grow 🙂 .

  186. it is a fact that some minister the word to some Christians more effectively than others do
    ——————————————————
    MLD, As to my quote above you cite, part of “ministering the word EFFECTIVELY” involves being there in person – at least to me (and no doubt many others, but obviously not all).

    In fact, for ME it meant sitting near the front (and getting there early enough to do so). On rare occasion when I had to sit near the back, I felt far less connected to that message. I personally would never have just watched video of Chuck – though many others did in the overflow areas, which by the way many do at CCLE by choice today.

    Like I said, this is about people being different, and God ministering in different ways, through different people, to those different people.

    I’ll give you another example that we speak of at CCLE. The back row of our sanctuary is closer to me when I preach than the front row of some large churches is to the pastor. In fact, my spit has landed more than once on someone sitting in the front row. That’s how small our sanctuary is.

    As a result, when I preach, I can (and do try) to literally look people in the eye, wherever they may be sitting during the course of the message. I can make direct eye contact easily with the very back row.

    I have no doubt if I spoke in a large room that the effect of the message would be lessened to many who otherwise are edified in our small house. At the same time, it would not matter to others, and frankly some others might even welcome the different venue.

  187. I don’t mind if churches grow
    ———————————-
    But Xenia – part of that growth was people like me driving over an hour and a half round-trip. After departing my local community church that otherwise had the same basic beliefs.

    I thought you have expressed your dissatisfaction in such cases. Going to the mega church instead of sticking around the small local church and making it better.

    Forgive me if I am incorrect as to your view on that.

  188. I was defending Pastor Chuck, not you.

    🙂

  189. Awesome reply, Xenia. 🙂

  190. For about six years, my husband and I traveled an hour each way to attend a fantastic Orthodox parish in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Glorious choir, large congregation, all in English and many other wonderful things. But it just wasn’t worth it. We now go to a small parish here in town. Smaller choir, smaller congregation, half the time in a crazy language I don’t understand, wonderful people (the other parish has wonderful people, too) but I can be part of the community in a way I could never be at the distant parish. When someone needs help, my husband I are right there to lend a hand. We are part of a real, thriving community.

    I would never recommend that someone drive to a far distant church to hear a preacher. I would recommend they find a local church they can tolerate and be a blessing to them.

  191. And if you gotta hear a famous preacher, I am sure he has a podcast!

  192. But you know, it’s a free country, for a while more, at least. People will go where they think they will benefit the most. Who am I to criticize someone’s choice of church? (Kind of late for me to being saying that!)

  193. I would never recommend that someone drive to a far distant church to hear a preacher. I would recommend they find a local church they can tolerate and be a blessing to them.
    ————————————————————
    Well, to be clear – one can certainly be a blessing at a mega church far away too. For example, being the guy who led the Sunday services for the Alzheimer home on behalf of the church for almost six years.

    In fact, the larger the church, the more opportunities for ministry to the outside world tend to exist.

  194. People will go where they think they will benefit the most.
    ——————————————————
    I like to think the Lord leads His sheep. 😉

  195. The man from Mars is less than one mile from me. And yes he has successfully loosed some of my people. I simply remain silent and go on.
    —————————————————————————-
    A charismatic evangelical celebrity pastor began a new church in our town earlier in the year. Financed live radio, advertising, celebrity endorsements, right from the start. .

    I have been personally told that his presence means the end of our fellowship – likely within months. That prediction has been told to others as well.

    No visible sign of this happening as of yet, and of course opinion is not exactly a prophetic word from the Lord.

    We go on. We are the type of church we are and I am the type of pastor I am. I typically tell new visitors that whatever they experienced that Sunday is what they will experience every Sunday, just with a different song lineup and a different passage of Scripture – pretty constant.

    The people are God’s – not the pastor’s. God will lead His sheep, and sometimes God may lead His sheep for a season to a different pasture to bring them back again. Then again, sometimes the sheep are insensitive to the Shepherd’s inner voice. But no past experiences will be wasted and the Lord uses it all.

    If the people leave because of the church or its pastor – that is a problem.

    If the people leave because of a new alternative, that is not a problem….for the church at least.

    In my opinion….

  196. “MLD, As to my quote above you cite, part of “ministering the word EFFECTIVELY” involves being there in person – at least to me (and no doubt many others, but obviously not all).”

