I have heard a very similar statement made numerous times by very different people since the first of the year. The comment has actually generated a great deal of thinking inside of me about my experience and what people are really trying to say. So this week I am going to explore the idea of what it means to be a Mega-Church from those comments. The simple concept of each statement was “Our Church is not one of those Mega-Churches.” Each time it was stated in a sort of negative way. People said, “I am glad our Church is not one of those Mega-Churches.” “I could never be a part of one of those Mega-Churches” “We don’t need to handle that like those Mega-Churches.”
Two clarifying thoughts for you to know up front. One, I do not lead a Mega-Church nor have I ever lead one. I am a small Church pastor. Two, I do not consider a Church a failure if it does not reach Mega status. I do however think that God is doing something great through the largest Churches in our country and I am greatly encouraged by them.
So, for me today I want to start in the most ordinary way, by looking at the Bible. The first Church ever started was a Mega-Church. In the book of Acts it tells us in 2:41 that about 3,000 people were added to the original 120 (Acts 1:15). In one day God took the Church from a mid-size Church into a Mega-Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. The story doesn’t end there. In Acts 2:27 it says that God was adding to the number “daily.” Next in Acts 4:4 it says that the number of men grew to about 5,000 people. The growth from there continues with almost every page. Acts 5:14; 6:1,7,15; 9:31; 11:21; 12:24; 16:5 and 19:20 all state the Church was growing and continually being added too. When we reach Acts 21 there is a statement in verse 20 about “how many thousands of Jews have believed.” The word there is “myriad” which literally means tens of thousands. Some estimate that there are over 25,000 believers by this point in the book of Acts. The Church is pictured as growing and growing and growing and …
For me, to say that we do not want to grow into a Mega-Church is like saying you do not want to restore New Testament Christianity. The Bible shows the Church as a group of people who are reaching out with their faith and are never content with the current size of their Church. This is true because each number represents a real person. The early Christians seem to really believe that each person should reach out to at least one other person with their faith and win them to Jesus while placing them in a Church (Re-read Luke 15). Their faith fueled a desire to see the Church grow because they believe Jesus was the only name by which people could be saved.
Honestly, it makes me a little nervous when someone says that they do not every want to be a part of a Mega-Church. My fear is that what they are really saying is that they do not care if the Church is reaching people with the gospel. Sometimes the difference between a Mega-Church and a non Mega-Church is not the size of attendance but the attitude toward reaching the lost.