Saturday, March 29, 2014

Marks of a Mega-church Mindset (Pt.1)

It's been two and half months since embarking on this journey of planting a church. As I prepare for our first information meeting, I'm excited to share the mission, vision, and core values that the Lord has stirred in my heart with those who the Lord is drawing near to hear. I'm reflecting on the opportunities that I've had over the past few years to coach church planters and mentor elders.

What is clear is that a mega-church is not simply defined by the number of attenders.  Yes, the larger a congregation the more likely it is to be mega-church because intimate fellowship with other believers has a practical numerical limit. But it goes beyond that. It's also about a particular mindset as well. It is possible (because I've witnessed it) for a church of 15, 150, or 1500 to have a mega-church mindset.

There are indicators, "marks" if you will, that reflect a mega-church mindset. In this blog post, I'd like to cover one such mark.  It is, "how church leadership interacts with the congregation".

Mega-churches are known for having wide-but-shallow connections and relationships. It is a simple by-product of dealing with large numbers of people. There are not enough leaders and not enough hours in the day for leadership to have long-lasting and significant relationships with large numbers of congregants. So out of practical necessity, the quantity and quality of interaction is reduced to:

CRISIS. When a member of the congregation is going through a difficult time, such as hospitalization, death in the family, or other critical situation, leadership directs their attention to that person. They comfort, they pray, they serve that person in practical ways.  When the critical period of the crisis subsides, leadership's attention moves on.

CORRECTION. Should a member of the congregation do something that affects other members, leadership directs their attention to the member to deal with the situation. Redirection and restoration are attempted and hopefully received. Having dealt with the situation, leadership's involvement ends.

CONVENIENCE. There are many ministry needs in the church... opportunities to lead tables, prepare meals, as well as various administrative tasks, and more. When a need goes unfilled for a time, leadership seeks out congregants who are available to serve in that capacity. They are recruited, trained, and scheduled. When the need is filled, leadership redirects their focus elsewhere.

It's not necessarily a reflection of the character of a particular leader but of the necessity of the situation. In a mega-church mindset, relationships are, in a word, "reactionary". Relationships are formed and temporarily established as a result of a need. When the need is addressed, the focus shifts elsewhere.

Relationships formed out of response to a practical need are rarely deep or long-lasting. It's not the type of Koinonia fellowship described in the New Testament.  This is why I'm burdened to include as two of the core values of Grace Bible Fellowship, "Everyone is family" and "Plant churches".

I am firmly convicted that it is far better for individual believers, the community, and the cause of Christ to have 3 churches of 300 members than to have one church of 1000.