    There you said it well – video churches are a bad idea if your purpose is to minister the word effectively. I like the way you said it.

    Now we need to let people who attend video churches know that they are not being ministered to effectively. Probably entertained effectively – but not ministered to.;-)

  197. I’m coming very late to thsi party. But I think the broad based generalizations are way over the top! One thing that is missing in this discussion. When CC plants a church- they go to an area that does not have a CC. They really arent concerned if there is a Baptist or Lutheran or Orhthodox church in the area- they are not planting one of those denoms- they are planting a CC. Just the same way a Baptist church would plant in an area with no Baptist church. Or an Orthodox- etc. Xenia and others have complained about the style of worship – the “cool” clothes and website – the use of video, etc. Hey- to each his own. I sat in an Orthodox church for many years and heard the same liturgy repeated over and over 365 days a year. It was dead and unfulfilling- to me. It may be what others find fulfilling. I won’t judge them- they should not judge me. I guarantee you the vast majority of pastors are not looking to “swoop down” on the local scene and “steal sheep”- that is just not happening and it is disingenuous to claim that it is. What is happening is that CC, for example, is identifiying an area that is not served by a CC and planting a church with the CC style- verse by verse teaching- contemporary worship- CC Distintives – etc. People who wan tthat type of church will come to that type of church.

    As far as the video outlets go- I’m not a big fan. But my daughter attends one in the Naples- FL area and she loves it. She has a local body- youth pastors- ministry pastors- local worship- the entire range of services that any other church would have. The only difference is that for 60 minutes as part of a Sunday morning service- the teaching is presented by Bob Coy from a remote location.

  198. “Baptist church would plant in an area with no Baptist church”
    I have to say, to our discredit, Baptists will plant next door to a baptist church.

    “pastors are not looking to “swoop down” on the local scene and “steal sheep”- that is just not happening and it is disingenuous to claim that it is.”
    If I linked to Perry Noble’s defense of video campuses, in which he states that the only reason the local pastors don’t like it is because they are sissies who are afraid of the competition, would you believe me then?

  199. MLD stated:

    Now we need to let people who attend video churches know that they are not being ministered to effectively. Probably entertained effectively – but not ministered to.;-)

    C’mon- you are making the generalization that a live teaching is the only effective way to minister the Word? As I stated above these so-called “video churches” have prayer ministry, healing ministry, benevolence ministry, addiction ministry, childrens ministry, home group ministry, food pantry ministry, missions ministry, sports ministry, etc. etc. The only difference between a “video church” and your church is that for an hour or so the folks watch a video teaching instead of a live teaching. If folks have questions after the service- there is a pastor on site to address them.

    I know Michael has touched a nerve by writing provocatively about the “big bad mega church” but its interesting that his post opened with the old urban myth about the big bad Walmart “swooping down” and trying to put the mom and pop pharmacy out of business. Really??? Walmart is the world largest private employer providing millions of jobs and offering one stop shopping for a vast variety of competitively priced products. I know alot of you want to harken back to the “good ole Mayberry” days of local mom and pop businesses but grow up people- this is the 21st century! Americans want good stuff cheap and they want it all in one place. Retail is not the business model for small business in the 21st century- its all about creativity – software applications – time saving ideas- big data analysis- mobile businesses, etc.

    Bottom line – our society has changed- as noted in this thread we have a much shorter attention span- we embrace change- we relish the next “new” thing. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever- but the Way we experience Him- the methods used to “deliver” Him- the venues where He is present- must keep pace with the culture.

  200. Whew! Just read through the thread and wondered to myself about why we drive just over thirty minutes to be part of our fellowship. I mean…we love our fellowship, and now we know so many more reasons why we are involved, but what drew us those first few days.

    We actually live in a pretty small town just on the outskirts of Nashville. There are, if I just think briefly, 17 churches within easy reach before we drive to the interstate to go to our fellowship.If you take out the United Methodist and others we would have theological issues with the count probably goes down to about 10 we would be okay with theologically. Of those, we visited 5 and attended one for 3 years before we ended up where we are now. We didn’t plant there because, well the music was so loud we literally sang at the top of our lungs and couldn’t hear each other…in a room of about 150. Or the preacher yelled at us, literally. Or other things which we just couldn’t quite settle with weekly.

    There were fairly deep issues for why left the church we were part of for 3 years.

