Friday, October 8, 2010

Tony Payne on the Main Peril of the Multi-Site Model

Tony Payne weighs here on the video conversation on multi-site churches that I posted a few days ago. His conclusion is a very helpful contribution to the debate. Here it is:

I would have liked the conversation to turn more to the nature and theology of preaching. What is preaching? Is it the kind of communication that can happen just as easily from a video screen as in person?

In terms of the regular preaching that leads and shapes and feeds a Christian congregation, I would say most certainly not. Because preaching is not just information delivery, nor even contextually-shaped information delivery based on the preacher's knowledge of his people. It is an ongoing relationship, in which the pastor demonstrates the truth of his message by his own changed life, and in which the people not only listen to the pastor's words but follow his example. The preacher's knowledge of his people is of some importance, but it not nearly as significant as the people's knowledge of him.

As Paul says to Timothy: “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me” (2 Tim 3:10-11). The teaching and the life go together. That is why Paul urges Timothy in his first letter not only to hold fast to sound doctrine, but to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). Timothy is to keep a close watch not only the teaching but on his own life and godliness, and to let the people see his progress. “Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (2 Tim 4:16).

It seems to me that it is the nature of biblical preaching that makes the multi-site model ultimately untenable.


HT: Challies

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