by | Mar 11, 2024

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. Let’s read it together:

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

One of the key questions this parable subversively sinks into our thinking is how effective (for the kingdom of God) are we being with the tools/resources that God has already placed into our hands?It is very easy in the Christian world to think, ‘if only we had more… [fill in the blank], then we could do more… [again, fill in the blank]’. Yet, through this parable, Jesus is asking different questions: what are you doing with what I’ve already given you? Are you investing that for kingdom purposes? I think these questions are really helpful ‘in’ to the whole subject of mission in Stockport and South East Manchester. You see, we believe that we could effectively grow a church of 600 people utilising the two current buildings that we have! Yes, it will mean some reconfiguring, but we could utilise these mission hubs to effectively grow a church community of about 600 people. That seems to me an appropriate response to the parable of the talents question we read about in Matthew 25

So what might a multisite church look like? 


Four guiding principles:

There must be genuine:

  • Unity of leadership (ie one eldership team and one team of deacons serving one church that has multiple services and sites).
  • Unity of doctrine (not just on paper but deeply woven into the day-to-day life of the church).  
  • Unity of philosophy of ministry (put simply, how we do things around here).
  • And a living relational ‘rubber band’* (congregational integrity).

* This is an important concept because it shows the edge and distinction between a multisite solution and a newly formed partner church. The relational rubber band is a way of communicating the biblical idea that a true and authentic local church meeting at different times and different locations must be held together by living and dynamic relationships (see 1 Cor 12 as an example). These relationships can be seen like a relational rubber band; even though they are stretched over a slightly larger geographic distance, the unity and friendship remain. However, this relational rubber band cannot be stretched too far, otherwise, it will effectively break and you end up having multiple churches.

Let me draw a comparison between a multiservice and a multisite church. In a multiservice church will you know everyone who goes to the other service that you don’t regularly attend (like in a multisite set-up)? No. In fact, even if we were to buy a huge building with enough space for 600+ people, would you know everyone in the room? The honest answer is no. So when we talk about a relational rubber band we are not talking about everyone in the church knowing everyone, because most people don’t have the capacity to know more than between 75-150 people in a meaningful way. And before you start making the jump in the wrong direction, that’s not an argument for a small church, because the Bible does not allow us to make that jump. In Acts 2 we see a church that was deeply devoted to fellowship (that’s a relational way of life) and yet launched with 3000 and then kept growing … daily. 


To make this a little more practical, here are some ways that a multiservice, multisite church solution could operate across our two current locations:

  • We look to establish two services at both locations (obviously not all at once!). This would give us the capacity for about 600 people.
  • We would maintain and grow one eldership team but over time these elders would develop a stronger (but not exclusive) focus on one of the four services. 
  • We would look to employ site-specific pastors who can carry some of the day-to-day focus for that site.
  • We would maintain one unified governance structure (trustees and managing deacons). 
  • We would maintain one unified mission and vision.
  • We would maintain one unified budget that apportions finances according to priorities set by the eldership and agreed by the congregation as a whole.
  • We would maintain one unified teaching programme. 
  • We would develop and maintain one unified ministry model (e.g. discipleship and family models).
  • We would develop and maintain one unified pastoral approach.
  • We would develop unique, site-specific community engagement programmes and evangelistic strategies (this is where the edge of the church and the localised mission needs contextualising). In short, the edge of the church (evangelism and community engagement) would become site- or geographically-specific whilst the core would remain unified and consistent.


  • This model enables us to release more and more ministry-specific leaders (family worker, youth worker, pastoral care, biblical counselling, social action workers, media and comms) as well as the core pastor/assistant pastor roles. If we went down the dividing into two approach, we would have to radically reshape the staffing and basically have generalists (a pastor).
  • It means that an increasing amount of the energy of the church can be focused on the edge (evangelism and community engagement) and not ‘running the day-to-day aspects of church life’ (governance and building fabric).
  • It means that we can create significantly more diverse training and equipping opportunities for people (thus helping one of our other key objectives).
  • It gives us the benefits of a large church whilst at the same time having the benefits of the geographically localised smaller church.
  • At the same time, it recognises that people don’t just live local lives any longer and most people’s ‘community’ is a complex venn diagram of overlapping communities. It thus gives people the opportunity to participate in the part of the church community that is most effectively going to help them to grow, mature, serve and witness.
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