    What drew us to this fellowship, 30 minutes away, was the reputation of its community involvement, its children’s ministry, its simplicity in worship (which, honestly is probably a uniquely huge issue in “Music CIty”…everyone is showcasing) and finally the preacher. We love Jim, but he was not the first on the list. We loved that he taught through books and not topically, but the reputation was of the church as a whole, and the reputation was of a fellowship that was vibrant and simple.

    Now we are in the dilemma of growing, and honestly feeling really awkward. I’m not sure how it will completely play out, but I know that we will have a mix of video…and probably of Jim going to the other start up campuses. That kinda makes me happy…that he doesn’t mind leaving the “big” campus and going to the other campuses and starting over. We’ve got some pretty capable teachers in our congregation and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out over the coming years. The one thing I do know is that they are thinking and praying and taking their time. They are listening a bit to how others are doing things…but they are paying more attention to the community and they are doing things the way they have for the last 10 years. Slowly and simply. Love that. So, although I am not a fan of the video service, I know it is in our future in some manifestation…and I trust that it will be done with wisdom. I may not agree with it completely, and I’ll voice my concerns, but I’ll trust this leadership in their wisdom as they’ve been pretty solid thus far…

    Just thought I’d throw that in.

  201. Mark,
    I agree with you about a CC planting where there is no CC to serve in CC style. Lutherans do the same – we find an area with a lack of Lutheran presence, but we know there are Lutheran people, and plant a church. I see no problem with that at all.

    The multi site and video to me was the problem. Hey why beat around the bush – the multi site and video is all ego – I will say it loud ALL EGO.

    In your daughter’s situation Bob Coy wants to be seen on a screen near you AND he has a head so big that he is saying “no one can teach like me.”

    I said it earlier. A verse by verse Bible study (1) is not preaching and (2) it IS a lecture and it does not matter if it is live or on a video screen. Does anyone at the university care if they sit in their chemistry class and watch the instruction on a video? No!

  202. “When CC plants a church- they go to an area that does not have a CC.”

    Mark, you have to be kidding! I know of several occasions where this has not been the case!

  203. Folks are free to franchise their business brand however they want. It’s a semi-free country.

    I think the dynamic and discussion is an indictment on the fact there is no “church” as we see it expressed and exampled in the bible.

    The ‘church’ today is much more akin to a very loosely held belief in some sort of Christian* type god than a real entity whose goal is for the good of some sort of Kingdom.

  204. Mark said, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever-”

    No, not really, not in terms of what even your very new sect teaches and examples. Jeuss has changed quite a bit compared to other much older and more established denominations of Christian orthodoxy.

    Mark said, ” but the Way we experience Him- the methods used to “deliver” Him- the venues where He is present- must keep pace with the culture.”

    Well, yes, “cultural context” and Relativism and Liberalism…which is what I believe is much more true than a literal/fundamentalist/absolutist approach. If CC’s had been in the South during the slave days, I imagine they would have taught the letter of the levitical law that it was permitted to own slaves. That truth has changed and even thought the bible says it’s OK in the Old Testament, even CC considers it sin and evil today (I think most would agree with that I hope).

  205. Hi Bob Sweat!! Now you I would watch on video all day long. 🙂

  206. Sarah. Interesting situation that you describe. Are “community” involvement and “simplicity of fellowship” stated values of this church? Are they explicitly defined in the mission statement of the church? If so, how does this church leadership plan to preserve this aspect of the existing church and how are the planning to build this into the actionable DNA of the new fellowships?

    Have they identified potential pitfalls? If so, what contingency plans to address this? How will they develop the spiritual character of future attenders in order for this stated  or unstated mission to have actual people who are capable of carryingout this mission? 

     Quite frankly (imo) a lot of this multi- site , multiple campus models are built on the assumptions of passive people who live vicariously through the brand and the cash flow that accompanies these people.

    Praying for wisdom for you and your husband.You are like a modern day Priscilla and Aquila and need to be connected with leaders who have integrity and a care for God’s people  rooted in the fear of Lord and who also have the missional character of an Apostle Paul who can develop and sustain a team of his spiritual peers to serve together.

  207. Bob- that is the general rule for the hundreds and hundreds of CCs that are planted. There may be a few exceptions- but there is always an effort to review the closest CC and establish a mileage radius for new plants to observe.

  208. MLD @ 206 – You bet, on high definition to boot!

    Mark – I know its the general rule, but that rule has been broken with more than a few exceptions. Ay least in California.

