Christian Unity
Imagine a World Without Megachurches
Megachurches and small churches aren't in competition with each other. At least we shouldn't be.

What would the world look like if all the megachurches disappeared tomorrow? Would it be a better place? Or worse?

I propose it would be worse.

But, by the way some of my fellow small church pastors talk (and the way I used to talk), you’d think that if all the megachurches disappeared tomorrow, suddenly all the small churches nearby would be filled to the brim with the people the megachurches stole from us over the years.

I don’t think that’s the case.

I propose that our small churches would look pretty much the same on the Sunday after the megachurches disappeared as they did last Sunday.

Megachurches Aren’t the Reason My Church is Small

The church I pastor is small for a variety of reasons, some of which I don’t understand, but not because there are megachurches near us.

Most of the people in megachurches aren’t there instead of being in my small church. They’re in a megachurch instead of staying at home in their PJs. Thank God for any church that can do that.

Megachurches haven’t stolen people from small churches as much as they’ve stolen people from Sunday brunch. From sleeping in. From watching TV. Just like small and midsize churches have done.

No, I’m not naive to the stats about transfer growth. And I’m fully aware of the stories about growing churches targeting members of smaller churches. But I’m also aware of some small churches that try to recruit (aka steal) members from big churches.

Sheep-stealing isn’t about size or growth. It’s about greed and jealousy. Sins that pastors of any size church can be guilty of.

Besides, church transfers aren’t just one way. There are people in my small church who used to attend a megachurch, too. If everyone in my small church was a new believer or seeker, and everyone in the nearby megachurches was from other churches I’d have a valid complaint. Otherwise, it’s just jealousy.

Besides, if we’re going to steal people into our churches, we should be stealing them from sin to salvation and from hell into heaven, not from church to church.

Churches Need to Cooperate, Not Compete

Small churches and their pastors have to stop looking at megachurches – and any other churches – as competition. This isn’t a game. And, if it was, megachurches and my church would be on the same team.

Megachurches bring gifts to the body of Christ that small churches don’t have. And small churches bring gifts that many megachurches are scrambling to regain.

We need them. They need us. A hurting world without Jesus needs us both. And it needs us working together, not tearing each other apart.

Do Small Church Better

So what should small churches do instead of competing with big- and megachurches?

Do small church better!

The appeal of megachurches isn’t primarily their size. It’s their quality and consistency. Small churches can do that, too.

It will be a different kind of quality. But that difference is why the body of Christ needs all of us.

Match Your Gifts with Their Needs

Every church needs to do two things: first, figure out what God has gifted you to do. Second, take a look at your neighborhood. What do the people in it need?

Then match your strengths to their needs.

Sometimes, that includes understanding what advantages you have because your church is small. Yes, because it’s small.

Thinking small is not the same as small thinking.

Your Small Church Matters

If your church is small – even if it’s just small for now – stop being jealous of bigger churches.

And stop trying to do a smaller-scale imitation of the megachurch model. You’re not mega. You’re small. Use that to your advantage. To your neighborhood’s advantage. To the kingdom of God’s advantage.

Even if there’s a megachurch next door to you, there are needs in your community that will not be met if your church doesn’t meet them.

Let’s keep our eyes and hearts where they belong. On Jesus. On the needs in our community. And in prayer for every church – as the body of Christ works together.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

August 05, 2016 at 10:45 AM

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