I ran into a fellow pastor/acquaintance at the Q Cafe yesterday. He’s a good guy. We ended up having a short but substantive talk since I haven’t seen him for several months. When I last chatted with him, he asked for some advice about churchplanting and so I did the good midrash thing and asked him a few questions which he said he really took to heart and got him thinking. Those questions led him down a road where he eventually left his denomination and go figure, joined the Mars Hill Church network. He’ll soon be pastoring one of their zillion “campuses.” That’s just kind of funny to me that my advice got another pastor to join Mars Hill.
Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill has been on the national news a lot recently. The NY Times published an article couple months ago entitled, Who Would Jesus Smack Down? The reporter called last year and asked me for some quotes but I said, “No thanks.” My ego was tempted since it would have been nice to be mentioned in the NY Times but not that way. I’ve got my differences with Mark but heck, we’re still Facebook friends. BFF KIT TTYL. Meme me.
In previous entries on this blog, I’ve shared both the concerns and respect I have for Mark here and here. But my conversation yesterday with this soon to be MH elder got me thinking [again] about the church video venue. Honestly, it both fascinates and scares me. Fascinates me because of what it can accomplish and scares me for what it might destroy. Of course, MH is not the first and certainly will not be the last. LifeChurch.tv, which is part of my increasingly diverse denomination – the Evangelical Covenant Church, has 16 video venue churches in six states, the UK, and an actual internet campus.
Mars Hill has come out and publicly shared their goal of having 100 video campuses in the next 10 years. While I have and will likely always have some fundamental theological differences with Mark and Mars Hill, I genuinely share in the excitement of the gospel flourishing through their ministry. I know that despite the barrage of criticism they must receive, lives are being impacted by the Gospel and that’s a beautiful thing. But this video venue thing is still something I can’t wrap my heart around. I get the idea of the influential leader. I believe in leaders amongst leaders. I don’t have any problems with the fact that Driscoll is a gifted and influential leader but even with ‘campus pastors,’ I wonder if the writing is on the walls: Churches with certain influential leaders will market those influential leaders and thus, those churches will grow bigger and larger through the medium of technology ultimately leading to the decline and death of local churches as we know it now. Bob Hyatt – a pastor in the Portland area – shared some of his thoughts and strong reservations about the whole video venue thing and the possibilities that it’s like the Walmartization of churches.
“So-and-so church” video venue coming near you…
Quest will eventually stream video on our website as a resource to folks. But last year, I was stunned at the pushback I received in a membership class when I shared that Quest was committed to churchplanting which also included planting campuses. Instantaneously, several hands went up and some intense questions and conversations ensued because they [falsely] assumed they I meant planting video campuses. Now, I’m not going to say never but that’s just not us. We do hope to plant a campus on the Eastside sometime later this year if the Elder Board jointly discerns it’s the right time…
Supporters for the video venue churches will respond with the magic line that’s really hard to respond to: “But the Gospel is flourishing…”
What do you think? What are the pros and cons? I know the elders/pastors at many of these churches are making prayerful decisions but I have my reservations if this is good for the Church – not for now but for the future.
But while we’re at it, I want to claim this idea for myself. Don’t steal it! Introducing…Quest Church’s drive in Video Venue Campus coming near you.