  209. Mark:

    What you don’t understand about MLD’s version of church is this, it isn’t about the teaching.

    At CC they see themselves as a place where people can come and hear the wisdom of their personal bible teaching. In the mix they, CCs, offer music, some fellowship, counseling and “pot lucks” while a Lutheran church has these items it is not the core reason for gathering.

    A Lutheran church gathers to have communion (huge BTW), prayer and worship as the primary reasons with the sermon as a secondary reason. Additionally the sermon may be a teaching device but it is not the primary purpose.

    I’m sure I left a few things out, but to understand the differences between MLD and CC you have to know from what view he is writing.

    PS, I am neither a Lutheran nor a CC proponent, but understanding the differences helps the conversation.

  210. Mark,

    That was no urban myth.
    That was and is the pharmacy in Talent ,Oregon.
    I hate the WalMart business model, but that’s an entirely different conversation.
    The “general rule” for CC church planting has been broken so often (at least on the West coast) that I already had CC pastors write and ask where you’re located that this rule is actually followed.

  211. Bob,
    You have it pretty close – the hymns, the prayers, the confession & absolution, the little parts of the liturgy, the reading, the sermon, the confessions of the creeds, the offering etc, all lead up to the Lord’s Supper.

  212. The readings are interesting. There are usually 3 or 4 readings – OT, Epistle; Gospel and sometimes a Psalm. They are read and just left out there with no commentary – letting the Holy Spirit do his work with no verbal prompting. In the end this allows for a short homily.

    CC type churches have a hard time just reading scripture and letting it hang out there without comment. But is comment needed … even Pastor Steve said that he was saved just by reading.

    So why does Bob Coy speak for 60 min – what the heck does he have to say that is so important. (as a disclaimer, I have only hear him a couple of times on the radio.)

  213. An existing CC not very far from here planted two churches. They are about 2 miles from each other and within five 2-5 miles max from an existing CC. If I expanded out to ten miles I’m sure there are easily a few more CC’s within that distance.

  214. I don’t mind churches being close. Parishes are no be neighborhood churches. Perhaps in the old days that meant within walking distance.
    I drive about 7 miles to church – but that is the closest LCMS to my home. it seems dumb to drive by one church to go to the same church further away.

  215. What a fascinating topic. I will fall on the side of disagreeing with Michael. Yes there are guys faithfully teaching in a place for 30 years, never going above 30 people in attendance. And two miles away, a screen shows up and 2000 people are there within 5 years. Why?

    Maybe the longtime teacher just is not that good. Maybe he is too stubborn to ask the Lord why it is not growing. Maybe he does not want it to grow. Could be many things.

    I always found the “stealing sheep” accusation to be dumb. They are either the Lord’s sheep, or they are goats anyway, but in either case, they do not belong to any man. If they do not like the way one guy teaches, and many also do not like it, then that is possibly why this is happening. We live in a culture of marketing, but God is higher than all that.

    Nobody here or anyone you know, will ever have a bigger audience than Joel Osteen. Between 40000 in person and millions on TV EVERY DAY, he has no peer. And I cannot understand why. I would rather eat sand than listen to anything he says. But I am obviously in the minority on that.

  216. MLD

    I am somewhat sympathetic with the Lutheran purpose behind the liturgy because it seems, at least to me, much of our Christian church experience today really is pretty hollow. But I also meet too many people, on both sides of the conversation, who really just attend church to fill their need to sacrifice something and get God’s attention. Looking closely it I believe this is no different than the idol worship spoken of in the scriptures.

    Why would someone even bother to sacrifice anything of their life except to get something in return? At one time it was the idea of better crops and maybe today it’s so they will “escape hell?” I can’t read people’s minds or hearts but to me the whole idea is a life walking with the one who created it not running from some punishment.

    What’s my take then on gathering? The whole purpose of hearing and learning the story of the scriptures is to come to know God and the Son, Jesus. It is said over and over again, “if you love me…” and yet He loved His creation first, something which really seems a bit strange. However my answer to the question of the purpose of gathering together then is to learn about the walk and fellowship with Him both as a community and as an individual.

    Basically I like the intent of the Lutheran liturgy, maybe even more than that of CC (they appear to me to be more about the pastor than the people, that Moses thing), but in the end fellowship and walking with God is an internal thing and is only helped not forced by organizations.

