Do mega churches do mega ministry?

I had an interesting conversation recently with a man who attends a local mega church. Well, the church is about 1000 people, so it’s not quite “mega” (Which I think is defined as 2,000+ in attendance). 

He was challenging my decision to follow Jesus outside the four walls of the church building, and had the usual objections: 

Him: Why would you leave Christ’s church?

Me: I didn’t leave it. I just practice church differently than you do. 

Him: But how do you use your spiritual gifts?

Me: In a multitude of ways, none of which require my butt to be in a pew on Sunday morning. 

Him: But Christians are to live in community. Where is your community?

Me: First, church attendance does not necessarily equal community, but second, I live in deep community with other people like myself who also do not sit in pews on Sunday morning. 

Anyway, the conversation went on like this for some time. At one point though, he said this: 

Him: But you could be accomplishing so much more for the Kingdom of God if you were part of a large group of people. Sure, your small community can accomplish a few small things, but imagine if you were all working together with thousands of others! Your work would be multiplied! You would see exponential growth! 

I told him it was a good point, and one that I would consider. 

multiply your ministry

I have since considered his point … and I would like your input on how you might respond to such a question. Here are my points. What can you add?

1. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed

First, I have great trouble with this mindset that only big things are worthwhile.

Jesus constantly modeled that the small things, the unimportant people, the little children, the cup of cold water, the tiny mustard seed, the one act of faith, the shameful, the foolish, and the insignificant, … these are the things that mattered to God and where God was most at work. 

Sure, Jesus performed some large-scale miracles, but it seems that as Jesus progressed in His ministry, He went smaller and smaller; not larger and larger. If Jesus had wanted to, He could have had thousands of followers at His back after 3 years of ministry. But this is not what He wanted. …So why is this what we want?

Even Jesus’ parable of the tiny mustard seed shows this. It is not uncommon to hear pastors say, “See? This church started as a tiny little group of people meeting in my living room. But now, it is thousands of people with a multi-million dollar budget. The tiny mustard seed has grown into a giant tree!” 

It sounds good, but it’s plain wrong. Yes, the tiny mustard seed grows into a large tree so that even the birds can sit in its branches, but if we ever say our particular church or ministry is “the large tree” we have completely misunderstood what Jesus was saying.

mega ministry

What grows into a large tree? The Kingdom of God does … not my little corner of it. No matter how large we become, our part in the Kingdom will always be small. 

2. Fuzzy Ministry Math

Here is often how these comparisons go: 

You and your small group did a good thing there helping that poor family in town pay their rent this month. But at our church, we raised enough money to build an entire orphanage in Africa and staff it for an entire year! 

Sure, you’re small group of six people spent $300 to help that family, but if you could have joined that money with the $250,000 raised by our church this year to build that orphanage, imagine how your investment in the Kingdom would have multiplied! 

Initially, such a comparison sounds compelling. It’s true … helping one family pay rent for one month does not sound as impressive as building and staffing an African orphanage to help rescue, feed, and teach orphans for a year. 

But if you begin to crunch the numbers, things look quite different. If 6 people raised $300 in one month to help one family, then this comes to about $50 per person per month. Who’s to say they won’t do something similar next month? And the month after that? Over the course of one year, this is about $600 per person. 

Meanwhile, if you take the $250,000 that church raised for the orphanage, and divide it between the 1000 people in the church, this comes to $250 per person. 

Obviously, I’m just making these numbers up, but this is how these ministry comparison’s are often done. The tiny little ministry a small group does for a local need is compared with some giant project that a large group does for some other (usually foreign) ministry. But if you really start to compare apples to apples, you will almost always find that the small groups are more generous. 

But what about what is accomplished? Isn’t that important? Yeah, let’s talk about that?

3. Where’s the Ministry Love?

Here is the main concern I have with big ministry projects done by big churches. Usually (but not always!), because of the large scale of the project, there is relatively little personal interaction between the “givers” and the “receivers.” 

