Archives for : December2010

Mega-Churches: Good or Harmful?

After reading a recent article about how Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor in the US, is planning on creating 5 more church campuses over the next 10 years, it started to get me wondering, are megachurches good, or are they potentially harmful?

I have had discussions about, not necessarily megachurches, but the difference between regular sized churches, and small gatherings of about 10 Christians. What were the pro’s and con’s that I distinctly remember?

Pros for larger churches (and therefore potential cons for small groups):

  • Consistent theology. Of course, my view is that there is only ever one right answer, and that answer is whatever God says, but the interpretation of these answers by humans can be varied and interpreted incorrectly (including by myself, please don’t go away with the impression that I think I’m perfect – far from it!) The larger the church, the more input there is (or at least should be) to what theology is taught, and the more likely it is to represent absolute truth, which is what all theology teaching should aim to do.
  • Easier organisational wise. Outreach and evangelical events wouldn’t really happen if there were 100’s of autonomous small groups, whereas with a couple of larger churches, that may be autonomous but still in communication with each other (which my hope would be that all local churches are, regardless of denomination,) will have a much easier time organising events and getting people together.
Pros for smaller groups (and therefore potential cons for larger churches):
  • Deeper connections with each other member of the group: in a larger church, even with just 100 or 200 people, it is very easy to get lost. You could go in, sit in for a service, leave, and not talk to anyone. You could, if you really want, not talk to anyone. And even when you do talk to anyone, when was the last time you spoke to this person? What exactly do you talk about? I for one, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of many others, feel more comfortable sharing more about myself with a smaller group that I have been with for a little while and become comfortable with, rather than someone that I may occasionally talk to at Church.
  • It’s how Jesus meant the Church to be. You need to be careful here with the use of the word “church”. There is a church, and then there is the church. In this particular context, I am talking about a church, and how a church can be of any size. Then there is the church, which is used to describe every church in all of creation, in all of history, joined together in one body.
Granted, I think it comes down to a good balance. Consistent and correct theology teaching is important (though not always present in mega churches, but if it isn’t, it’s more likely to be exposed,) but personal relationships that you get with small groups or congregations also has a high priority. Most mega-churches are huge on small groups, and I think the “Church runs Small Groups” model works the best.