I am continuing my series of post based off of conversations I have had lately about Mega-Churches.
*NOTE – I had trouble with the last two posts so I am reposting them*
When I boil everything down I hear people say about Mega-Churches I find one common theme – Mega-Churches are unfamiliar to us. It is like a person going from Adrian Missouri to New York City. They are both cities but that is about all they have in common. I once heard a Church consultant say that a Church of 100 has more in common with a Church of 100 across town from an entirely different denomination than it has in common with a Church of 1,000 of the same denomination.
For most of us there is a familiarity with smaller Churches. I am told that 80% of all Churches are under 200 people so it is very likely that most of us grew up in a smaller Church, attended at least one as an adult, possibly we were married in one and it is where our parents go every Sunday. Smaller Churches have numerous things in common from coast to coast and those characteristics make us comfortable from the moment we walk in the doors.
Here is the problem I see – smaller Churches are familiar to US. They are comfortable to believers like you and I. If you have spent much time in one you are ready for all of them. But more and more the people who walk in the doors are not familiar with our customs and rituals. What we accept as familiar is odd to others. The way those of us who attend smaller Churches feel in Mega-Church settings is the way many of our visitors feel each and every week. They attend and we assume they understand everything going on. After all we know it by heart. We know when to stand and when to sit and who to shake hands with and when.
Unfortunately or maybe fortunately a number of people through our does have no clue what is going to happen. Many people come hoping they will not get embarrassed, be confused or bored. They are rarely drawn in by our happy fellowship; instead they are focused on making it out alive. One larger Church I attended in college still had the practice of having guests stand up and introduce themselves. I slid down in my seat hoping that I would not be noticed. I don’t remember most of what the preacher said that day I just was glad I made it out with my dignity and unnoticed.
Sometimes I like to attend a Mega-Church to listen to the sermon, hear the worship and draw close to God. Other times I go just to remind myself what it is like to be an outsider. To be sacred or nervous about what is coming next. To feel uncertainty in all that is going on. I do this because it reminds me about the people who attend the Church I lead every week.
I often wonder what a Mega-Church could do to make me more comfortable with my experiences. But then I really wonder what I can do to make our worship experience better for those I will see this Sunday. I hope you will join me in this search.