Sep 30, 2011

The Mosquito Coast and the Cult of Video Venue

On the Gospel Coalition Blog, Thabiti Anyabwile (don't ask me how to pronounce that) wrote a great post on the whole "video venue/simulcast/multi-site" debacle that is going on in the Church today. Any of you who read my blog or listen to me rant from the pulpit on a normal basis about the gimmicky immaturity that is presented as "ministry method" probably know where I come down on this. I remember hearing musings of it and then found the first defense of it in Mark Driscoll's Vintage Church. The book is an otherwise great book. But I really had a hard time fitting in the idea of "multi-site" with the idea of anything "vintage" much less biblical, apostolic or even just early Church.
To be totally honest, I saw a great movie years ago with Harrison Ford, one of his less known roles. It was called the Mosquito Coast. Maybe you have seen it. But for those of you who have not, Harrison's character is a genius Harvard drop out who in mid-life heads down to the Mosquito Coast to live there because he is terrorized by conspiracy theories. Taking his family down there he inventively sets up to live long term. But his nemesis in the movie is this creepy charlatan missionary who taking advantage of all the natives in the name of God. One of the things that registered high on the creep scale was that the Missionary had placed large screen TV's in "video venues" all over the jungle so he could be everywhere at once (omnipresent?). Essentially it was a satellite "simulcast." The natives were herded into his grass hut venues. and would sit in awe of him, almost like he were a god, jaws hanging open, near drooling. I remember way back then (in the 90's) that it just seemed all wrong, and the writers of the movie were using the idea of his use of modern western technology as a way to manipulate, and control the natives from a far. That all said, the first time I started hearing about "video-venue" I laughed and remarked how funny it was how Evangelicals now think that doing the same thing as the Jim Jones cult personal in the Mosquito Coast is actually a good idea.
So check out Thabiti Anybwile's thoughts on how "Multi-site Churches are from the Devil." He has a bunch of great thoughts that are the same as mine, so I don't have to write it myself and get all worked up. As a parting note though, Thabiti points out how the whole idea is rooted in idolatry, It is an obsession with method and personality. This is rampant in the Church today, and most of what is now being called "missional" is really just more of the “seeker-sensitive" and Church Growth movement all dressed up in drag. Modern evangelical ministry approaches are essentially modernist. We think if we create a method we can then just pull the crank and out comes healthy churches. Foolishness. It is just “methodolatry.” We think to highly of our own wisdom and too poorly of the Gospel and the hard work of authentic disciple-making.




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