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Trends in Big Church Buildings

Bigger Becoming Smaller...and More
Trends in Big Church BuildingsCourtesy of Willow Creek

The megachurch has been a topic of interest for years. There are more every year and their growth rate is increasing. In other words, it's not just that there are more, their rate of increase is growing.

Yet, when most people think of megachurches ...

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Mick Bostwick

September 14, 2013  1:09pm

After reading this article, I am again reminded of my confidence in the vision and leadership of our Senior Pastoral staff at North Coast Church (NCC) in Vista, CA. As a 10 year member, it's been the philosophy and the practice of NCC to do exactly what is discussed here way back then and it continues today. To bring the church to the people and not the people to the building. After all, it's only a building.

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Tom Greenwood

September 13, 2013  7:54pm

Ed, as an architect who has been working with churches over the past 25 years, and many megachurches over the past decade, I agree with your general observations of trends towards, smaller, sometimes recycled, multisite facilities by many of the larger churches. While it is true that the days of large, single, mega-campuses in suburbs are becoming fewer in number, we do see megachurches with a variety of strategies on the type and size of facilities which will support their multisite approach. Many are looking for creative uses of existing non-church facilities (old retail or commercial buildings) which allow them to be nimble, with reduced building costs, and the ability to penetrate under-served communities. Others are occupying older church buildings which have been sold by declining congregations, which are often located in the heart of neighborhoods and communities. Still other megachurches are developing mega-multisite campuses; with the intention of growing very large congregations (2500+ seat worship centers) at multiple locations. With the proliferation of better technology to enhance connectivity between campuses, the economic challenges facing many churches, and the more missional views (of facilities) of many younger leaders, I think the trend will continue towards building mega-churches across wider and wider geographic areas.

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scott thumma

September 13, 2013  8:39am

Ed, nice article. A few facts to go with your observations: From the 2011 study www.hartfordinstitute.org/megachurch/megachurch-2011-summary-report.htm "46% of megachurches reported holding services at multiple locations, with another 20% of them saying they were considering this strategy. This finding is evidence of the steady growth of the multisite phenomenon..Multisite megachurches are growing faster (95% growth rate) than single site ones (70%) over the past five years; however, those churches “thinking about” becoming multisite have the fastest average growth rate (133%)... the larger the church, the more likely it is to have multiple campuses. So the multisite megachurches have significantly larger median attendance, by almost 1,500 people, but their total seating of the largest sanctuary is no bigger than those with a single location – median of about 1,730. Also see our 2008 report www.hartfordinstitute.org/megachurch/megastoday2008_summaryreport.html Scott Thumma

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Tim Bonesteel

September 12, 2013  9:23pm

Let me first begin by saying that I am not a pastor nor a church leader in any way. However I have grown up in the church my whole life. I've been to rather large churches with weekly attendants of about 2000 or more, to really small churches of around 30 on a good Sunday. I have been observing the church for years, and have been seeing this trend in modern churches as well. I admit that at first I wasn't for it and even condemned megachurches, or even satellite churches because I just didn't feel as if they reached the community as well. But then the Lord shook me and I realized that it doesn't matter the size of the church if the mindset of the people isn't one of mission. Meaning, a church of 3000 can be just as missional or non-missional as a church of 30. My biggest concern with these large churches is, are the leaders of the church able to be personal and lead their followers effectively...

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Tim Bonesteel

September 12, 2013  8:59pm

Not only that, but are leaders being trained properly by those who are in leadership already? Sometimes the megachurches sacrifice community as a whole for numbers, and vice versa. I think there is a place for the megachurch, and that a lot of people hear the gospel, but I think that although these churches have lots to offer, like serving opportunities, I think they sacrifice a lot too, namely the close sense of community of the other members as a whole of the church, and personal discipleship by the leaders of the church. I'm not saying one is greater than the other, I think in either Jesus can do work, but I think each church, regardless of size, has things to offer, both good and bad. I also personally believe that megachurches needs to be mindful of the churches around the same area, that they're all on the same side and be careful not to monopolize the city that they're in, and also for the small churches to be on guard against envy and malice towards the bigger church.

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