Sproul Jr. on Multi-Site Churches

Posted: September 3, 2011 in church, controversy, ecclesiology, preaching, technology

RC Sproul Jr. has posted a short critique of the increasing prevalence of multi-site churches that stream one message to multiple venues:

Here’s a brief and partial list of the ways this is bad:

1. It cultivates and encourages the cult of personality…
2. It cultivates and encourages a form of preaching that is anything but pastoral…
3. It cultivates and encourages a broader failure to watch out for the souls entrusted to the shepherds (Hebrews 13:17)…
4. It cultivates and encourages a consumerist mentality among the sheep…
5. It cultivates and encourages a lack of dependence on the gospel itself. The power is in the Word, not the one delivering it. Our strategies are foolishly built around the messenger rather than the message.

While I think Sproul sets up a few straw men and unnecessary dichotomies, his comments highlight a more fundamental issue than simply the proper use of technology in the context of the corporate gathering.  I think the conversation needs to begin with the nature of the “church” and the role that preaching plays in pastoral (or better, elder) ministry.  If the sermon is viewed as the primary means through which the Word is administered and the congregation shepherded, it seems that a multi-site model would be more acceptable, with it’s emphasis on the preached Word.

That being said, one of the most vocal opponents of the multi-site model is also a strong advocate for the centrality of preaching: Mark Dever.  You can hear his arguments in this discussion with Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald.  The Resurgence has also posted a biblical defense of the multi-site model.

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