Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Is Bigger Really Better?

I came across this picture while I was doing a little on-line research into the mega church phenomenon. It contained a link that appeared to go to amazon.com, where you could supposedly buy this game. When I clicked the link, it took me to a page that absolutely looked like an amazon.com order page. When I finished reading I was laughing so hard that I thought my sides would split open! It is hilarious! Check it out.

So, why was I researching mega churches? Well, I just received the latest copy of Outreach magazine. It is a special edition, the 4th annual "Top 100 Largest and Fastest Growing Churches" edition. It contains feature stories on some of the largest mega churches, charts of growth, and plenty of articles from Thom Rainer, Ed Stetzer, et.al.

After thumbing through the journal, I was a little bit overwhelmed ... and puzzled. I couldn't help but think, "Is this what we are all truly striving for? Is this why so many pastors climb the church ladder of 'success?'" We'll never have a mega church where I live. We would have to import a lot more people. But I love where I live, and I love my church! Does that mean I am a failure as a church planter and pastor? Should I have more drive and ambition? Can I get it if I go to one of the bazillions of mega church-offered conferences that have ads in the magazine?

We need to think this thing through. Is bigger really better? Are we going to reach our North American culture with mega churches, or small churches, or emergent churches (even detergent churches), or house churches? All groups seem to think that their way is the best way ... the right way.

This entire discussion has tremendous implications upon church planting. What do you think?


Blogger Sarah said...

Okay, that "game" is pretty funny. As I was reading there were a few things that were said that kind of made me go "whoa."

I don't necessarily think that bigger is better. Really I think it's all about the context in which you live. If you live in a place where people are generally relational and like to spend time together in a small, intimate setting than a house church would probably fit better than a large, multi-million dollar building. I think smaller also leads to more opportunities to discipleship and I believe that is one element of the Great Commission that many churches are lacking.

so I guess what I'm saying is that I'm all for small congregations that can easily be split and reproduced.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Bryan Riley said...

When I read your post I kept being reminded of Jesus, when his crowds got really big, He would teach one of His hardest and most perplexing lessons, like "hating" your mother and father. Luke 14. He never seemed that interested in building a mega-establishment after the ways of the world or success as defined by the world. His sole goal was to please His Father and to bring Him glory. One large church may do this and do it well; another may not. Keeping His glory first, seeking His kingdom first, having passion for God and compassion for people first: those things seem to be key.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Geoff Baggett said...

Good stuff, Bryan.

But think about this ... is our recent predisposition to mega churches simply a reflection of our patterns of life in other areas? Where do we shop for our "stuff" anymore ... the local shop, or the Wal-Mart Supercenter?

And another that is suddenly bothering me - what about all of these multiple site churches? What is up with that? Is it a control thing? May be a good idea for my next post. ;)

8:05 AM  
Blogger Bryan Riley said...

Perhaps I am wrong on this, but isn't it the Evangelical Free who start a new church (not another site of the same church) when their membership gets up to 500 or more? What a great concept. It keeps a small body together who really can minister to one another and it looks to multiply and plant new churches as it can.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Michael Jones said...


Who are the Evangelical Free?

I like the idea that the church would split and create an entirely different church, but isn't 500 people still a big church. Maybe I have been in a small church too long, but I like the unity of a smaller group of people. A group of 100 who are unified and working together towards a single cause then aren't they just as effective as 500 people? I just think it makes more sense to me if they would split at 100, then they would have 5 more churches out there reaching the lost.

2:52 PM  

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