Over the years I’ve been in small churches with one morning service, in bigger churches with one service and I’ve been in churches with multiple services. When I was offered this book to review I jumped at it, not because I thought I would agree or disagree off the bat, but because this is a very interesting topic.
Should churches have multiple service? Is there a Biblical argument for or against a multi-service or multi-site church?
This is probably one of those questions that not many christians, who aren’t in ministry, really think about. I know a number of pastors who have thought through this topic and have landed on both sides, but it is a very important topic. It’s important because it deals with our corporate worship of God, therefore, it is not something that we can take lightly.
In this book Jonathan Leeman’s plea to churches is this…
“Don’t look to the best business practices or the latest styles; look to God. Start by listening to God’s word again.”
It’s interesting to hear the focus many church leaders place on numbers (especially now during the COVID-19 situation). Leaders are tempted to speak about members and attendees, or how many views the have online and so on. However, the focus should never be numbers but the focus should always be how are we glorifying God and equipping the saints. Here’s what Leeman says…
“As evangelicals, we can be shortsighted, like eating candy before a marathon for the burst of sugar energy we expect it to give. We fixate on the number of people in the pews this Sunday, but lose sight of how a healthy biblical church is the best way to fulfill the Great Commission over time—to run the whole marathon with endurance. Biblical church order serves disciple-making. Biblical polity aids evangelism. Don’t separate them.”
The argument in this book is that churches should not split their services, but that they should gather as one body. The argument is put forth really well with convincing Biblical support, it is written knowing the frustrations of gathering as one body (with large numbers) and our of a pastoral heart for the Lord’s people. Here is a very short summary of Leeman’s argument…
“The single assembly of a church demonstrates, proves, embodies, illustrates, incarnates, makes concrete, makes palpable and touchable and hearable and seeable the unity we possess in the gospel. Gathering as a local assembly is the very first imperative to the indicative of the unity we possess as members of the universal church. It literally makes that unity visible and active. The body of Christ is not just an idea. Nor is the family of God. Nor is the temple of the Spirit. You can actually see and hear and reach out and touch the body, family, and temple in the gathering. The gathering manifests the universal church, or what people sometimes capitalize as the Church.”
I’ve listen to Leeman and Dever’s stuff through the ministry of 9Marks for a long time now and knew that this was there position, but I really enjoyed actually getting to grips with their reasoning behind it. This would be a great short book for pastors, church leaders, elders to read. It would also be a helpful book for you, Christian reader, if you’re looking for a church. I found it very interesting and very helpful.
I’m still mulling it all over in my mind, I see the pros and cons on both sides, but would agree that our desire should be to glorify the Lord and equip the saints above all. If you’ve read the book already, or read it in the future, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, if your church has multiple services, I would love to hear why you decided to go down that route and not stick with a single service.
I hope you enjoy reading this book and telling me what you think 🙂
You can buy the book here through the Crossway website.
Jonathan Leeman (PhD, University of Wales) is the editorial director for 9Marks. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books and teaches at several seminaries. Jonathan lives with his wife and four daughters in a suburb of Washington, DC, and is an elder at Cheverly Baptist Church.