"4. Why is church planting superior to opening campuses? At Seacoast we do both. If a we have a leader who has a unique vision and a call to preach we help him plant an autonomous church. (We've helped plant almost 25 new churches in the past few years) If a leader resonates with the vision God has given Seacoast and does not feel a call to preach we help him plant a new Seacoast campus."
First. Very cool. I appreciate churches that plant churches and really, seriously desire for us to be that kind of church and plant that kind of church. I can't wait to see our first "grand-daughter" church... the first church planted by a church we plant out of evergreen.
However, where I find myself feeling some friction here is "If a leader resonates with the vision God has given Seacoast and does not feel a call to preach we help him plant a new Seacoast campus."
I think in general I have a problem with one body, one local church, being overly connected to another. It seems two seperate buildings on one campus is one church. One building on one side of the street and another on the other... maybe that's one church.
But when you start talking about across town or two hours away? Regardless of common branding and similar vision, it's different people and a different church community.
And to me, that means some things.
I've already told you why I think a church should have it's own teacher(s). While I believe in the unity of the Church as whole, I also believe churches should have their own elders... and vision... and mission... and control over their own community.
The main reason I believe planting churches is superior to planting campuses is that what you are really doing (if I am understanding the model correctly) when you plant a campus is planting a church that has had it's leadership outsourced to somehwere else. It's not just that the teaching is done remotely, but also (it seems) the leadership is done so as well.
Now, I'm sure that a "campus" church can still, as a body, listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and develop as their own unique body... the problem is that they can only take that so far. Their vision/mission, etc is determined by a group of people relationally and geographically distant. Thus, it seems that long term, there is some leadership development that cannot take place in this local church.
My contention is this: This makes for good short term, church planting results but probably for not-as-good long term body maturity results. Not only do I see this model having a problem developing competent preachers and teachers, but elders and leaders as well... It seems as though part of the maturity process for a church body is going through the steps of re-inventing certain wheels for themselves, learning certain leadership lessons over and developing their own unique community, people growing to maturity and into real leadership in a body, and that body as a whole, listening to what God is saying to them and having the freedom to work that out as a local, organic entity.
My big fear is that with the proliferation of churches with no control over their destiny as a body is not a healthy thing in the long run, for the church in America.
I'll wrap this up tomorrow with some more thoughts along this line...