Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are mega-churches destroying smaller churches?

I have heard or read four times in the last month that small churches are being destroyed by mega-churches. The argument typically goes that mega-churches offer so much in the way of family programming, skilled musicians, and outstanding preaching, that it is hard for a smaller church to compete.

It seems that this argument is a little short sighted for several reasons:

1. People tend to look for a reason to stay in a church, not a reason to leave. If people are leaving your church, it is time to take a good long look inward, and say "how are we not meeting their needs." Are they not being fed through the teaching of the word? Then how can that be changed. Are they experiencing issues with the music and worship? What can be done in that area? Are there few youth in the church? What can be done to reach out to the youth of the community?

2. If people are not excited about what is happening in your church, whatever that might be, then your church will not grow. They will find some excuse to go to the newer, bigger church down the road. What is an area of ministry in your church in which God seems to be working, and around which excitement can grow? How can you build on this area? What areas of ministry are serving as a drag on your church.

3. Strive for excellence! You don't want to practice Tuesday night for Sunday worship, then that is fine, but then you are excluding yourself from the Worship team. You don't want to take the Sunday School Teacher training? Well that is fine, then you don't teach Sunday School. People will see and appreciated excellence and be turned off by half hearted attempts.

4. Have key members of your leadership visit other churches that are growing. What is working for them that is not working for you?

5. Most importantly, work together with your leadership and your congregation to develop a vision and direction. If your people can see a positive future they will want to be part of it.

For the past 12 years we have been part of churches that have had less than 80 people. The energy that it requires to run a church of 80 well is not that different than the energy it takes to run a church of 300. Reflecting back over the last 12 years I wonder if we might have been able to accomplish a lot more for the cause of Christ, if our energy has been used to help a medium size church grow, rather than used to try and sustain a smaller struggling church. The mega-churches that I am familiar with around here seem to be doing a lot to introduce non-churched people to Christ. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for many of the smaller churches with which I have been associated.

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