Monday, September 26, 2011

Carl Trueman: Video multisite and a possible end of the Reformation

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2011/09/is-the-reformation-over.php


Time was that the megachurch was not highly thought of by those who claimed the name Reformed or looked to the Reformation for their historical inspiration. This was consistent with two basic concerns which had high priority for the Reformers: as opposition to things such as pluralities (ministers holding multiple appointments) and absenteeism (ministers not actually ever being where they ministered); and the fear of turning leaders into fetishes.

... The lack of pastoral care such multi-sites engender is common knowledge. Further, the whole idea seems clearly to turn certain preachers into fetishes. Medieval Catholics liked to obtain the body, or even just a fragment, of a saint for their church building in order to make it an authentic church, or a better church than the one in the neighbouring town (see. the undignified fight for the corpse of St. Anthony of Padua; today we need a virtual piece of a famous preacher in our locale to have access to the magic.


Carl Trueman mentions that the contemporary multi-site megachurch encourages to habits in pastoral leadership that were focal points for criticism of the Roman church by the Reformers. It was too easy for a priest to have a series of appointments and to not be at many of those appointed places. A megachurch multi-site pastor may rationalize that a video feed or a week-delay DVD rebroadcast of his sermon is reaching more people for Jesus. The videology argument has it that more people are reached for Jesus and most people won't be seeing the pastor anyway.

It's one of those ironies of history that neo-Calvinists are embracing a kind of ecclesiology that may be embodying at every level precisely the sort of ecclesiology that the Reformers believed was part of the corruption of the Roman church. At a multi-site church it's possible for a member to never attend more than a few times a year and no one, literally no one, will notice. A multi-site church rebroadcasting the lead teaching pastor's content a week later at all the other churches/satellites/campuses transforms the lead teaching pastor into a functional archbishop in a surreptitious episcopate (mind you, those of you who are in episcopates I'm not dogging that church government system, I'm just speaking here about megachurch multi-site systems who are living in denial about their true ecclesiological nature. The churches that have regional bishops and arch-bishops aren't the ones who are somehow in denial about what's actually going on!

Delegating pastoral care to campus pastors and saying that campuses are churches can mean that some actual pastoral care can happen, ideally, but the pastor who does the lion's share of the preaching at these campuses is preaching to people he'll never meet whose lives he has no connection to. As a certain pastor used to put it, this means the pastor is a denominational top dog who works in some office in some other state who never has any interaction with the actual people he is supposedly shepherding in the church yet gets to make decisions about what leaders at that distant church can do or say and whether or not they work there. For some of the new Calvinists, though, it would appear that so long as that office hundreds of miles from churches that spiritual leader oversees is in the pastor's own house that's okay. It's only really a problem and a temptation to OTHER churches that have the cajones to describe themselves as actually being denominations. ;)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

WTH: "A multi-site church rebroadcasting the lead teaching pastor's content a week later at all the other churches/satellites/campuses transforms the lead teaching pastor into a functional archbishop in a surreptitious episcopate...megachurch multi-site systems who are living in denial about their true ecclesiological nature."

i.e.: The Holy See:

http://www.bringthebooks.org/2011/08/bishop-mark-driscoll.html
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Anonymous said...

Whoa!
And this was just posted on the Gospel Coalition blogsite:

"Multi-site Churches Are From The Devil"


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Anonymous said...

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2011/09/27/multi-site-churches-are-from-the-devil/?comments#comments
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