Tag Archive - megachurch

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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

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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

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5 Articles that will Help You Make Vision Real

Thank you for making April a great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great staying connected with you through social media and hearing about how helpful different articles have been. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top 5 Posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

#1 When to Add Another Worship Service at Your Church

Many churches are stuck in attendance simply because they haven’t maximized their current facilities and campus. Thinking about adding another worship service at your church? Here are five strategic concepts to consider before you do. Not sure if multiple worship services are right for your church? Check out this blog on Overcoming the Fear of Moving to Multiple Worship Services.

#2 My Interview with 5 Sr. Pastors Leading Multisite Churches of 5,000+

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down and interview 5 Sr. Pastors who are all leading multiste churches ranging in attendance from 5,000 to more than 15,000. Among other things we had a very candid conversation about momentum, multisite, developing young leaders, and the courage it takes to lead at a high level.

#3 5 Reasons I Would Hire You

One of the most enjoyable things I get to do is to recruit and on-board new team members. Hire the right person and the whole team benefits. When you invite the right person to join your team not only is there an infusion of new talent, but also new ideas, fresh eyes, and a new well of experiences to go to. One new hire can literally improve the performance of the entire team. Below are five characteristics that I’m looking for when I’m hiring someone or helping churches make the next right hire. I’m not sure if these are what most high-powered companies, or even what most churches are looking for in their next hires. But if they’re not, they’re making a big mistake.

#4 Church Budgeting Survey

In working with churches across the country one of the reoccurring points of tension that comes up is church budgeting. “How do we build our budget in a manner that is fiscally responsible and at the same time helps us move towards our vision?” “What are standard benchmarks in church world regarding building a healthy church budget?” The truth is while you can find a lot of principles out there about church budgeting there’s not a lot of hard data that is easily accessible for the average church. That’s why I’m conducting some informal research on church budgeting, and I’m hoping that you may be able to help.

#5 “The One Thing” 2014 Ministry Report

I’m pleased to announce that The One Thing 2014 Ministry Report eBook has recently been released! Not just because I wrote a chapter on “Making Vision Real,” but because Darren Herbold took the time to mine out some great insights from some of the best church leaders on the scene today. Subscribe to my blog posts to get your free copy!


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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My Interview with 5 Sr. Pastors Leading Multisite Churches of 5,000+ Pt-2

I recently sat down with 5 Sr. Pastors who are all leading Multisite Churches ranging from 5,000 to more than 15,000. Here’s some of what they had to say regarding church leadership. Miss Part-1 of this post? Follow this link to get caught up on what they had to say about what it takes for “Young leaders to earn the right be heard and succeed.”

Question #2 “What are some indicators that momentum is moving the wrong direction and how do you turn the tide?”

Linn Winters: This is that part of leadership that has an awful lot of art to it. This is why you can’t put a diagram in a book and say this is when momentum gets lost. But the best way I can describe it is the church is a dinosaur. It is this big behemoth of a thing and it intuitively wants to sit down, it wants to rest. And the problem is if you ever let it sit down getting it to get up and move again is a horrific challenge. So better to have a tiny bit of momentum headed in a certain direction than to ever let it sit down. Because you guys have seen churches who have let the dinosaur sit down and were never able to recover that moment. But what I would say that as you go back and try and tackle momentum…because all of us have had to do this in a department, in a division of the church, or church wide…is that the thing I think that happens too often as leaders is we see the big problem. We think if we could take that hill 80% of the problem we’re dealing with right now would be solved…by taking that hill. And intuitively as leaders many of us try and take the biggest hill and solve the biggest problem in the room. And the problem is once the dinosaur has slowed down or sat down, the dinosaur no longer has confidence that it can take that hill. It does not believe you, that it can take that big hill. And I think in that moment, you and I are much better served as leaders to ask the dinosaur, “Hey what’s the biggest problem you see?” Because in this moment all you’re trying to do is get the dinosaur to move. You don’t even care what direction the dinosaur moves. And then once you get a little momentum, then you’re going to turn the dinosaur in the right direction. So an example of that would be, I think a lot of guys go into churches, they’re going to be turning that church around, and they can see they need to redo the auditorium or change the whole leadership culture. They can see the big pieces. But if you went to the church, the average person in the church is horrified to take that hill with you. You don’t have the confidence or the clout to do it. And the most powerful thing you can do is to ask that church, that division, that ministry segment what’s the hill you think we can take? And they’re going to come back with something really impressive like paint the nursery. And you’re going to go…that doesn’t even hit my radar! But what great leaders understand is that isn’t the issue. The issue is that I’ve got to get the dinosaur to move. And powerful leaders embrace this, they read the temperature of the room and they paint the nursery. And they go the Elder Board and they get the money to paint the nursery, and they get the men of the church to come down on a Saturday and paint the nursery. And now the nursery is painted, and what do the women of the church say? Oh, our Sr. Pastor is the smartest Sr. Pastor in the whole world. He painted the nursery. And now as they go home, because they have their freshly painted nursery, what are they saying to their husbands…that guy is the man! And what you’re doing is you can now go back and say what’s the next hill? And you’re building confidence and momentum with simple wins until you can go and take that big hill.

