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More on Multisite

Photo by Frederik Falinski on Unsplash

Due to tremendous interest in the multisite conversation between Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald, I thought it would be helpful to feature several other resources on the topic. These articles should fill in several gaps left behind by the 10-minute video.

John Piper seeks to clarify the cultural and theological factors relevant to multisite churches in this brief response at Desiring God. And Tim Keller responds to a USA Today article on the multisite phenomenon by explaining why his church made the move. Interestingly, Redeemer Presbyterian did not add sites for economic reasons or because they thought they could attract bigger crowds more quickly. Rather, Redeemer added sites to get closer to where people live and begin the transition toward several autonomous congregations.

Perhaps the best single resource on this topic, though, comes from 9Marks, whose reluctance to support the multisite trend is well known. This e-journal from May/June 2009 excels because it compiles the best arguments from both sides. You’ll read theological and exegetical arguments and learn from history. Dever even confesses that he pastored a multisite congregation before it was cool. Matt Chandler, undaunted by writing for 9Marks, describes theological and philosophical criticism of multisite churches as “both limited and weak.” Nevertheless, he asks several questions revealing the uncertainty facing multisite churches in the future. “Twenty years from now are there fifteen preachers in the United States?” Chandler asks.

It’s admirable how much space 9Marks grants to arguments they don’t necessarily support. Kudos to 9Marks for tapping Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Gregg Allison, a member at Sojourn Church in Louisville, to write a “Theological Defense of Multi-Site.” J.D. Greear also defends his multisite church from a biblical, practical, and pastoral perspective.

Those who are convinced there are no good critiques of multisite would do well to carefully consider the exegetical argument offered by Grant Gaines, a pastor and Southern PhD student. Bobby Jamieson compiles some thoughtful quotes from historical figures to offer context for contemporary debates. In the Gospel Coalition roundtable video with Dever, MacDonald and Driscoll contend strongly that multisite and church planting are both/and ventures. Nevertheless, Jonathan Leeman mounts a strong case for prioritizing church planting. He also writes a detailed theological critique of multisite churches that treats the biblical text carefully and interacts with Piper.

Commenters will probably know about many more resources to help church leaders consider these important matters in a way that honors God and follows his Word.

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