categories: LifeChurch.tv, church
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January 16th, 2007

by Bobby Gruenewald

20 comments (+ Add)

There Are No Megachurches

I realized recently that the term “megachurch” is a gross mislabeling of our church and any other church that exists today.

When we consider the magnitude of the opportunity that exists right now to share the Gospel with this world, I don’t know how we can sincerely use the prefix “mega” to refer to any ministry that exists today. That prefix can only come from a comparison to the past or to other churches.

Though attendance isn’t really the best measure, it will illustrate my point well because it is the measure people use to evaluate church size. At LifeChurch.tv we currently average over 18,000 people in attendance each weekend…BUT we have the ability to reach approximately 350,000,000 people currently based on the locations of our campuses and the reach to existing Internet users that are able to understand English (the only language that we are currently using to communicate). How can 18,000 people in light of 350,000,000 opportunity be called a megachurch‚Ķinstead, we would better be described as a microchurch. As the Internet expands and our ability to extend beyond the english language grows…the opportunity only increases and the comparison becomes even more dramatic.

Here are a couple of reasons why the distinction is important to me:

- “Mega” churches tend to take fewer risks. “Micro” churches have little to lose and everything to gain.
- “Mega” churches tend to focus on what they have (how many people have accepted Christ, or came last week). “Micro” churches tend to be focused on the opportunity (how many people can I tell today, all of the people around me do not know Christ)
- “Mega” churches tend to move slower. “Micro” churches are quick and nimble.

Maybe one day we’ll get to be or see a “mega” church, but for now we are just a microchurch with a “mega” vision.

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there are a total of20
  1. 1Tommy Bailey
    Jan 16, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    This is very true. Once a church considers themselves “mega” I believe a stagnation starts to occur, almost like the church has “arrived” at it’s peak. I’ve seen this on many occasions.

  2. Jan 16, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Bobby:
    I share your frustration with the terminology used to describe churches. For what it’s worth, I view LifeChurch.tv as a network of disciples and/or potential disciples - a network that has vast potential to grow and bring people closer to Christ throughout the world.
    In my view, LC.tv is using advanced technologies to connect people with Christ. And that’s a beautiful thing! It’s not about “micro” or “macro” or anything else. It’s simply all about connecting people to Jesus.

    May God continue to bless you and your innovative colleagues.

    Steve

  3. Jan 16, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Here, here. Having worked at two large churches, the term “mega-church” has always rubbed me the wrong way. I uess at the deepest level in conotates pride or arogance. I love the micro-mega distinction. When people start talking negatively about “mega-churches” I typically reply. Churches are churches, some are simply more effective. This usually gets the discussion into high gear. LOL Great post. dt http://www.davetilma.com

  4. 4Kyle Sexton
    Jan 16, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    I totally agree. Many churches view “Mega” Churches with a Jealous eye. What they dont realize is that the reason these churches are so “Mega” is because something is happening at that church. Jesus Christ is changing lives and people see that and are attracted to that. Now thats awesome and thats Mega-cool in my book.

  5. Jan 17, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Good thoughts, labels are often such a hindrance to understanding. So, if a church with attendance over 2,000 is called a micro-church, what are churches that have a weekend attendance of 75 called? (75 is still the overall average for church attendance for the 300,000 churches in America.)

  6. 6chris
    Jan 17, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    i believe the term for churches with 75 or so is ‘midget-church’, lol!

  7. 7Chris
    Jan 18, 2007 at 5:50 am

    Food for thought: a church of 75 in a small town of 1000 people. That’s almost 10% of the local population connected in the church. Would you call that a mega-church? I come from a church in Australia, just south of Sydney. It’s a small coastal town next to the beach. I oversee the youth which is around 100 young people. According to the latest statistics, there’s only 600 young people in our area. Do you call that a mega-youth-ministry?

    Also i agree with previous posts, that the term ‘mega-church’ can sometimes bring negative conotations, but personally, i view these ‘mega-churches’ as inspirational and empowering. Churches such as Hillsong in Sydney for us, probably Australias largest church, run a conference each year ‘to help the local church’ and i’ve never met anyone who wasn’t inspired, encouraged and empowered to go back to their church and help build their local church. I personally look at larger churches around the world and see what they are up to, to be inspired about what God is doing around the world. Like Kyle said, these churches are mega because what they are doing is working.

