I want us to rethink the mega-church.
By definition a mega-church is a church that runs 2000 or more people in average weekend attendance. And while mega-churches seem to get a lot of attention, it’s still the church of 200 or less that dot most of the American landscape and even more importantly, is most common around the world.
I have nothing against the mega-church or the mega-church pastor. The pastors I know that lead such churches are very godly men and are some of my closest friends.
I just think that setting apart a church because of its attendance alone isn’t a wise thing. The fact is, and my friends that lead large churches would agree with me, how many people a church is currently attracting may in fact be the least reliable indicator of what God is or isn’t doing in the congregation.
I know that from experience.
We (Austin Christian Fellowship) ran 300-500 as a portable church for years. Then, we borrowed several million dollars from a non-Christian agency, built a building, and jumped by 1000 people in about two years.
I wasn’t any more godly, I wasn’t praying any more or better, I wasn’t more anointed, we weren’t doing more for the poor or winning more people to Jesus. We had simply indebted ourselves to a secular institution and built a really cool building. And suddenly, all the homeless or migrant Christian sheep in Austin wanted to hang out in our new place–at least for a while.
We are asked to be listed in one of those “fastest growing churches” lists that church growth watchers love to publish. We declined.
I was shocked at how “successful” we had become just by building a new facility. There’s nothing wrong with facilities, but I don’t think buildings, budgets and butts in the seats are what God is going to ask me about when I stand before him.
So I’d like to propose a new measuring standard for those of us who lead churches, and it has nothing to do with attendance and number of assets. It’s impact.
It’s changed lives.
How about we start celebrating mega-impact churches?
- Churches that decide to lead their congregants to adopt every child in their county’s foster-adopt program
- Churches that strategically plant in difficult and impoverished parts of town
- Churches that readily share resources with other churches and ministries in town
- Churches that cover every day of the year with 24 hour prayer
- Churches led by bi-vocational pastors, who punch a clock 40-50 hours a week and still somehow find the time to pray for the sick, serve the poor, evangelize the lost and preach anointed messages on Sundays
- Churches that pick one non-profit in town and basically make sure that they have whatever they need in volunteers and funding, even at the cost of the church’s own ministry.
It’s churches like that, churches that will never make the covers of the church growth magazines and whose pastors will never be asked to speak at the circuit conferences, that are the real mega-churches.
Why? Because they’re mega-impact churches.
And the last time I checked, that’s what Jesus was calling every church to be.
Pastor, do you want to lead a mega-church? Then start today. Be a mega-impact church.
Give money away. Bless others. Cover the calendar with prayer. Put other churches and pastors first. Measure impact by life-change instead of nickels and noses.
That’s mega-impact, and that’s something you can become today.