    PS. I really dislike the TV church thing. Back kin the 80s it was the satellite beamed conferences which were big.

  217. There’s a CC on every corner it seems in the Boise Valley, but each is pretty much an offshoot of Bob Caldwell in some fashion. Caldwell’s kind of the patriarch and nice big-guy who seems to give his blessing on where Franchises are allowed to open up…at least that’s what it looks like here in Boise, Idaho.

  218. Bob,
    People go to church for all kinds of self serving reasons – even Lutherans. But from the Lutheran point of view the true reason to go is to receive the good, grace filled gifts God is distributing.

  219. @220 Ricky Bobby: Pardon my ignorance, but I’ve been out of the loop a bit on reading PP – are you Alex? I was thinking so based on content you wrote in some other threads (sounded very “Alex-like”) and now mentioning Idaho. If so, why change the nick?

  220. even Pastor Steve said that he was saved just by reading.
    —————————————————–
    Actually, I left out the three Christian books that put me over the top. Max Lucado, Greg Laurie (imagine my shock when I saw he preached at CCCM on Mondays) and Bill Bright (before I ever knew of anything called Campus Crusade). I knew nothing about any of these three guys.

    The Lord prepared my heart for months and months with just his Word (again, no church or Christian friends) and then, I discovered a Christian book store and these three books.

    Lucado’s was Six Hours One Friday – Helped me understand better the Deity of Christ and what took place at the cross.

    Greg’s was Five Minutes with Jesus – Helped me see Christianity was about relationship with Jesus

    I don’t remember Brights but it was a small booklet expressing need to personally receive Christ. His usual evangelistic fare.

    God picked three pretty good books (and men) to place in my hands at just the right time – to teach me,

    So not JUST the Bible at all. But certainly no church or “live” relationships.

  221. MLD

    No disagreement there.

    In a world full of issues I see one thing growing amongst many is the whole idea did Jesus really rise from the dead? I hear most saying Jesus was a real historical man and they even believe he was a model of perfect behavior, prophet, anti-religion and all sorts of “good” things, but not risen from the dead.

    It’s too bad that this one item is becoming universally accepted because without a “live” breathing Jesus all of our attempts to fellow ship with the Creator of all things are just rubbish. Even Paul state “we should be pitied…” if this isn’t true.

    Personally I believe if there isn’t a living Jesus then church, in all its forms, is just an exercise of self anyway and I then would rather be somewhere else. So why go if a person really doesn’t believe it anyway? One can’t hedge their bets.

    Got to go and again I would rather have 10 small CCs (or another denom) than one mega in town.

  222. Steve,
    A book I read probably 5 yrs before I was saved and ever picked up a Bible was Robert Schuller’s Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking. I think this book softened me up some without my knowledge.

    I got it out of my company’s library as a motivational book. God works mysteriously. 🙂

  223. MLD,

    Around this time I was constantly listening to business and motivational stuff from the Nightingale Company. Brian Tracy had excellent salesmen material, but looking back it is interesting how some of that stuff is pseudo-religious, like Napoleon Hill’s stuff.

    I remember I had a set of tapes from Schuller too. Amazing that I could live in America for 25 years and know so little about anything – but I had no clue what the Crystal Cathedral was or really that he was a pastor. He was just another guy on tape.

    Speaking of ignorance – I remember when my neighbor excitedly told me about going to the Harvest Crusade with her son, even encouraging me to go. I not only did not know what the Harvest Crusade was, I did not even know what ANY Crusade was – Billy Graham or otherwise. I declined.

  224. How could you come from an Oklahoma family and be so Christian ignorant?

    At least I was Jewish and stupid. 🙂

    Schuller’s book actually was quite Christian – but I was amazed to read in the book that his faith drove him to do the works he did. I never knew of anyone who took faith seriously. He came here in 1956 and wrote the book in 1967. When he came out he was a conservative Dutch Reform. Hey, California does that to people.

  225. Mark wrote @ # 202,

    I know alot of you want to harken back to the “good ole Mayberry” days of local mom and pop businesses but grow up people- this is the 21st century! Americans want good stuff cheap and they want it all in one place.

    How sadly true, and it will be our undoing as a nation one day because it is unsustainable.