Instead of six people helping out a family across the street, whose names are known, whose needs are obvious, and where relationships can get developed, 2,000 people give money into a giant pot to help a nameless “need” in some other part of town or across the country. Then, after administrative costs and overhead are deducted out of the money that comes in, a team of people goes out to perform the ministry to the massive group whose “need” is trying to be met. 

But because the ministry team has to meet the “need” of such a large group of people, there is very little opportunity to get to know the people. Very little relationship building is accomplished.

Sure, bellies are filled, buildings are raised, classes are taught, and books are distributed, but how many long-term relationships were built? How many names were learned? How many conversations were had? 

I sometimes think that the way some churches define ministry is not always identical to the way Jesus defines ministry. 

If you write a check for $500 to help build an orphanage in Africa … but don’t know your neighbor’s first name, what good is it? 

If you attend every mission’s conference your church hosts, but have never learned about the marital problems of your coworker, what good is it? 

If you know your Bible forward and backward and memorize 365 verses a year, but don’t know the names of the children on your street, what good is it? 

Look, everybody has different ministries and different goals, but I just get tired of having to defend small, one-on-one, loving-my-neighbor ministry to people who think that the only true ministry is one that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, involved thousands of people, and takes place on another continent. 

Ministry does not become more spiritual when it is baptized in salt water (when it takes place across the sea).

If you are not loving your neighbors right now, you cannot write a big check and call it “ministry.” 

Okay… so you can weigh in below. Have you ever encountered this “Go big or go home” mentality when it comes to ministry, and that small groups of believers would be wiser to pool their time and resources with large churches so that their ministry effectiveness can be multiplied? If so, how do you respond?

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  1. says

    I used to be very much against mega-churches. Today, while they’re still not my cup of coffee, I have come to the point where I can see their usefulness as one part of the body of Christ. There are certainly many shortcomings to the mega-church format. But there are also some things mega-churches can do that small churches simply cannot—primarily those things requiring an excessive amount of funding.

    I think God uses extreme mega-churches, tiny house churches, and everywhere in-between for the advancement of his kingdom. We all fill different roles and purposes. As long as we are committed to following Jesus, he will use us wherever we are. While I would not want to be part of a mega-church myself, I’m not going to speak against them any more.

    Just my thoughts on the matter. :)

    • says

      Yes, I think there is some usefulness to them as well. I think they do great good for many people. I think that many people benefit in wonderful ways from mega church ministry.

      So I wasn’t trying to condemn mega churches or say that they shouldn’t exist or that people shouldn’t attend one.

      I just get tired of how some (but not all!) in the mega church crowd say that big ministry is best, large crowds are more effective, and to really reach our culture, you need glamor and glitz. This post is just trying to push back a little bit.

  2. says

    This is great, Jeremy! Like Chuck’s comment, I agree that mega, small and house churches all have a role to play in the body of Christ.

    Your friend is right that a church of 1,000 or 10,000 can do some things really well, like raise more money and do bigger projects. But 1,000 or 10,000 people spread out over hundreds of smaller churches and ministries can do just as much ministry (and some of it in better ways, for the reasons you’ve mentioned) than when we’re all clumped together in one big congregation.

    The body of Christ should always be a matter of both/and, not either/or.

    • says

      Yes! Let all of us agree that all forms are important and allowed. I am more than fine with saying that mega churches are an integral part of what God is doing in the world. Same with small churches and house churches.

      But what I rarely hear is the same thing being said from mega churches. Rarely do I hear a mega church pastor say, “Hey, if this place is too big for you, that’s cool. Try attending a small church, or a home church. Or better yet, try not attending church at all for a while!”

      I think I have heard Bruxy Cavey almost say something like this, but I would love to hear it said more.

      • says

        That’s a great point, Jeremy. I actually heard a megachurch speaker not long ago talk about how God uses big and small churches. Then said “It’s OK for a church to be small…” paused for a moment, then added “…for a little while.” Ugh!