Don Wilson: The purpose of a leader is to define reality and the problem is with many of our churches that are growing, we’ll stand up here and tell you how it’s growing, but the truth is we really don’t know. Because there are some God things going on that you can’t put 1-2-3 to in my experience. So the struggle is a lot of times if you don’t know why you’re growing and it stops, you won’t know how to get it growing again. And if your church is growing you’re not as good as you think you are, and if you’re church is declining you’re not as bad as you think you are. We’re all in the size of churches that we’re no longer a canoe we’re a cruise ship. It takes a lot longer to turn a cruise ship around than a canoe. And so the danger with momentum is once you lose it, you can work hard, but you may not see any movement for 12-18 months. And that’s where I think a lot of people get disenchanted because they say your ideas aren’t working. So I think one of the toughest things in leadership and momentum is that you might be growing now, but it might be a false growth.

Continue Reading…


Posted in Leadership

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5 Articles to Help Your Church Make Vision Real

Thank you for helping make November one of the best months ever here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s great to connect with you on this blog and through social media. I’m always glad to hear that the content has been helpful. You made these the top 5 Posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

#1 8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at Your Church

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering. This is a critical issue for churches to figure out. The reason why this has to be a front-burner issue is because at the heart of it, volunteering is an essential component of the discipleship process in someone’s life. Plainly put, volunteering is discipleship. Understanding that, here are 8 reasons people aren’t volunteering in your church…and subsequently aren’t growing in their relationship with God.

#2 Early Warning Signs Your Church is in Trouble

Many churches have a tendency to measure attendance and money as their primary indicators for success, and not necessarily always in that order. There are a lot of other indicators that churches can measure to understand if they’re winning or not (baptisms, 1st time guests, and how many people are in bible studies just to name a few). Early indicators that a church is in trouble are often more difficult to detect however. Similar to the way many life threatening diseases behave a church can look healthy on the outside while wasting away on the inside. And like a life threatening disease it can be very difficult to detect. Here are a few early indicators your church should be paying attention to:

#3 3 Reasons Why 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?

#4 Why Churches Refuse to Change

In the “real world,” change is normal, it’s expected, and it’s even celebrated! When your team wins the Super Bowl no one ever looks around and complains about the stadium being too full. When your business takes ground and expands no one ever complains about experiencing success. When a new child is born into a family no grandparent complains about having to buy more Christmas presents. Change like this is celebrated. So much so, that we go around and show pictures of our new grandchild to everyone, we leverage the success of our business, and we buy t-shirts and other paraphernalia from the winning football team.

In the church it’s different. Even if it means growing, reaching more people, planting a new church, taking a risk, or even simply making the right change so that the church can be more effective with it’s mission; most churches avoid change like the plague. Here are a few reasons why:

#5 How to Keep Your Team When the Game is Changing

In any growing church or organization there are going to be moments where the team that got you where you are, will not have the ability to get you where you need to go. This usually becomes an incredibly painful and difficult moment. In fact many churches get stuck here because they refuse to address the issue in an appropriate manner. What do you do when staff members begin to hit a leadership lid? Do you have any other course of action to take besides replacing them? How do you navigate these moments? The options below should help:


Posted in Leadership
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