May 30, 2008
I dont think you can have this discussion (or cast any opinion) until you become aware of and understand any certain "mega"-church's strategy. Is the main sunday morning service intended to be a place where everyone is known and "true community" is had? If it is, I'd be willing to say that will be a challenge for any church over about 30 people. Sure, people could know your name and recognize you, but, "being known" is a relative term to many church goers. Many people say that they want a church where they are "known" but what they are saying is that they want a church where they are "recognized"...which seems less of a spiritually goal to me.<br><br>I guess what I am getting at is this. Many people cast major judgment on big churches because they put alot of people in the same room on a Sunday morning. Still, many, if not most, of these churches dont claim their Sunday morning gathering to be the place that a person is truly known. That happens in home groups, community groups, or the myriad of other small group settings that they provide. I find that articles like the one references above seldom take that into consideration.<br><br>For many churches, the Sunday morning worship service isnt the end of the road, spiritually. It is only the beginning of their strategy....further down which is true community, where anonymity is removed.<br><br>My two cents...
I have not attended a mega-church, but my small church uses many resources from these organizations, such as Promiseland (children's church ministry from Willow Creek), starting our small groups program using The Purpose Driven Life, etc. What I hear from ministry leaders is there is less involvement past attending the Sunday service. Parents want their children in Promiseland, but they do not want to volunteer. They want RoyalRangers, but they don't follow up with their boys at home and they don't stay for the adult service on Wednesday evening. <br><br>I hear much the same lament from my mother, who is a special eduction teacher. Parents want their children educated without having to reinforce things at home. Teachers resent extra duties like chaperoning dances because the parents are no longer part of the picture. <br><br>Sometimes I wonder if it is because we simply no longer tolerate each other. We're not willing to sacrifice our time because we've decided it's so very precious. We're not willing to waste it on people we don't know, or like, or have a grudge against.<br><br>Perhaps a return to manners, that filter between our brain and our mouth, would be a good place to start.
In a sense the first church WAS a mega church. 3000 people were suddenly converted (a poke at David Fitch's article below). It says they gathered at Solomon's Porch in the temple which was one of the few public places large enough to accomodate everyone. It also says that they had to appoint deacons to wait on tables for communal feasts. However, they also met house to house every day in private homes. I think that duality is the ideal model. I have no problem with a mega church that puts strong emphasis on small groups during the week. However, a steady diet of mega sessions only might be un-healthy. I have a problem though with small churches, who are happy being small and unconcerned with growing. That's called a club, and yes, it's very comfortable. A healthy church grows daily, weekly, monthly in numbers as the power of the gospel is released.
I went to a small church that has wonderful community but no outreach. It wasn't fulfilling the great commission. No matter what we tried it was so hard to bring new people in. We had become clubby and culturally irrelevant. We moved on, not to a mega church, but to one with about 2000 members. It is fulfilling the great commission with seekers in every service. It creates community through small groups and through an outward forcus in which groups of people serve in the town we're in, in other places both in the u.s. and abroad. I've come to believe that "community" is about reaching out to others, not about being part of a group small enough to make me a "big deal."
I've gone to several different megachurches up and down the East Coast (in Maryland, Virginia and Massachusetts), and what I've enjoyed the most about all of them is the resources and opportunities that they're able to provide. For example, the megachurch I attended in Boston, MA has a huge choir accompanied by a large instrumental ensemble, and the members are largely from the Berklee School of Music, so the Sunday worship feels almost like a concert. In the other two churches, the musicians are nationally-known gospel artists and the weekly news announcements are video produced and edited by people who work for CNN and other big news networks. <br><br>Granted that it could so happen that these people find there way to smaller churches, but if your church has several thousand people, it's more likely that they'll find their way to the larger church. And like on Captain Planet, with those powers combined (lol sorry for the reference, it just came to mind), they can take an idea from someone who knows little about music or technology and make it so much bigger and more excellent. <br><br>Like, look at Craig Groeschel's church in OK (<a href="http://lifechurch.tv" rel="nofollow">lifechurch.tv</a>), they have a whole team of technology people dedicated to maintaining their state of the art website that reaches people with hundreds of messages and resources all around the world. If they were a smaller church, they probably wouldn't be able to do that. <br><br>And about the anonymity that megachurches bring: I've found that that's helped me to be more intentional about finding a ministry or a group to get involved with. And getting involved with those groups helps to ensure that I'm being involved with the church and getting to know people through a ministry that's important and interesting to me, not just something that someone handed me b/c they were short on people.<br><br>So, in a way, megachurches help people to "step up their God-relationship" and take the steps to get involved. Because you might not feel needed in the salient way that you might feel in a small church (because they're so short-handed). In a megachurch, you have to figure out what's important to you of all of the many things that the church is doing and see how you can get involved with that. <br><br>And if you see a need that's not somehow being met, chances are high that a megachurch has the resources to help you start a group or a ministry (or whatever) to meet those needs.
Having worked in both a large (4000+) and many small churches (down to less than 50), I have also come to the opinion that many of the anonymous people in large churches are there because they didn't want to be in a very non-anonymous small churches.<br><br>Would they have gone anywhere if this option was not available.
Your wonderment hits the nail on the head for me. Time is precious to me and moreso my Spirit. When in the Spirit unanimously, toleration of one another would be a given. Not usually so, when one has been burned a few times, it is not desired. Worshiping in congregational singing, lifting of the hands, praising is what we go in the sanctuary for. To worship the LORD. Let those who want more do more, but let's not beat up those who don't want to be in this and in that...
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