        • says

          Ugh is right!

          I am at a Christian conference right now (ugh!), and the speaker this morning said the same thing. He noted that church attendance in our region is down 10% over the past year, and then went on to say “It’s okay … but here’s how we get our numbers back up!” …What?

        • Billy says

          I’m from Sydney Australia and all mega-churches get a bad wrap. Whether overseas or Hillsong here. I don’t want to get into a discussion about specific mega-churches, I liked your article but it was more from the comments posted that I would like some thoughts on.

          It seems to be a general consensus that God will use churches of all sizes. Although this particular thread made me wonder.
          Doesn’t a small church that remain small mean that it isn’t growing? I understand that small churches play an important role but isn’t it a problem if it is not making disciples that make disciples.

          Splitting the church is one option, I wouldn’t say it is any better or any worse than not splitting the church. But this still means that little churches are meant to grow.

  3. alan says

    Not against mega churches due to size. . . if so gonna hate to be before the Lord in heaven. If every one is following the Lord and faithful, the body can build itself in love. Only once have been in a mega church but apart from living faith, find that we don’t do large well. . . run things like a business and the few who are active lead the many who get lost in the whole thing. Maybe the worst thing is that it can run on its own and the need to rely on the Lord for resource in him gets lost cause mega has enough of its own. . . production values and preacher performance can become such a feature that no one notices that the living presence of God is missing. More a heart issue than size. . . small can do flesh too.

    • says

      True points! Some small groups are more proud of being small than large groups are of being large.

      I know for a fact that I struggle with pride about how I “do” church. It is something I must constantly guard against (and often fail).

      • alan says

        Hey man, not sure where wanting the best becomes thinking our best is the best for everyone else or is even the best at all. Possible that other brothers’ and sisters’ are following the Lord as well. . . why is it so difficult to leave judgment of the Lord’s servants up to the Lord? Thinking when we all are before the Lord we’ll be surprised at how faithful our brothers and sisters hearts were, and how hard our hearts were in judgment toward them. If brothers and sisters are the Lord’s, they are the Lord’s.

  4. says

    “Look, everybody has different ministries and different goals, but I just get tired of having to defend small, one-on-one, loving-my-neighbor ministry to people who think that the only true ministry is one that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, involved thousands of people, and takes place on another continent.”

    I think this is a really important point. How many divisions are created, and judgements made, because christians have the mindset that we should all be doing the same thing, in the same way?

    As one who is also learning to be church outside the institution, I can fully relate to that feeling of fatigue at having to defend the decision. I have come to the conclusion that one of the best things we can do for each other is have the grace to let our brother or sister run their race with God and not insist they should walk ours!

    • says

      Great point (and one I struggle to follow myself). I want everyone to follow the same path I am on, but need to remember that each person is following the path God has them on, and I need to trust Him and the Holy Spirit to do their work in these other people, just as they are at work in me.

  5. Jonathon says

    Group dynamics versus group size.
    High touch versus high touch.


    Compare the 25 largest churches in the world, using congregation membership size, with the twenty-five lagest churches in the world, using average Sunday morning attendance.

