Big churches aren’t going away any time soon. Whoever quipped that the megachurch is dying spoke a little too soon. In fact a few years ago Leadership Network published an article in which they shared the following research about megachurches (a Protestant congregation with 2,000 or more weekly attendees – both adults and children):
- In 1970 there were less than 25 megachurches in all of North America
- In 1983 there were less than 100 megachurches in the United States
- Today there are more than 1,650 megachurches in North America (roughly 1,625 in the United States and 25 in Canada)
All of that means this past weekend of those who went to a Protestant Church in North America, 1 out of 10 went to a megachurch. The megachurch phenomenon of recent history doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. In fact it seems to be growing, even outside of North America big churches are getting bigger.
So, understanding that people in church-world seem to have some strong feelings about large churches a couple of years ago I asked a simple question to readers here on my blog, “What’s wrong with big churches?” As you can imagine, I received quite a bit of input. So with no commentary from me (at least on part-1 of this post anyway), here are the top 10 complaints I received about large churches.
#1 “It’s Difficult to Connect with People”
Far and away this was the most common complaint I received about large churches. The complaint goes like this, “There are so many people who attend these large churches, that new people seem to have a difficult time connecting with the people who are already there and building new friendships.”
#2 “The Pastor doesn’t Know Me”
I want to go to a church where the pastor knows me and I know the pastor. If something is going on in my life, the pastor should know about it and I should be able to talk to them and get the help and counsel I need directly from the pastor. If the pastor doesn’t really know me then they must not care about me, and why would I go to a church where I’m not cared about?
#3 “It’s all about the Budget and the Buildings”
All large churches care about is money; they’re always talking about money. Their facilities are so elaborate; they could probably honor God more by helping the poor and actually taking care of people instead of building a bunch of gaudy, high-tech, buildings. I wouldn’t give my money to a large church they have enough.
#4 “The Staff are always Changing”
Every time I go to church there is a new a staff member that I don’t know. I feel like as we’re growing we’re adding all of these new staff members and I don’t know who does what anymore. What’s worse is it seems like we’re losing staff too! Really good ones who helped this church become what it is. If they’re leaving maybe I should too.
#5 “They only care about Numbers not Discipleship”
All large churches care about is numbers and being big or getting bigger. But discipleship happens one-on-one. It’s small. Large churches care about reaching the masses but then they forget about them after they are reached and they have to go to a smaller church to be discipled.
#6 “They Build Consumers not Disciples”
The large church environment provides opportunities for people to attend anonymously and enjoy the ministries of a large church but remain uncommitted and unplugged from church life. You can attend and never get in a Bible Study or volunteer or grow in your relationship with Jesus and others.
#7 “They’ve turned the Church into a Business”
Many people compare and think of large churches the way they think of a corporation or a large business. They assume that because there are components that behave like a business (human resources, finances, facilities, and so on) that it can’t be God honoring.
#8 “The Sermons are a Mile Wide & an Inch Deep”
In other words, “If they were really preaching the Word of God all those people wouldn’t be going there.” The sermons at large churches are designed just to make people feel good and draw a crowd.
#9 “All they care about is the Weekend Show”
All of the time, and energy, and talent go into making the weekend services great. If they would put that same amount of resources into other ministries like children’s ministry, student ministry, and discipleship ministries we might be able to actually make disciples. Discipleship doesn’t happen in the weekend services.
#10 “They’re really Lousy at Communication”
I used to know people here and I always knew what was going on. But now as things have grown I don’t know anything anymore. So much is happening, where can I go to find out about what is going on and how my family and me can be involved? And what’s most frustrating is that when change happens (which is all the time) I’m always surprised.