Most of us who serve in ministry find ourselves in a typical church in a typical community. Our Sunday attendance is less than 200. We may be the only full-time (or only paid!) staff member. We may find ourselves peeking slowly at our giving totals. We may even have a "Megachurch Next Door" that has all the bells and whistles, brings in nationally known speakers, whose children's ministry is on a giant rocket ship, and whose choir lofts can hold our entire congregation.
Can I be honest? Sometimes I think we find ourselves jealous of the apparent success of these large churches in our community. I think we feel on some level a sense of "competition" or a concern that the larger churches will take over our communities.
But the Megachurch isn't your enemy. It never has been. It never will be.
1. No Megachurch can reach everyone - I heard once from someone that their church needed to be aggressive in the community because "XYZ Community Church was building a campus in the area." No matter the size of the church, it cannot permeate lostness everywhere. Depending on where you live, the surrounding area of your church is anywhere from 50%-90% unengaged with the Gospel. Our county alone has over 300,000 people in it. That's at least 150,000 (but closer to 220,000) people who have no engagement with a local church.
2. Not everyone fits at a Megachurch - One of the strengths of a Megachurch is their size (they're able to do incredible community ministry, host nationally recognized events, and provide an anchor for their surrounding community). But not everyone is comfortable with the size of a Megachurch. Sometimes they're too imposing--my wife was on staff at one Megachurch the truckers affectionately called "Fort God" when their CB signals would get mixed up, and one in my hometown we called Six Flags Over Jesus. There can be too many people, the parking lot may be too big, people get lost, or people genuinely crave a more intimate setting. That's ok. Not everyone needs to be a Megachurch member.
3. Most Megachurches are Kingdom Effective - I've had the pleasure of bumping elbows (literally sometimes) with several megachurch pastors and their staffs. And the overwhelming impression from those guys was that they were sold out to the Kingdom, passionate teachers of the Word, they were committed to missions, and they had a heart for both the Lord and the lost. We shouldn't find ourselves jealous. We should find ourselves thankful for these partners in ministry who can do things others can't. I'll never forget being invited to a networking lunch at a Megachurch in a previous ministry stop. Our host, the Student Pastor, said it best "We want to host this and make it available and make it free, because we can. And we want you to know we love you and are here for you."
4. Bigger ≠Better - It can be easy to look at bigger churches and think that's where we should be, to admire the platform God has given those guys. One lesson I learned early was that the only reason the grass is greener on the other side is because it's been well fertilized. Bigger ministries are a bigger grind, come with a bigger target (look at all the "watchdog" blogs written about Megachurches), and carry expectations other churches don't. Bigger budgets, bigger staffs, bigger impact often come with bigger headaches.
5. Megachurch Pastors are Pastors Like You - They're faithful. They're committed to the Word. They love their family. They care about their church. They long for revival. And they genuinely love pastors. Many will give you an hour of their time to invest in you, to pray for you, and to mentor you. They may have bigger congregations and lead more through their staff than you do, but there's still a connection between you built on a shared calling and commitment to serving the Lord. During my doctoral studies the most helpful and considerate people for my dissertation research were larger church pastors, who wanted to help someone who was where they were before. I'll never forget their kindness and willingness to share with me their insights in ministry.
So pray for the fellow churches in your area, and be committed to seeing your neighbors and the nations brought to Christ and impacted for eternity.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.