  6. says

    I left the church, where I was a ‘member’ in 2112. God showed me that for years I’d made almost an ‘idol’ out of the many ministries in the huge worldwide mega-denomination. I’ve been to so many meetings at the ‘main’ mega church. The music was amazingly anointed, yes. But I knew they’d never use the many songs that God gave me; in fact in our satellite church in my city, when I asked about music the subject was smoothly changed. The Pastor and his wife ‘loved’ me as best they knew how,and I loved them (ditto) but we’d never sat down and had a real conversation. Like many other leaders, I was told “We know each other by the Spirit, and that’s the most important way to know someone.”
    In November of 2011 I was ACCIDENTLY dragged behind a car….my jacket cord lodged in the door unknownst to me or the driver, who drove off to find a parking spot. She finally heard me screaming, stopped and came around but couldn’t help me get up. Two big men drove up separately, saw us, and carried me to her car & we headed to the hospital. The church sent flowers and told me to stay in touch…but I never talked to the pastor (who came back from Israal the day of the accident.) again.
    Once I was out of the hospital, I never went back. Before the accident, an old boyfriend from 15 years earlier began attending that church…and calling me saying God spoke to him about he and I. My husband had just died in 2010, and I wanted no part in any relationship–another reason I left. I also got so tired of hearing the same cliche’s like “Can I here an Amen?” over and over. (God told me that when HE wanted me to shout Amen, I’d ‘FEEL IT!!!” and agree…not just to feed a speakers ego or need. So many times if something profound was spoken from the pulpet, I’d be silently thanking God and thinking about it only to be interrupted by “C’mon, can’t you shout Amen????” (grrr!!!!) In the ‘mother church’ (lol) the senior pastor somehow disappeared after the service, and many people went for years never meeting him. (I did meet his wife though, after about 20 years–she was wonderful) I was in all the prayer/intercession groups (I was called to prayer and a few other things) and several times one of the other pray-ers sort of intimated that ours was “The” church of the city, and I’d always then start praying for every God called church in my city. It’s been a long hard road belonging to 4 different churches in that Spirit filled denomination. I now go, when I can, to a very small church with less than 20 people. There is no Praise/worship “team” so I can actually hear myself and all the others singing! (That’s something God put on my heart years ago that HE wanted to hear His people sing!) Before I left that church I lost part of my hearing in one ear because of the inordinately loud LOUD music. I’d told the pastors, and they said, well just go sit in the office during praise and worship. (But I LOVED Praise & worship!! I even loved LOUD!! Just not THAT loud) (I felt God ask me if I’d bring a newborn baby into that loud music?” Of course not. Our ears are delicately made too.
    I felt bad leaving, I did. But I’ve never spent SO much time in the word and praying with my neighbors!! I’ve had many miraculously answered prayers in my life (Like “finding $500 behind an old painting the same day my Mom prayed for $4,500)–long story. And after I left, God kept blessing me. I am into TRUE prosperity which has not a lot to do with money money money! I still get letters in the mail weekly asking for my “best gift” (another cliche). I toss them out without opening. I’ll donate, if I can, to disabled veterans or paraplegic veterans, but my limited finances makes my “best gift” around $5 or 10 dollars when I can, which isn’t regularly. I got so so so so tired of Malachi 3. And I think God did too!!
    I said all that to say this: I liked your column today A LOT!! It encourages me to know I’m not a “flake” or a “church hopper” or “a murmur-er and complainer”…..Thank you!

    • says

      You are following Jesus wherever He leads! Keep it up.

      There is some initial guilt when we stop attending church, but after a while, I find it transforms into relief and freedom. There is a newfound sense of freedom in being able to love our neighbors without feeling like you to follow up by asking them to attend your church. You can just love them like Jesus, and as the conversations come up, tell them about Jesus as well. No strings attached.

      I often find that people are happy to talk about Jesus, but don’t want to do “the whole church thing.” I always tell them, “You can follow and serve Jesus without attending church.” This sort of comment usually leads to great conversations about church and following Jesus.

      • TyLa R. says

        Just a short reply–In my post above I meant to write I found $5000 the same day my mom prayed for $4,500. (I’d mistakenly wrote $500) Now that sounds like more of a miracle!!

        My dear Mom didn’t even know about tithing. (and I was a new Christian in 1979, so I didn’t either.)

