I’m not a fan of the growing church campus movement. Yes, I know there is some value in these works and Deb is quick to remind me that there are indeed a lot of people getting connected to Christ through some of these campuses. I have a great friend that works with the campus model in my area. My brother; have mercy on his soul, attends one of these campus churches. Yes, there are people being saved and discipled at these campus churches. Yes, I know all the positive arguments for campuses. But I still just don’t like the idea. At its worst, I feel like campuses are more about Empire building than Kingdom expansion. I sense at times that much of this simply comes down to control issues. On my bad days I even want to liken the whole phenomena to the BORG from Star Trek. You know; assimilation of all worlds is the plan and resistance is Futile.
Before you get the idea that I’m just a scrooge, please know that my caution is not just emotional. In my sober moments, I do see at least two legitimate concerns. To begin with; is it really the best use of funds? My wife and I were shocked a few years ago when another friend who leads a mega church told us how much money they were putting into their next campus. After we picked our jaws up off the floor and quickly crunched the numbers we realized that we could have planted at least 10 autonomous churches for the same chunk of change in different parts of the world. One campus church recently was on life support and many “experts” would have recommended shutting it down if it were a traditional church plant. But the reason the main campus didn’t close up shop was because they had sunk so much money into a building purchased for the campus and they didn’t want to lose it. I wonder if they would have had that same amount of passion in keeping the doors open if the body in question were merely a daughter church meeting in a school.
But my main concern really deals with reproduction and further expansion of the Kingdom. It may be that campuses actually put a lid on exponential possibilities as the outreach and vision can only go as far as the control of the mother ship. But on the other hand, in simple church planting, when a mother church recognizes the calling of leaders, trains them, empowers them, blesses them, and releases them, then there is no end to the expansion.
So while I do see the benefit of a campus and probably just need to lighten up a bit, I’m still cautious about the whole philosophy. It may just be a passing phase anyway. But what about you? Have you researched this issue and come to a conclusion on the matter?
Actually Mike S; over the past few years I’ve grown to lean more to your position on this. I would not have a problem leading a church with campuses with the understanding that church planting would be the ultimate goal.
Agreed Mike and Craig; the focus is on making Disciples no matter the blueprint. (Which is what Deb keeps telling me) While there is more risk in the traditional plant than a campus expansion, I still believe that it has the most value for long term reproduction. I think you are right Mike, should be both. But I don’t see it that much. Seems like many, if not most of the churches that have embraced starting new campuses have simply closed the door on plant options.
Mike Seil, I believe that not only campuses, but a lot of the church planting has gotten too complicated. I believe any church, even the ones like you’ve mentioned that are below 250 in membership are capable of reproducing daughter churches. An old effective model was a lead minister and 10 core families. I’d rather go with a guy and core group full of heart and vision than an organization with only machinery any day.
Why not take all the money and effort involved and plant new churches? I just don’t understand the concept. It feels like they are saying “WE have it all together and WE know what is right but we’ll let you play if you follow OUR rules”.
That isn’t a fair statement and it isn’t backed with facts, it’s how it FEELS to me. I might feel differently if I were involved in a big numbers church. My experience has been with under 250 churches. I just don’t see what is gained by doing it that way.
I have observed what you describe and, like you, will acknowledge that God uses all kinds of strategies to make disciples but that doesn’t mean I’m a fan.
I have also observed churches whose campus strategy is all about making disciples and are being very effective at it. Most of these churches are doing both. They campus in places, or with people, who can be reached with a very similar style to their existing ministry. They plant in places that require a new approach or ministry style to be effective.
In both cases, the factors that seem to make a difference are:
1. a focus on making disciples.
2. an effective strategy for multiplying leaders.
If you do those two things, it doesn’t really matter (in my mind) whether you call it a campus or a plant.
As long is the church is expanding through church planting as well. It is not a question of either or both planting and campusing have to be taking place for maximum Kingdom expansion!