The Growth Gap…

The Growth Gap… September 30, 2018

How Small Churches Can Compete with Megachurches in One Word… 


No, literally, just don’t compete.

There’s this idea that in order to be a successful pastor you have to draw the masses and, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

And, look, there’s an entire book of the Bible titled “Numbers,” Jesus drew large crowds, and was said to have fed 4,000 people [miraculously]; so, I don’t think God is against numbers. I’m just unsure if he meant for Christianity to be about the consumers.

Have you ever been to Saddleback Church? It’s in Lake Forest, CA – AKA “Orange County.” If you’ve ever been you can attest to the fact that their campus is like the Christian version of Disneyland. Except, no church can compete with Disneyland.

Why? Because entertainment isn’t our end-goal.

Sure, the Gospel is not mean to be “boring” either but, neither was the Gospel ever supposed to be vacant of meaning.

Granted, it’s tough, I get it; unlimited budgets are what small church pastors dream of. Money matters. And, mostly, the only people who say it doesn’t are the one’s who possess most of it.

And, as many of us might know, in smaller (read: less populated) and more rural states pastors are widely spread thin.

Many times, they will hop from church to church to church preaching up to three or four times in one single day; all of this done in order to make ends meet for both their families and these smaller sized congregations without the ability to afford paid parishioners.

“But the distance it creates is not good. It’s leaving small churches and their leaders feeling even more ignored, isolated and belittled than usual[2].”

This entire sense of urgency we’re all feeling within the Church body that is “Christianity”… it’s iffy.

The wake-up call we’re having isn’t one that should be “threatening” to our faith. Sure, on the flip side of this coin I’ve said previously before:

The statistics are staggering. 88% of children raised in Christian families leave church at the age of 18, never to return. Only 4% of the “bridger” generation, or Gen Y, will be Bible-believing Christians when they reach adulthood, all while, the 20 something male is almost completely absent in the American church, which seeing the above statistics, doesn’t look like that will change anytime in the near or further future…

People are still believing, praying, and worshipping… they’re just no longer affiliating with the institutions that lead them so far astray.

Knowing this difference cahnges the entire conversation.

What Kind of Budget Did Jesus Operate On…?

Honestly, the fact that I’m saying “compete,” as if it’s a competition… it just shows us how far consumed our church has become within our capitalistic world.

The best way to “compete” is simply to not compete… because, again, it’s not a competition; or, rather, it’s only a competition if you choose to engage those wanting to compete.

You see, when we enter into this form of competitive marketing we begin to dehumanize the congregant by making them into a commodity.

“As a result, choosing a church today isn’t merely about finding a community to learn and live out the Christian faith. It’s about “church shopping” to find the congregation that best expresses my identity. This drives Christian leaders to differentiate their church by providing more of the features and services people want. After all, in a consumer culture the customer, not Christ, is king[4].”

It’s this theological form of malpractice that encourages [from the pulpit] a lackadaisical faith that’s completely vacant of meaning.

From a historical perspective, it’s arguable that Jesus had those mega-church numbers while it’s also arguable that Jesus rathered “small group” numbers.

He, Jesus, wasn’t focussed on the number of people brought into all that he was doing… it wasn’t about assuaging his ego; it was about liberating oppressed individuals.

If you go to a megachurch… does your head pastor know your name?

[1] The Growth Gap: How The Megachurch Phenomenon Has Unintentionally Isolated Small Churches

[2] Ibid.

[3] The State of the Church 2016

[4] Leader’s Insight: From Christ’s Church to iChurch

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