  7. Soli Deo Gloria says

    I attend a mega-church. You’re right Jeremy — 2000+ congregants is the definition of a megachurch. I’ve crunched a few of my church’s numbers and here’s what I got:

    1) Last year my church brought in close to $2M. 82% went to “staff and facilities”. That’s a $1.6M clubhouse.
    2) Charity watch organizations give an ‘F’ to organizations that have “staff and facilities” expenses over 75%.
    3) My church is listed with the IRS as a public charity. Most churches are.
    4) The 80/20 rule reigns supreme — 20% of the congregation pays 80% of the bill.
    5) The average tithe at my church is 3%, which is the national average.
    6) My church started as a house church about 13 years ago. Today it has about 2300 members. Several months ago, at my small group, I asked the question, “why did the pastor decide to forgo the house church model and create a traditional church?” Someone said, “because he wanted to reach more people!” I responded, “If he kept the house church model and split it into two groups every 6 months, and those groups grew and split likewise, how big do you think his church would be now?” Shoulders shrugged. “22 million people” I responded.
    7) There’s a church planter in China named Peter Xu. He doesn’t actually plant churches; he trains people to plant house churches. Over the last 10+ years it is estimated that his “church” is 20 million strong.

    • says

      Wow. Those numbers are revealing, but I think they are about normal for most churches and staff. When I was a pastor of a smaller church, we still spent about 75% on staff and buildings.

      Don’t cause too many waves at your church!

      • Soli Deo Gloria says

        Yup, don’t want to make waves at the church! Although I’ve been a baptized Christian for only 5 years, I’ve been serving in worship ministries the whole time. I’ve seen and experienced enough to know how to keep the waves to a minimum.

        Thinking about the argument that megachurch members can do more…as I stated in my post, these churches have a high overhead. The argument could be made that this overhead is used to spread the Word through the church, but are churches really that efficient in building the Kingdom of God here on earth? The megachurch Christian is burdened by a high overhead (75% – 90%). This leaves little in the way of funds to help outside the church. The non-burdened Christian has a much larger financial capacity to minister outside the confines of his/her church.

        I also have a problem with “outsourcing charity”, i.e. writing a check to pay someone else to do the heavy lifting. In some instances it’s appropriate (giving money to a shelter, paying someone’s rent, etc.), but I suspect that a lot of Christians sooth their conscious’ by writing a check to their church and assume that their part in building the Kingdom is done.

    • jonathon says

      The half life of a home church is eighteen months.

      Rather than plan to split every six months, plan to split every eighteen months.
      The difference is that with eighteen months, there is enough time to train the leaders of the new groups.

      The exception is when the church, by design, spins off home-churches every three to six or months. The building is there for “community purposes”, more than “worship purposes”.
      This requires that the “mother congregation” be a teaching/training one. (In _I am a Church Member_ parlance, the individual member commitment is to form a new house-church within three to five years.)

      In most places, an annual growth rate of less than 5% indicates the congregation is dying on the limb.(IOW, if that 2,000 average in the congregation church has less than 100 converts per year, it is dying. Converts, not people switching churches, nor lapsed Christians coming back to the fold of Christ.)

    • Ward Kelly says

      I attend a 1000+ mega-church style church. After attending for a short time I asked to see a budget, and as with your church between the facilities and salaries it ate up almost 90% of the budget. The sickening fact is that their outreach budget was around 1%. The weekly sheeple beat down for money is exhausting. Videos on tithing. Long winded explanations on biblical tithing. Explanations on giving on-line, by envelope, or by bucket. Explanations on why the are helping the congregation fulfill their duty to God. Breakdowns on a person by person average household income and how much donations should be coming in…I have become quite cynical of organized religion…and I don’t want to be so. If a church exists solely to pay the staff and the mortgage then it’s time to close the doors.

      Jesus ministered with twelve and changed the world. He could have come and set up a mega-ministry, but he chose a small, intimate ministry. Was Jesus out of step? Was his ministry a failure?

  8. Donovan says

    I absolutely agree with you Jeremy. This has been on my heart for a while now, I believe the purpose of church is to be communal. Having been involved in church planting, I have seen how communal small churches are, how much the members have access to each other. As the church grows this becomes less and less, we either break away within ourselves as sects of believers within that congregation. In no time we do not know who is who in the church except for the “big shot”, the believers who are popular in the congregation. The body of Christ should always remain compact.

    • says

      Thanks, Donavan. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and everybody’s path is a bit different. We all long for community, but I think that as soon as we try to create community, it collapses, or ceases to be community. Keep moving forward!

  9. says

    “Him: But you could be accomplishing so much more for the Kingdom of God if you were part of a large group of people. Sure, your small community can accomplish a few small things, but imagine if you were all working together with thousands of others! Your work would be multiplied! You would see exponential growth!”

    Ha! That’s an argument I would quibble over. And your first point, Jeremy, shows clearly that from biblical testimony Jesus was not at all interested in something BIG. Furthermore, I wonder what kind of definition of the “Kingdom of God” Mr. Him (:-) had in mind, for it is written,

    “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Lk 17:20-21 KJV)

    So, if we see some churches or men do great things, here donate much money for the poor, it does not necessarily mean that God told them to do so since even the Angel of light (Satan) plays the part of Mr. Goody Two-Shoes, as we can see for example when Mary anointed Jesus at Bethany.

    “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (Jn 12:4-6 ESV)

    The difference between Mary and Judas Iscariot was simply that Mary listened to God so she could know what to do – here anoint Jesus – and Judas listened to his own evil heart, that is, to Satan’s suggestions. By the way, John was the only apostle who revealed that he could also look into others’ hearts as Jesus did who always knew what men really thought about all things. Maybe, John was given that prophetic gift before all the other disciples since he was closer to Jesus (John as “that disciple whom Jesus loved” and who leaned on Jesus’ breast).

    In closing I would say that even many worldly men seem to have a “mega ministry” because they help the poor to a large extent. It is not our job to judge anyone whether he or she works for God or not. However, for those who want to know whether they serve God themselves, they can be sure that God will nudge or even urge them to help others and after doing so, they will forget about it completely. They will be happy because they received their spiritual reward inwardly, i.e., the praise of God who sees our very heart. Yet the praise of men they won’t get at all because they won’t blare it out if they helped somebody. The biblical description of that divinely ordained self-forgetfulness is to be found in the following questions of the “sheep” at the Final Judgment.

    “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ ” (Mt 25:37-39 ESV)

    They did what they did unknowingly because they were listening to His voice more than to any other (Jn 10:4-5; 27).

    “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Mt 25:40 ESV)

    • says

      You are right. It is not my job to judge whether or not someone is serving God in the Kingdom. I fall into that trap a lot. Sigh.

      I just get tired of getting condemned by the “Mr. Hims” of Christianity for not using my gifts and abilities to help “multiply” the ministries of a mega church somewhere.

      I want to say, “But I am using my gifts and abilities for the Kingdom of God … the biggest (and only) church there is!” I guess that is what this post is about more than anything…

  10. Sam says

    The few people I know who attend mega churches here in San Diego tell me that they go because:
    1) They like the their pastor’s preaching (Most of those pastors have radio ministries)
    2) They like the other high class guest speakers
    3) They like the bookstores, cafes and so on the church has
    4) They can blend into the crowd

    They do not go to build relationships with or to be supported by other people. The say they know almost none of the other people who attend the church. They also like the idea that they do not need to get involved. They go to watch and listen. One couple tells us, however, that in spite of all the great sermons, programs and extras (think bookstores, etc.) they grew tired of it all after two or three years, and now they attend only spasmodically when something is happening they want to see or hear.

    • says

      Interesting. Those are necessarily bad reasons, I suppose. They just don’t live up to the claims of what church attendance proponents argue for. I think this is one reason some people move to smaller churches, because it is easier to connect with other people.

    • Soli Deo Gloria says

      That’s my experience at the megachurch I attend Sam. My church is known in town as a top-notch Bible teaching church and the pastors/speakers are generally very good and stick to solid teaching of scripture. The congregation is very clique-ish so I only know a few people and I’m not involved in any of their ministries. I prefer to do ministry work outside the church in the community and amongst my friends, places and people where my efforts and resources will make a larger impact. I do pay the pastor for his services, but not the 10% he would like. In short, the church I attend regularly is just a piece of my walk with Jesus.

  11. says

    As a matter of fact “megachurch” is a sickness, kind of abnormal growth of the ekklesia. For me, megachurch reflects the economic trends of our time: it is religious elephantiasis. It is not because Yah uses it that it has His approval. In megachurches, you have a big leading team, no Body; in megachurches, you have a huge organisation, no Family. Where’s the Body of Christ? Where’s the Family of YHWH Elohim? Nowhere.
    A megachurch is a wide screen behind which believers can hide, and avoid the responsabilities of being part of a genuine spiritual family according to the Head, our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
    Megachurches are very helpful to millions of believers living more a kind of Ponzi scheme than the real call of the Assemblies of Saints. Being in a megachurch is comfortable (you pay for that), is socially cool (you’re part of a huge movement), is spiritually a neuroleptic (your Senior Pastor tells you what the order of your ideas should be), etc. Megachurch is a curse to christianity. It’s a mighty Trojan Horse helping to transplant better the world within the Body of Christ with less reject risk. Megachurch is a Mall with a plastic Cross and plenty unread bibles… Megachurch is a shame for christianity, a wrinkle factory for the Bride.

    • says

      Well, I wouldn’t call it a sickness necessarily. I agree that it is a reflection of our consumeristic, bigger-is-better culture. But I don’t think that makes is wrong or bad, necessarily. One thing that mega churches do well is reach people in a consumeristic, bigger-is-better culture…

  12. Tony Papilli says

    If the church of today understood the difference or the importance of growing disciples versus growing church members, non of this would really matter. The cross emphasizes losing yourself and your individualism, but most teach today “be all you can be” or grow in spiritual disciplines as an individual, while with holding the real body of Christ and the true mechanism that was divinely designed to get us there.

  13. Rj Naef says

    We attended a Word of Faith Mega Church late 90s into 2k
    I got sick with cancer and had extensive surgery and always heard how Our Church helped people with food and or cash for rent just for a month of so
    They gave us 4 bags of junkfood, cookies, cakes potato chips hershy’s syrup
    and many other very healthy items.
    I seen and heard the line of crap about helping your community while screwing members of the church
    Also I did not have enough faith and thats why I developed cancer
    Never again will I listen to such bc again we went back to my original church a small Catholic Church and refuse to watch any mega churches or attend them

    • says

      Wow. So sad. I am sorry that happened to you.

      There are hypocrites everywhere, of course. I have several hypocritical leanings, which I am working on fixing, but I know that if/when I do, more will pop up.

      Aren’t there Catholic mega churches (with 2000+ in attendance)?

  14. says

    Mega can be good, but the opposite is also true. You can reach a large number of people with the truth – but, the same happens with error.

    Billy Graham is on record saying that great evangelistic gatherings to which he has devoted his life will not do the job, but one on one will!

    Your reference to neighbors is so spot-on, Jeremy. Isn’t it sad that in a street with 10 houses, the six or seven families belonging to a church probably attend six or seven different churches. I have no doubt that the true biblical model is for the families in that street to be an ecclesia in Christ.

    • says

      Wow. I didn’t know Billy Graham said that. I do know they tried to encourage one-on-one discipleship follow-up for people who came forward at his crusades.

      • says

        I did not make a note of the exact source when I read it , but it is a quote I have had special appreciation for over a long time. The exact words I jotted down was: “Mass crusades, to which I have committed my life, will never finish the job; but one to one will.”

      • jonathon says

        It is in one of the training manuals that his organization uses to theach/train the people that will counsel those who come down the steps after the altar call.

        He has made similar statements in both Christian and secular media interviews.

