Here's an excerpt from Kevin DeYoung's post yesterday on multisite options in churches:
"[A]s I studied and thought about the issue more I came to understand why some churches chose multisite. It can steward the talents of the preacher. It can save money. It allows a church to get bigger (in one sense) without getting bigger (in another sense). And it gives you another beachhead for ministry.
With these positives I was happy to see our church explore the option of multisite over a year ago. Call me indecisive, but I’ve now swung back in the other direction. I can’t prove multisite is wrong. In fact, it may be the best option in some situations, especially as a temporary measure. But something I read from Martyn Lloyd-Jones cemented in my mind a crucial weakness of most multisite approaches. New technologies and new methods always have trade-offs. Sometimes the pluses outweigh the negatives. And as I think about it more, multisite has one huge negative I don’t want to live with unless I absolutely have to." (Read More)
The big negative he cites (rightly, I think) is the lack of interplay between preacher and congregation that is a critical part of this kind of communication. There are reasons, besides fellowship and corporate worship, that we don't simply watch all our sermons online or read them in books. I wonder, though, if the same could also provide an argument against massive church growth. DeYoung says, "I want to see the people I’m preaching to, even if there are lots of them to see. I want to be at the back of the sanctuary to shake hands, even if I can’t shake every hand and may forget too many names." As a congregant, I want that rapport, too. But there is obviously a point of saturation for name memory, a point at which it becomes difficult to shake every hand once, let alone weekly. Ruling out multisite, however, expansion isn't the only option left to accomodate growth. I love the occasional revival experience, say at a conference, a retreat, or a concert. But there's something to splintering off intentionally when that saturation point is reached (and to keeping that point low) whether to keep the churches in the neighborhoods they purport to serve, or just to make the hands the more shakeable.