Friday, October 15, 2010

#197 Multi-site churches

As evangelical churches vie to become bigger by use of business tactics, they're outgrowing their buildings. As such, the multi-site church has sprung whole from the American business model.

A multi-site church has a main campus and many smaller spawn called satellites that operate under the auspices of the parent church. (Vocab words are in italics.) The satellite church is sort of a sequel to the original. It's of the same lineage but everyone really likes the first one better, though in Christian culture they won't say it out loud. People prefer the original because that is where the charismatic pastor man who started the whole enterprise speaks live and in person.

His title is teaching pastor, preaching pastor or lead pastor, and he very seldom appears in person at any of the satellite churches. The satellites are basically theaters sprinkled around a 50 mile radius (sometimes larger) as overflow reservoirs. At these satellites the lead pastor's visage is beamed onto a big screen as he preaches live from the main campus. People assemble in the satellite buildings to sing worship songs, listen to the real live campus pastor make announcements, and then watch the main-attraction pastor speak via satellite. Everyone who attends accepts this arrangement as fine and even good.

When you see a pastor preaching on a big screen, there is a .0042% chance you would ever be granted a personal meeting with him. Again, this is accepted by the general populace as okay. The New Testament pastors understood they had a shepherding role over the church and felt a personal relationship with each of the members was vitally important, but this aspect of the ancient church is falling by the wayside as technology advances. What can I say, holograms are pretty cool.

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The original post and ensuing comment thread can be seen here.


Mike said...

I love the dude preaching on Colossians in front of pics of the Colosseum I forgot the two were one and the same.

Anonymous said...

Wow Stephy.. that thing about hardly getting a chance to meet the pastor is weird... when I was a kid, EVERYONE in church shook hands with the minister when leaving the church. T'ain't nuthin' to be able to call him up and talk!!


Kevin said...

Lol. My wife's church just merged with another, precipitating this exact scenario. Her description of the anger, crying and despair that erupted when this union was announced made me picture mental ward patients' response to a notice that there'd be no more pudding on Fridays.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and apparently it's SO important to have multiple venues that you should lie if you don't REALLY have that many.
I visited a church a couple years ago that had slogans written all over their walls saying "they're ONE church in MANY campuses".
Turns out they were one church, that just merged with one other church on the other side of town. And that was the sum total of their "many" campuses.

Terry said...

Our Senior Pastor visited our satellite church, and he did it as a visitor so that he could see how things were going. And by the senior pastor helps me prep sermons for the rural church (less the 25 people in attendance)that my wife and I minister at on a once a month basis.
Whens the last time you ministered at a church with less then 25 people in attendance??

Bryant C said...

I personally hate it when a church is like this.
It's really weird and uncomfortable...moreso than it might be without, that is.