Big churches serve many great roles in the body of Christ. And the church growth movement that spawned many of them has been a great blessing to me and so many others in ministry.
But numerical growth, while great, does not come without challenges.
In my last post, 5 Mistakes More Likely To Be Made By Small Churches Than Big Churches, I wrote about some of the challenges that small congregations need to be aware of.
- Holding On To Stale Traditions
- Poor, Or Nonexistent Planning
- Not Enough Assessment Or Evaluation
- Too Much Inward Focus
- Depending On The Pastor Instead Of Making Disciples
In this post, we’ll look at the other side of the numerical bell curve to see what potential missteps big churches need to be aware of falling into.
Just as my previous list was not a criticism of small churches or inevitable for them, this list is not critical of, or inevitable for big churches, either.
The previous list was easier for me to write, since I’ve been pastoring small churches for decades. For this one, though I’ve never pastored a big church, I’ve worked closely with many of them. So consider this a friendly view from the outside looking in.
If this list feels familiar, it should. Each point is a one-for-one parallel to my small church list.
1. Letting Too Many Traditions Go
There’s a lot of talk in church leadership circles about dropping tired traditions. I’ve talked and written a lot about the importance of letting go of stale traditions, myself.
But when we drop good traditions along with bad and outdated ones, we can bring unnecessary instability into people’s lives.
In his book Dirt Matters, Jim Powell talks about how Richwoods Church has established what he calls Stability Zones to help balance an atmosphere of necessary change with the stability of a few essential traditions.
Stability Zones are a practical means of expressing the theological essentials. They’re like the safety net that allows X Games stunt riders the freedom to try daring new feats in practice because there’s something to catch them when they fall.
The more a church is open to change, the more we must emphasize the principles that never change.
Big churches must have strong, dependable systems in place. Without them, things can fall apart fast.
But we must never become so dependent on our systems that we rely more on them than we do on the breath of the Spirit or the creativity of the gathered church.