Not So Breaking News
The last week or so has been filled with important news items, a few of which, like the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, shook the world. In my personal world the major news story was that, in spite of getting the flu shot, I spent a long miserable time with “flu-like symptoms.” The rest of the world was unaware of this news, except of course my wife who I strongly suspect wishes she was unaware of it.
In any event as I sit down at my computer not having read, let alone written, anything for a long time I wasn’t sure exactly where to start. Then I saw this on the website of the now-defunct Mars Hill Church, the mega-church pastored by Mark Driscoll:
“With her final breath, Mars Hill gave birth to eleven newly independent churches where, by God’s grace, the gospel will continue to be preached, his name will be glorified and thousands will be saved by Jesus.”
The image of a church tragically but heroically dying in childbirth as it strained to produce new life came to my mind, which I am sure was the goal.
Mars Hill, and Driscoll, had supporters and detractors by the hundreds. Many lives were touched by the grace of God there and many others were wounded by practices and people there. In this they were like all churches everywhere, a wildly imperfect group of people able to both heal and wound; often at the same time and with the same messages and methods.
It is not clear to me whether these eleven newly created churches will do well. I suspect the expectations you might have of them mirror your attitude toward Driscoll and Mars Hill. But the whole thing has me thinking about the idea of video-based, multi-site mega churches. I know personally of at least one healthy multi-site church personally so I am not saying the model is in any inherent way bad or harmful but it does make me wonder. What, exactly, is the benefit of church a church? Why not expand by planting new, independent churches or a network of churches with their own staffs?
I wish each of these new churches well. I also wish that all such video-based multi-site churches might take this time to ask themselves “Why am I doing church this way?” Come to think of it, it might be a good time for all of us to ask ourselves the same question.