Tag Archive - large

0

What’s Wrong With Big Churches? Part-2

Some time ago I asked a simple question to the readers here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real, “What’s wrong with big churches?” As you can imagine I received some emotionally charged answers. But as I sifted through the responses there were 10 key issues that kept coming up.

In Part-1 of this post I briefly described each of these common criticisms of large churches with no added personal commentary, which I promised to add later. In this post I offer a few of my own thoughts and brief response to each of these top 10 complaints I received about large churches. If you want to understand my comments in context then read part-1 of the post.

#1 “It’s Difficult to Connect with People”

I’ve seen a lot of small seemingly friendly churches where it’s difficult to “break in” and connect. There is a big difference between being a friendly church and a church where you have friends. The key is does the church have a strategy to help guests take the next step towards involvement and discipleship?

#2 “The Pastor doesn’t Know Me”

One of the reasons that the average church in America has less than 80 people in attendance is because that’s the amount of people that one pastor can typically take care of by themselves. Jethro gave his son-in-law Moses some great advice in Exodus 18:13-26. Stop trying to do all of the work of leading God’s people alone. They shouldn’t all be coming to you. It’s bad for you and it’s bad for them. Learn to delegate and empower other leaders to join you and share the burden of leadership (paraphrase).

#3 “It’s all about the Budget and the Buildings”

Generosity is one of the key indicators of spiritual maturity. A church that doesn’t consistently talk about and lead their people to be generous is going to have a difficult time funding the expansion of the Gospel.

#4 “The Staff are always Changing”

In a growing church there are always going to be new staff added as a part of the growth. There will also naturally be staff that fit during a particular season who simply don’t have the capacity to lead in the next season of ministry as the church grows and a different skill-set is needed.

#5 “They only care about Numbers not Discipleship”

Simply put growth and numbers matter. Every number has a name and every name has a story. It’s important for churches to count people because people count. I’d rather see more people in a church than less people in a church and I’d rather see more people in heaven, than less people in heaven.

#6 “They Build Consumers not Disciples”

Spiritual maturity probably isn’t what you think it is. It’s not an emotional experience, an intellectual exercise, or acquiring more knowledge. Jesus tells a parable about two houses that were built, one on a foundation of sand and the other on a stone foundation. In both cases the builders heard the Word of God, but only one of the builders put what he heard into action. Could it be that spiritual depth according to the Scriptures is simply putting God’s Word into action? It’s not what you know it’s what you do with what you know.

#7 “They’ve turned the Church into a Business”

You’re right, the Church isn’t a business; it’s the body and bride of Christ. But that doesn’t mean that great financial stewardship, planning and strategies, structure, good operational or human resource practices are unbiblical. Read the book of Proverbs. The church hasn’t ripped off the business world; the business world has ripped off the book of Proverbs. It’s time we take it back and lead more wisely.

#8 “The Sermons are a Mile Wide & an Inch Deep”

Effective communicators understand how to take complex ideas and make them simple to understand and applicable to everyday life. Jesus was a master at this, and He was actually winsome in his approach. The Pharisees didn’t think Jesus was very deep either. They just thought He knew how to attract a crowd. You can’t do much with a crowd of people if you don’t know how to attract a crowd

#9 “All they care about is the Weekend Show”

The number 1 reason that people come to church in America is that a friend invites them. And research shows that 7 out of 10 people who don’t attend church in America have never been invited to church. Wow. The easiest way to share Jesus with the people that matter most to you is to invite them to a church that shares the Gospel and gives people the opportunity to respond and say yes to following Jesus.

#10 “They’re really Lousy at Communication”

I got nothing here…yes, churches are notorious for being lousy at communication. Not just large churches but all churches. Size just complicates and exasperates it. Check out this video interview I did with Tony Morgan to learn more about improving communication at your church.


Posted in Leadership

3

What’s Wrong With Big Churches? Part-1

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.


Posted in Leadership

9

3 Reasons Big Churches Keep Getting Bigger

Recently 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. But why?

1. Directional Leadership

There is a shift in thinking that is happening. No longer are pastors simply seen as someone who cares for the flock through providing counseling, marrying, burying, and preaching nice messages that educate people. Rather, more than any time in the history of the church, pastors are beginning to view themselves as directional leaders tasked to move the people of God (the church) from where they are, to where they need to be. Large churches have a tendency to be Staff-led as opposed to Committee-led. They also view leadership as a spiritual gift and build a culture to develop and nurture that gift in others.

2. Organizational Alignment

The larger the church, generally speaking the more focused it is. They know what they do well and what they don’t do well and they play to their strengths. They’ve actually clarified their purpose and as a result they’ve been able to simplify their processes and organize their staffing, budgeting, calendaring, ministries, discipleship strategies, and behaviors around that purpose.

3. Outsider Focused

Large churches fundamentally believe they exist to reach people outside of the faith. They don’t believe the church is for Christians, but the church is Christians and they exist for people who are not here yet. As a result everything they do from style in the worship services and other ministry environments to language that is chosen, guest services and way finding is done with the outsider in mind. They consistently make choices based on who they are going to reach, not who they are going to keep.

What are some other reasons you think large churches keep getting larger? And what keeps small churches small? I’d love to hear your thoughts…leave a comment!


Posted in Leadership