Some people point to mega-churches as successful because of
their large numbers. Others point to mega-churches as failures, because of
their large numbers. Some say numerical growth is the only mark of
"success" in church-planting. Others say churches should stay small,
to preserve relationships. Who’s right?
Neither, I think. The real issue is deeper and more subtle. We need to be
thinking about the function and purpose of our congregational gatherings. And
before we can talk about that, we have to talk about the kingdom, because the
kingdom gives rise to the church, not the other way around. For this reason,
ultimately the location, size, and style of the meeting don’t matter. What
matters is the kingdom being embodied in a specific cultural context.
Small is not the answer.
Big is not the answer.
More preaching is not the answer.
Less preaching is not the answer.
House churches are not the answer.
Mega-churches are not the answer.
More hymns, fewer hymns, contemporary music, dance music, alternative worship,
traditional worship, jeans, suits, spikey hair – none of it matters all by
What matters is what lies behind our church meetings: is the kingdom being
embodied in a culture?
The church is not a meeting, but it has meetings. The church is a community,
but the church is not simply hanging out with friends. Friendship is great, but
a gathering of friends does not a church make. For churches to be real
churches, there must always remain a focus on Jesus and the kingdom. The church
is the community that God creates through the Holy Spirit through which to
accomplish his mission on Earth.
If the kingdom is being embodied in a community, that will be reflected in the
meetings that community has, however they dress, whatever music they use,
whatever their numbers, whether or not they’re "purpose-driven" or
"seeker-sensitive" or "evangelical" or
"traditional" or "emerging" or "charismatic" or
"Baptist". None of those things matter, ultimately. Some of the
practices of those groups may be better attuned to the kingdom than others, but
the labels mean nothing.
So, to paraphrase Paul (Gal 6:15) – "For neither ‘traditional’ or
‘contemporary’ counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new
RC of strangeculture says
this is a very interesting post to me in light of currently reading Revolution by George Barna…I’m about 2/3 done but it is very thought provoking (even in it’s simplicity).
He really says some very challenging things about church and the future of church.
–RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com
Benjamin Sternke says
I have that book on my desk right now, but haven’t started it. I’m reading through Reggie McNeal’s The Present Future first, which is fairly simple but nails quite a few things really well, in terms of the church’s response to a shifting culture.
His take on megachurches and the church growth movement that began in the 1970s is that it was a good push in the right direction for a church that had lost its bearings, but that it was never really the whole answer, because it played too easily into the ego-centric aspirations of those in leadership (e.g. if I have a large church I am a “successful” pastor – and if I don’t, I’m not – either way, the goal is always more people, but for the ego’s sake instead of the kingdom’s). His answer is to focus on kingdom growth rather than church growth.
RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com says
I’ve been meaning to read Reggie McNeal’s The Present Future after someone recommended it to me over a year ago…
I completly see God’s desire for kingdom growth over church growth, there are certainly a lot of blah-nothing-doing churches…but who am I to judge.
Thanks for the reminder about reading Reggie’s book.
–RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com
You’ve hit it on the head. I will have to post on this at my blog later this week.
Thanks for the ppowerful reminder.