    That’s my 2.5c

  8. Jan 19, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    Bobby:
    Are there any “quantum” churches out there? That’s what I’m searching for! :)

  9. 10Nathan Schmalbach
    Jan 21, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    I agree this is very true. Why do we have to label each other as mega churches? I don’t think it matters if your big or if your small as long as you are reaching those who are lost. While a large church may be able to bring 1000’s to know Christ a small church might only be able to bring 10. But that’s 10 more people who will enter heaven. We must try to reach everyone that we can no matter what size we are.

    Nathan

  10. 11ST
    Jan 30, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Ive never heard the term micro before in regards to the church, but I believe in a modern sense that it is fitting. I must say though, that the mega church phenomina( in the US)is a hotbed for trouble. I blame satan for the imagery cast by these suburban christian meeting houses. I am a Christian, and am presently pastor of a prominant church in the states, and I am constantly battling this charismatic operation of churches that call evangelism ministering to souls that are already saved. This has not effected our church, but Ive seen destroy churches that had a long standing in this and surrounding communities. Their are PLENTY of unsaved in the city where I pastor, but they stay that way until someone who understands the true meaning of evangelism ministers the gospel to them. I know this may come off as a jealous or envious rant, but I am deeply concerned that the church is getting lost in corporate building and clubhouse mentality. I mean really, can anyone say that the mega church Phenomina(n the US) has had a large social influence on what goes on in this country? Can any pastor of any of these churches be quoted in a major paper or article that they take stances on biblical issues regardless of how it effects their congregants, or audience, or market? I was so dissapointed to see Joel Olsteen punk out on natonal tv when asked about who goes to heaven. He curled up like a little kid and couldn’t answer larry king ‘only those who have accepted christ and confessed Him as Saviour’. Pleae understand me, their ‘mega’ pastors like Meeks in Chicago Il, who do proactive things in the community and engage their churches to do the same, but with that kind of a ptatform their should be more. In new orleans, la, a documentary was filmed called the day the levees broke, by spike lee. in it there is a small church chronicled that helped the communtiy and housed people for days. Actor sean penn helped in the effort. In one other article another church in the same city has a ministry purposed to help aids victims. the name of that church slips me, but it is a storefront church. In that same cty there are churches that seat thousans that go unmentioned by a famed producr, and renowned magazine. why? who knows. but my point is clear. Mega simply means big. Meta means change. I am striving to make the church God has given one with a metaspiritual mindset coupled with a microphysical process towards ministry.

  11. Mar 29, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    That’s true.
    Church should not be about quantity but quality.

    Bobby, if you don’t mind, was just wondering what method do you use to track attendance? We use attendance at our church for accountability.

  12. Apr 1, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks for your answer Bobby, yes that was what I was looking for.

    When I said we used attendance for “accountability” I meant that we actually have a listing of members and we mark off WHO attended, not just HOW MANY.

    At the moment it is not too hard as our numbers are a little less than 100, however this will become very difficult to do when the church grows into the hundreds and thousands.

    So from your answer I take it that you have not implemented this kind of “attendance tracking”. It would be good to hear what your thoughts are on this.

  13. May 22, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    i really like this.
    it’s all relative isn’t it.
    When I think of big churches these days I’m going to think of someplace outside the US.

    the four largest churches in the world are

    1. Yonggi Cho Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul, Korea
    253.000
    2. Javier Vasquez Yotabeche Methodist P. Church, Santiago,
    Chile 150.000
    3. William Kumuyi Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos, Nigeria
    120.000
    4. Mario Vega Elim Church, San Salvador, El Salvador
    117,000

    Now that’s a big of perspective. a Mega church of 2,000 people isn’t so mega in comparison I suppose.

    thanks for the heart behind this Bobby!

    riddle

  14. Jun 7, 2007 at 2:45 am

    [...] i came across this piece entitled, “there are no megachurches”, and i love it.¬† it brings a little perspective to the mission at hand and whether anyone can really take the time to pat ourselves on the back for arriving. [...]

  15. 17Joe Montano
    Dec 29, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    If we put it from the perspective of God’s church, there are no mega churches. There is only one church- so we all are His church. Blessed those who can bring more children to the Lord’s path. We have to build the mega church in our heart and make sure we honor God everyday in every way, everywhere and anytime.

  16. Sep 30, 2008 at 7:03 pm

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  17. Oct 13, 2008 at 7:51 am

    [...] church we attend - a “microchurch with a mega vision” - defines small groups as “people who meet regularly in order to make a difference in [...]

  18. Oct 17, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    [...] life as he is with Buckhead Church and the thousands that show up. And I believe He IS pleased with microchurches and the thousands they reach. I would dare say that the percentage of authenticity in worship in [...]