So, here's one of the best apologies for satellite campuses I've heard. Nothing new, just stated in a way that makes more sense to me.
I'm not sure that I agree that so few people are cut out to plant churches... I think Acts 29 assesses too rigidly and doesn't make enough room for what God may want to do through some very cracked and unlikely vessels...
But other than that, this is excellent. It was a comment on Steve McCoy's blog posting about Mars Hill's (Seattle) plan to launch Video Venues™.
Here's an excerpt- click through for the rest...
Hey guys, I really hesitate to throw this out because I don’t want to be thought of as a guy who is trying to impress people with what God has done in our midst. I am a pastor in desperate need of God's forgiving and empowering grace and am becoming less and less impressed with myself. Currently I am in a sweet but painful season of repentance over the coldness of my own heart. Even as I write I am fighting back tears (honestly!) at my own lack of holiness and desire to be accepted by people more than God. In short, I suck but God is good.
I love small, neighborhood churches and have given my life to assessing, training and coaching guys who will plant smaller, missional churches that will rock their part of the world with the gospel. My heart bleeds for church planting! But, I would like to throw out our situation as a church that is staring down the barrel of the whole video venue deal.
And, I only lay the numbers out to help you understand the tension of our situation. I am not trying to be super-planter and convince you guys that I am great. I firmly believe our church plant was in the right place at the right time. Glory to God, not to me or our elders.
Our church is just over 3 years old and almost 900 people are attending the services. My vision when we parachuted into our city was to plant a neighborhood church and then plant other neighborhood churches. We would get to 250 or so and then give 50 people to a planter and “rinse repeat step one.” This was a great plan except it didn't work. The problem is that there are very few guys who can plant a church. Our network assesses hundreds of guys every year and I can tell you that few in our estimation are called to do it. This is evidenced by the 70-80% failure rate. I saw this in our own context as we simply didn't have guys with the calling and skill- set to give people to. The other issue, whether we like it or not, is that believers and un-believers are attracted to those with " 5 or 10 talent" teaching gifts and tend to want to attend churches with that level of teaching. I am not implying that pastors who only have "2 talent" teaching gifts aren't as important or godly. I am saying what is the obvious: The larger the church the more "talents" the pastor is likely to have in the area of teaching.
I am are absolutely committed to church planting as is Mark (we serve together on the board of Acts 29 that has planted a ton of churches in the U.S. and beyond). The problem in a growing church is that as soon as you give 50 or 100 away, the seats are filled back up in a month. The truth is that certain churches grow because God intends them to in order to bless the world. I think this is the "right" reason for mega-churches who can be a resource center (training, funding, etc) to the city and perhaps world. There are a lot of jacked up mega-churches that function more like a mall than a mission center. But, that is another discussion.
We have three guys on our teaching team, although I preach about 70 percent of the time. There are many reasons for this but for the purpose of this discussion I will say I teach the vast majority of the time because it is my best gift to the church.
Here is our reality:
We were at three services in a smaller building so we moved our morning service to a high school with twice as many seats and moved back to two services. Now, only 4 months later we are having to go back to 3 services. We bought a building and will probably be at 4 services in the fall. Also, we are planting a church in the fall as well, taking several people and a staff member to do so.
The elders believe that a large majority of people who attend come to hear me preach. I hear it all the time from unbelievers (like last night when my wife and I had dinner with Eric and Amy). I hate it, but it is the truth. I don't want to set myself up as master teacher and I loathe the reality of the whole situation. It reeks of celebrity-worship, plays into consumerism and messes with my already far-too-large head. But, it also reeks of reality. Down through church history God has seemed pleased to use the teaching gift to draw people to himself. This is not a new thing, though it is weird for me to be in this position. I was a godless rebellious teen whom God saved from small rural town in Illinois. Nobody who knew me “then” can believe that I am the pastor of this church. Our elders and wife know my heart and how uncomfortable I am with all of this.
We have a great church and my teaching gift is certainly not our only "draw". But, I am coming to grips with the reality that this gift is significant and I don't need to apologize for it. Stay accountable to God, my wife and elders for it... not think of myself too highly for it... not think that gifting equals character for it...but also not apologize for it.
I hate the thought of my ugly mug on some video screen and I share the ALL the concerns that were posted here. But, I gotta tell you that the thought of preaching 4 and 5 times a Sunday doesn't look very appealing either. Some of you would say, "Just let the other guys teach." The problem is that they are both working 60-70 hours a week on other important matters for our community. When they preach they have to take 20 or so hours away from their important work. We are a young church (26 is average age) and so we don't have a ton of money to hire staff. You get my drift? Right now, and maybe for a while, the elders say I need to be in the pulpit the majority of the time using the gift God has given me.