    True anecdote:
    In my own town there is a large mega-church complex complete with concert hall for big name preachers and big name Christian music groups. Just down the street there is a super Walmart. I don’t think it’s sheer coincidence that a large number of the high-end rides in and out of both massive parking lots bear the NOTW (not of this world) decal logos on their rear windows. If it were not so ludicrous it would almost be funny.

    I think Ricky Bobby @ # 207 alludes to a pressing question: If the Church’s existence is not to build a better world, what is it good for?

  226. MLD – When I was a freshman on the baseball team at OU a Christian who was a Senior invited me to a meeting with Fellowship of Christian Athletes – I really did not know what that was at the time, but I had a hunch he was not inviting me to a keg party so I declined. I found him on facebook. He is a pastor now.

    I had some good friends there who would let their Catholic guilt force them to Mass every 6-8 weeks – the rest of the time they partied with me. Other Catholics who did not even go that often. There were other non-Catholic Christians who just backslided and joined in – Then there were a few Christians who I admired that walked the walk but I was not close friends with them because they didn’t chase the same things that I and the majority of the school were chasing. I saw them more as moral not knowing their faith influenced their character.

    If anyone ever shared the gospel in those four years, I do not recall a word of it. Maybe some did..who knows?

    As to my upbringing – I was raised in So Cal by good parents who came from Oklahoma but pretty much left Jesus at the border somewhere on route 66.

  227. Most churches start well, or at least begin with good intentions. What happens is the subtle seduction creeps in a we develop a taste for the unnecessary. Luxuries cannot be sustained without the advent of imperialism. Unfortunately, most pastors and parishioners can’t see it and the place their own inconsistency on the pile of irreconcilable principles of following the One who had no place to lay His head. But after all, we cover the leanness of our own souls and congratulate ourselves because “the gospel is going out”.

  228. Victorious…I hope you’ll see this. I apologize my post looks a bit like a drive-by, but I am just so sporadic online these days.

    We are somewhat explicit in stating the intention. Our mission statement of the church does state the community involvement: (this is one short line from the bulletin) “We believe our worship of God should be sacrificial. Therefore, we intend to give of our time, talents, money, and other resources that God may be glorified and others will be helped and come to know His great love.”

    If you want to know what our community involvement looks like practically, it plays out in a couple ways. Internally we provide about 350+ meals to people within the congregation (mostly those who are dealing with cancer treatments and other sicknesses and those who just had babies, or some who just are dealing with tough times), we have a team that is on call to go and sit with those who are in the hospital…anyone can request a visit beyond the normal pastoral visits that happen (this team is made up of volunteers from our prayer ministry team..a team that prays with folks after the services. Anyone can volunteer, but they have to be approved by the leadership). Of course there are all the usual opportunities to service in the children’s ministry, etc.

    There is weekly emphasis given on a specific “mission”, although our congregation itself does not have a mission department, per se…instead we partner with local organizations who are doing works we can jump in and help. We have about 22 organizations we are partnered with. The second Saturday of each month we take between 35 and 60 volunteers to three or four of these organizations and do whatever the organization would like: physical work around the facility, or work with people. For instance, one of the organizations works with refugees helping them settle in the area, in October the service opportunity is taking high school refugee students to a sporting event, while other volunteers will be going to do clean up and plant flowers at a recovery facility for women coming out of abusive situations and others will be staining fences and decks at a camp.

    We also partner with area churches in serving the homeless and a few other ministries. Our pastor is pretty involved with supporting other local pastors, meeting with them working with them and offering opportunities when he knows our congregation could help another congregation in some service.

    How are we going to maintain this? Mostly we are going to start a new fellowship where most of our congregation exists. There is a part of Nashville called East Nashville, which is about 20 minutes from our building, where a large part of congregation lives. We have 29 homegroups in our fellowship, 19 are spread across 16 areas of town while 10 are in East Nashville. The new plant will be in this East Nashville location. The people who are part of these home groups understand the mission of the church and understand the vision of this community involvement…these are the people who serve and the people who “get” the simplicity. These are the people who will begin the plant, and most likely one of these home group leaders will be the pastor of the new plant…we won’t be beginning with just a hand full of folks trying to start something new. The intention will be to offer a location for the people of our congregation who are already there simply because we have outgrown our facility and we don’t want a bigger facility.

    Does that help?

  229. Dislike. Poor stereotype of large churches. Very judgemental. Every sized church can serve the mission of God. I’m pretty sure there are as many messed up small churches as there are large churches.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)

%d bloggers like this: