"Mega Church"

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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby natman » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:07 pm

Ramblinman wrote:
natman wrote:... That said, the church we currently attend is well beyond 2000 members and appears to be growing.


Nathan, I met a hard shell Baptist from the foothills north of here and he said that it was standard practice for them to split when they reached 100. One half would move out, call a new pastor, find a new place to worship down the road, and grow until they reach 100, etc, etc. Not my choice, but everyone knew everyone there!


Most Baptist churches, even those in large associations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, are independent, making their own rules, as long as they comply with the greater associations rules. Here in Texas, there are MANY Southern Baptist and Texas Baptist churches that would be considered "mega-churches" by the standards mentioned here.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:08 am

I ran across this article and remembered this strip.....

What's Right About Megachurches

As the saying goes, “The world is going to hell in a hand basket.”There’s never been a greater challenge for world evangelism, there are plenty of social problems like hunger and homelessness we face here in the United States, Christians are being marginalized more than ever, religious persecution is rampant on a global basis, and that’s just the beginning. But what are we still debating in the Church today?

Megachurches.
Hard to believe but I sometimes think we Christians spend more time criticizing large churches than anything else. Are there problems in 2,000+ member churches? Of course. But I work with churches of all sizes for a living, and I can tell you that for every case of shallow teaching, bad theology, leadership failures, financial improprieties, or whatever the criticism du jour happens to be, I can point to a long list of 50+ member churches guilty of the same things.

From the perspective of a person passionately interested in how Christians engage today’s culture, here’s some reasons I think it’s time for a moratorium on megachurch criticism:


1. You had a bad experience at a megachurch? Grow up. There are plenty of bad experiences to be had in small churches too. Size doesn’t make for bad experiences, people do, and I have yet to find a church without people. In the last month or so, there’s been a rash of negative stories of pastors screwing up. From what I’ve read, none have come from a megachurch; in fact, they were all leading very small churches. Fallen humanity is no respecter of church size.


2. Megachurches are not as shallow as you think. As Roger Olson writes on his blog, “Baylor sociologist Rodney Stark’s (research study) ‘What Americans Really Believe‘ lauds the strengths of megachurches as compared to small churches. “Those who belong to megachurches display as high a level of personal commitment as do those who attend small congregations.” In fact, much of the pioneering work on the most respected Bible study resources and materials are coming from the leaders of large congregations.


3. Megachurches make a dent in communities. America has cities and towns where it seems like there are tiny churches on every corner. But a single megachurch in that same town gets far more buzz and word of mouth. That’s not to downplay the importance of small churches, but when it comes to sharing their message outside their walls, most might as well be invisible. Large churches generate publicity, which generates conversations, which generates more opportunities to share Christ with friends and co-workers.


4. Megachurches engage the media. Like it or not, we live in a media-driven culture. Yet most small churches don’t have the resources, know-how, or interest in using media to impact their community. Larger churches have the financial resources, talent, and expertise to use media effectively. Their websites, video presentations, printed material, and social media campaigns are far more effective and well executed. Most do an excellent job of sharing the message of the gospel through media channels which reach enormous numbers of people.


5. Megachurches are making a global impact. Most leaders of large churches I know are remarkably innovative when it comes to effective mission outreaches. Plus, they send enormous amounts of money to fund missionaries in countries around the world.


6. Finally – megachurches plant other churches.Megachurches are motivated and aggressive about planting new churches. Throughout inner cities, suburbs, remote locations, and more – megachurches are raising up new congregations in amazing numbers.


For these and other reasons, I think it’s time to remember we’re all on the same team. After all, what pastor in his right mind is going to turn away potential worshippers? If people want to attend a particular church, let them. Besides, what’s the right number of members anyway? If you want to worship in a small community, great. But give the same freedom to others who want to worship in a large community.

I recognize that some people may just have an irrational beef with large churches, so I probably won’t change their minds. But problems are problems, and being a preacher’s kid and spending my life inside churches, I can report that many large congregations are doing some amazing things. And by the way, if you’re interested, here’s a good look at the state of megachurches in the U.S. at the end of 2013.


So I say it’s time to celebrate and support churches of all sizes, because the most important thing to remember is that the Church is the hope of the world.
Whatever size a particular church happens to be…
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby jasenj1 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:30 pm

I'll voice my agreement with that article as one who attends a megachurch (membership 6,000+, auditorium seats 3,000).

We recently planted a new location - with a few hundred members shifting over to the new location to help get it up and running. BAM! We have a full child-care area; there's a 1st class sound, lighting, and video system. Everything started off well-done rather than struggling to grow from a handful of people.

We regularly have short-term mission trips heading off to all over the world. And we also do several local & US mission trips.

We have a GIANT annual picnic with rides & give-aways. We get a lot of new members - and salvations & baptisms - from people who first make contact through attending the picnic.

We give out semi-trailer loads of food once a year to the local community. Again, many people start attending & get saved from this outreach.

We have a nice website, sermon videos & audio are available online. We can pay the staff to do all that. And we send DVDs across the world to military folks who are deployed.

We have a wide variety of Sunday School classes - from ones for military families, to in depth verse by verse studies, to special needs, to canned quarterlies.

Certainly intimacy and getting lost in the crowd can be a problem. But if you're willing to serve, there are plenty of ministries to get plugged into and the people within that ministry can become your closer church.

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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby Ramblinman » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:14 pm

natman wrote:
Ramblinman wrote:
natman wrote:... That said, the church we currently attend is well beyond 2000 members and appears to be growing.


Nathan, I met a hard shell Baptist from the foothills north of here and he said that it was standard practice for them to split when they reached 100. One half would move out, call a new pastor, find a new place to worship down the road, and grow until they reach 100, etc, etc. Not my choice, but everyone knew everyone there!


Most Baptist churches, even those in large associations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, are independent, making their own rules, as long as they comply with the greater associations rules. Here in Texas, there are MANY Southern Baptist and Texas Baptist churches that would be considered "mega-churches" by the standards mentioned here.


I did not mean to imply that all Baptist churches nor even the "hard shells" have made planned splits a policy, just this particular offshoot of the Baptists seem to have made it a formal practice.

They are of the Missionary type of Baptist (rather than the Primitive type), so in order for these smaller churches to do mission work in an efficient cost-effective way, there would need to be coordinated planning and fund raising by participating congregations. I know that SBC has home mission and foreign mission boards that do indeed allow cross-congregational effort.

I have spent a lot of time in small churches. As a single, it is either feast or famine when it comes to an active singles group. Some small churches seem to have no problem getting a singles group going, others find that singles are frequently off campus visiting other churches or para-church groups hoping to meet someone.

Some pastors and deacons have no idea what it is like being single and have actually come out and said, "We don't think it is right for singles to want to "use the church" to meet a potential mate. I think a few bad singles may have poisoned the well for the rest of us who do want to participate fully in the life of the church AND find someone whose life is dedicated to Christ. The two goals are not mutually incompatible.

Then again, I have seen mega-churches that have grown so rapidly that many new singles are not discipled in some of the basics that many of us who grew up in church take for granted. I am not eager for a church that abuses the concept of shepherding, but perhaps there is some middle ground between neglect of newcomers and creating "thought police" to keep tabs on us every waking moment.

The sheer number of adults who are single should be a wakeup call to churches that are family-only in focus. Through neglect of the single people, many churches are denying ministry to a huge segment of society.

I am not demanding that the smaller congregations launch a formal singles ministry, but too often, some churches that don't minister to singles are plenty big enough to do so.

But I am not making a case for either mega churches or micro-churches or anything in between.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:28 pm

Ramblinman wrote:I did not mean to imply that all Baptist churches nor even the "hard shells" have made planned splits a policy, just this particular offshoot of the Baptists seem to have made it a formal practice.

They are of the Missionary type of Baptist (rather than the Primitive type), so in order for these smaller churches to do mission work in an efficient cost-effective way, there would need to be coordinated planning and fund raising by participating congregations. I know that SBC has home mission and foreign mission boards that do indeed allow cross-congregational effort.


I know of other organizations with a similar practice of splitting when growing to large. In this case, it was a commune of Christians who did so because it caused relationships to suffer when more people were involved.

Most large churches I know of combat this with small groups.

I have spent a lot of time in small churches. As a single, it is either feast or famine when it comes to an active singles group. Some small churches seem to have no problem getting a singles group going, others find that singles are frequently off campus visiting other churches or para-church groups hoping to meet someone.

I don't know what sort of an area you live in (rural, urban, suburban, metropolitan, etc) but there is a single woman I know of who is involved with a multi-denominational Christian group that plans activities on a regular basis, enlarging the pond so to speak.

I'd worry a little about your doctrine if it couldn't survive some sort of shift for one or the other if love was found. Maybe not from fundamentalist to Catholic but less a wide swing.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby Petros » Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:33 am

For me, the fit between body style and my tolerances is paramount. Each size and format has its place in the plan, of course, and there is nothing inherently wrong with the packed stadium or the two coupled meeting - just different input and output. But I disliked classes of over 20 students, as I once got into trouble for telling my sil seven at a family gathering is pretty much the limit [she was #8], I am into slow and quiet and flexible format.

Rather than critique one format or another we should perhaps ask why no two snowflakes are the same.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby Bare_Truth » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:58 am

Petros wrote:..... Rather than critique one format or another we should perhaps ask why no two snowflakes are the same.
That might be reasonable if the difference in format and how that reacts with your needs and personality is of no more importance than the difference between two snowflakes. As for me, I do not function well (if at all) in large groups of people, nor am I well motivated in a large herd. I am generally
-- better served by
and
-- serve better in
limited size groups.

But for me snowflake differences are pretty unimportant.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby Ramblinman » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:25 pm

Bare_Truth wrote:
Petros wrote:..... Rather than critique one format or another we should perhaps ask why no two snowflakes are the same.
That might be reasonable if the difference in format and how that reacts with your needs and personality is of no more importance than the difference between two snowflakes. As for me, I do not function well (if at all) in large groups of people, nor am I well motivated in a large herd. I am generally
-- better served by
and
-- serve better in
limited size groups.

But for me snowflake differences are pretty unimportant.


If I am faithful in attendance, I often find myself among a nice mix of familiar faces and newcomers in a church of as many as several hundred members. In the churches with several thousand members, I find myself a bit lost in the vast crowds at worship, anonymous, impersonal, not a good experience for me. I come from a somewhat liturgical tradition, so I can find some meaning in the hymns, the Eucharist (Holy Communion), responsive readings, etc, but still can't escape the experience of being disconnected at corporate mass gatherings. Small group meetings are helpful, but I have never enjoyed the worship hour in the sanctuary in a mega church compared to somewhat smaller churches with hundreds rather than thousands.

If you find yourself in a mega Church with great Bible classes, great opportunities to serve, and are plugged into good neighborhood fellowship gatherings, then I can hardly tell you to stop going. But as one who has gone to 11:00 am worship years on end in large auditoriums, even 10 years of regular participation was not enough to create community for me. This is my problem and not necessarily someone else's.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby Petros » Sat Dec 21, 2013 2:28 pm

Snow Flakes -

I could of course have used other intriguing examples, as dandelions which we are told are genetically uniform but manage to maintain phenotypic diversity. But anyway the point is that uniformity is not of the Lord, despite all the same today etc.

We are made different, for different purposes, top function in different environments, and neither Bare_Truth nor I was designed for the megachurch nor it for us, yet I know - likely you do - some for whom it is the ideal mode.

I will say - do say - THIS style, THIS environment, THIS activity is no good for me. But I try NOT to say - I do not fit this ministry, therefore it is a bad ministry.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby MoNatureMan » Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:03 pm

I was visiting family recently and went to the 'mega-church' that they attend.

Wow! 5 locations, 5 services at each location each weekend. Each location has it's own music/worship but share the same message (1 live and 4 via big-screen).

With that massive size, it seems like it would be hard to get to know other Christians. To see a specific somebody there, you would have to go to the right location, go to the same service and sit very close to the same location. Even then you may not make contact.

One thing the was interesting to me was, there was no offering. (can't be a baptist church LOL). There was a box at the entrance to the sanctuary to put any offering in. I guess with that large of a crowd, taking offering would take a lot of time and resources.

Another thing I noticed was the time. Service was almost exactly 1 hour. When you have services back to back like that, you can't afford any variance or moving of the Spirit.

Interesting experience
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby pipermac » Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:21 pm

I attended a "larger" church for several years..."mega" compared with what I was used to. It had 1500+ members, a 1000-seat sanctuary, and three services most weekends. It had grown from start-up (home-church) to over 1000 members in under 15 years. The organizing group didn't start it with the intention of building a large church. They didn't even build the first "real" sanctuary until the church had grown to over 1000 members. Their founding-vision was to build a Christian school, and hang on while God built His church. They did build the school building first, and were still meeting in it when we first went there. I piped the groundbreaking service for the new sanctuary, and less than four year later, piped the dedication services also. Now both the school and the church are thriving.

I had parted company with a significantly smaller church under duress, after getting cross-wise with the "power-core", so the much-larger church gave me the opportunity to sit back and chill out. I did get involved singing in the choir a bit later, but not in any leadership capacity. That church is very heavy into small-groups.

While I really knew very few people there, it was the right church at the right time. My wife and I left that church when we moved out of the area.

I do prefer a "smaller" church, and the church I currently attend is a good size for me.

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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby Petros » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:48 am

"I piped the groundbreaking service for the new sanctuary, and less than four year later, piped the dedication services also. "

I suppose I should have realized from piper + mac [being an American with minimal Scots ancestry who natheless appreciates the pipes and mealie pudding and rowies [betraying a NE orientation], the only one in the department who joined a Scots colleague in consuming the haggis she brought in in honor of Burns night.

But I didn't make the leap.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby natman » Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:34 am

MoNatureMan wrote:One thing the was interesting to me was, there was no offering. (can't be a baptist church LOL). There was a box at the entrance to the sanctuary to put any offering in. I guess with that large of a crowd, taking offering would take a lot of time and resources.


One church we attended for a while, although not a "mega" church, did not have a specific "offering" (gathering) and had boxes at the entrances to the sanctuary. However, at some point near the end of the services, they would bring the boxes to the pulpit to ask God to bless what had been put in them. They never struggled for money and only infrequently asked to pass the plate for a special collection for someone in dire need. When they did that, the response was usually overwhelming.

I prefer the box idea. Although I am a tither and have no problem with placing money in the plate, I feel that some people feel "shamed" into dropping at least a little something into the plate when it is passed by, which I believe is the wrong reason to make an offering. The box is more casual and anonymous ("Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.").
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby Petros » Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:44 am

The plate is a mite [pun intended] easier when enveloppes which might contain a $1000000 check or a nickel or nothing - or a nasty note to ther minister - are provided.

But as we see from the scene at the temple, a box is no guarantee of privacy or freedom from real or perceived social pressure.
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Re: "Mega Church"

Postby jasenj1 » Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:53 pm

We give electronically. Auto-pay from our bank to the church when the paycheck comes in. Plate passes right by us every week. :D

And we can give online using a credit card. If our card pays us 1% back, would tithing with it & getting the kick back from the credit card company be wrong? Should we tithe extra to cover the kick back? :P


- Jasen.
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