  15. Mr. Poet says

    I define “church” as a community of believers operating in the fivefold ministry, moving in the gifts. This does not need to happen inside four walls of a “church building.” I attended a house church for many years. Our pastor was ordained by apostle who himself was an elder of a house church. But…

    …then my pastor moved. We met in his house. That was about three years ago. The plan was to eventually meet in the house of another family who attended frequently, but like I said, that was about three years ago.

    So…I have been “visiting” other churches. I have not “joined” any of them. I emailed my pastor today to ask if we would ever meet again.

    In other words, I am visiting churches that meet in buildings because that is where the Christians I know meet. Along the same lines, I have a hard time getting anyone to do anything with me…ever. People are either too busy, or for whatever reason, they don’t want to do whatever it is I want to do. So…I go to churches in buildings right now, or I don’t “go to church.”

    • says

      That is great! I think church buildings are a great place to meet other Christians and get to know people. So keep it up as long as you want! You are right that so many people are so busy today. I struggle with that myself.

  16. Lyle says

    There are two types of churches that I have seen in my Christian walk. Some are large or the mega-church type and other are small more community like. Each one has their own identity and expectation of the attending members.

    I have seen in some churches (usually larger ones) a corporate identity that goes along with the ministries of the church. Everyone takes pride in the works of their church be that a backpack giveaway, soul winning, feeding the poor, or all of the other church programs. They feel they are doing what Jesus commanded because their church has all of these ministries. I believe that most of these churches have the sense of community wrong. Instead of activating members of the church to go out into the community and serve there is mentalities that if you want to serve you need to be in one of the endorsed ministries. The community they served is made up of only those that come to them or their event. These churches have more or the corporate mentality then a community one.

    Whereas other churches (usually smaller ones) I have seen a diametric opposite approach. They want their members to reach out into the community. Everyone is activated to stop letting someone else serve for them but take Jesus’ commandment to server one another seriously. They are pushed out into their neighborhoods to serve everyone they touch.

    There is a plethora of churches like the two that I mention and some that have a combination of both. I believe that Jesus asked us to server everyone we touch because we are followers of him and in him we are to find our identity not in the group we belong to.

    • says

      Yes, those are two of the main types of Churches, to be sure. Thanks! It all comes down, as you say, to serving everyone we come into contact with. That was how Jesus lived, right?

  17. says

    Excellent blog! Why do people automatically believe that when Jesus declared He will build His church that He meant numerically? Why not read it as His building us up individually into His image since we are the Church?

  18. Ian says

    I’m late to the game so I apologize but I encountered the “go big or go home” argument in a little bit different setting a couple of weeks ago. Someone mentioned to a friend of mine that it was more eternally significant if she would become a missionary that if she became a stay-at-home mom.

    I think my answer to this person would be the same to the person who says that mega-churches are superior…being a missionary doesn’t glorify God…being part of or planting a mega church doesn’t glorify God. Obedience glorifies God. If God is asking you to become a missionary, your obedience to that reflects his glory. If god asks you to be a stay-at-home mom, your obedience reflects his glory. The same with the churches. If God has selected you to be the pastor or be involved with a mega-church, obey! If he has asked you to be the spiritual leader of a church whose membership never makes it above 5, obey!

    Only through our obedience to His will do glorify Him. And when we glorify God, it is eternally significant.

    • says

      That is a great illustration, and you are right, it is the same mentality.

      My wife and I were talking yesterday, and she said, “You know, the hardest ministry on earth is staying home with your children, and feeling insignificant and unappreciated for doing so. But if every Christian parent in the world makes their children their first priority, the world would have been “saved” by now.”

      I think she is right.

  19. says

    After reading this post, I’m deeply encouraged and inspired to moving forward and forward the ministry the Lord has started here. One can’t avoid feeling alone when you are working on a pioneering ministry. Your article refreshes my outlook. Yes, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Thank you for posting your thoughts.

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