Big is Here to Stay
A friend in Dallas asked me last week, “What’s the reason for megachurches?” That’s an easy one to answer! Since I worked for twelve years with megachurches as President of Leadership Network in what some consider to be the period of largest growth for these churches, I’ve been thinking about his question. Coincidentally, I was with Bob Buford, the founder of Leadership Network, a couple of weeks ago and he told me that while there had been 300 megachurches when we started in 1984 there are now over 3,000 in the United States alone. That’s quite a growth curve.
However, I don’t think my friend was looking for a history lesson as much as a perspective on why we need large churches at all. What makes us grow churches instead of being content with small churches? I started thinking about all the different models we had talked through over those twelve years. For a few years it was the “mall” built on a couple of anchor ministries (worship/music and preaching) with a wide variety of other ministries in between. Later, it was the “big box/category killer” model ala Best Buy or Lowes with hundreds of offerings at commodity prices. Then it was all about small groups – but as many small groups as possible. The form was never fixed but the desire to be big and expanding was a consistent thread. They took whatever form was current and grew it to its limits. Of course, now a new generation is moving church growth toward an Amazon or Facebook model with connecting being the primary value. The pressing challenge is how to use a convening model in a connecting culture.
Some experts say the next generation is not going to value big but I disagree. They may not value a particular model of church but entrepreneurs will always work toward big. It’s in their nature and while the next generation’s “megachurch” will be far different in form than those we witnessed twenty years ago, they will still be big and expanding. They may not invest in buildings or large campuses but whatever form they find they will grow it to the limit and find another. Churches focused on being “missional” will be big missional. Churches focused on small groups will have huge numbers of small groups. Churches focused on investing people and resources outside the country will scale up as fast as they can. It is the nature of the entrepreneur. Trust me on this one.
|Fred Smith||May 9, 2012, 10:28 pm|
|Yes, that is definitely how they are wired and it would be unlikely they would do small groups or house churches or anything else differently than this. That's a good thing. It just so happens that the megachurch movement attracted so many of them at the same time. What will attract them next?|
|Ryan Skoog||May 8, 2012, 10:42 pm|
|You've got entrepreneurs pretty well pegged. They can't help it...but maybe that's how God made them.|