categories: church, innovation, leadership, vision
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October 22nd, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

14 comments (+ Add)

What the Church Should Learn from Google (3 of many)

3. They haven’t arrived.

Most of us would say Google is pretty big. Just 11 years after they launched their search engine, they are one of the top ten most well known brands in the world. But despite how big they’ve become, they continue to think bigger. Instead of looking back at what they’ve accomplished, they look outward and to the future.

For example, with Google Translate they are aiming to break down language barriers across the globe. That’s a pretty ambitious goal, but it’s just the kind of big vision that helps propel organizations to go further.

As churches, it’s really easy to look at what God’s done–our history, heritage, or recent success–and become more focused on that instead of the big opportunities for what could be.

Is your church as big as Google?

No? Great, there are a lot more opportunities for your church to reach this world.

Yes? Great, there are a lot more opportunities for your church to reach this world.


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there are a total of14
  1. Oct 22, 2009 at 6:45 am

    I always worry when churches use words like “big.” For two reasons:

    1) The conceptual–LifeChurch has succeeded because, though it’s obviously not afraid of “big,” it embraces “small”–small groups, small(ish) campuses, one-to-one relationships, individual care, eye-to-eye contact (even in the virtual world online).

    2) The spiritual–Historically, most of the time I hear church leaders talk about “big” they’re not talking about advancing God’s kingdom, but about building their own empires. I don’t think this is what you’re doing, but I worry about the effects of the word on less mature, less careful leaders…

  2. Oct 22, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I think that the ideas come from thinking big are what is important not the getting big. I think of what Steven Furtick is talking about this week, God could be telling you no, but that does not mean that you do not stop working. David helped prepare for the Temple even though he knew he would not be the one to do it. We need to be getting those ideas and getting focus on what and where we need to be heading. Google keeps looking forward to the future and so do we.

  3. Oct 22, 2009 at 7:42 am

    I agree with Charles that one must be careful using the word “big”. I know that many of us do not like the use of the term Mega-Church when describing Lifechurch even though, technically it is one.

    Great ideas and concepts have come from individuals and small teams (i.e. Yahoo, Microsoft). People with visions for the future (i.e. Craig).

    Lifechurch is very much like Google. Very forward thinking. You Version, Open, Church Online, etc. are all very innovative ways of spreading the Word and reaching those who otherwise could not be reached using traditional methods.

  4. Oct 22, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I’m not sure “big” was meant to relate to “size” as much as relate to “scope and reach.” It’s such a little word - big. Just three letters. But has so much “baggage” behind it.

    As I read this post - I began to thing about “big” as it relates to relationships and dreams and changing the world - not size of buildings or programs.

    That wasn’t just me, right?

  5. Oct 22, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Honestly, I don’t understand what the issue is with the word BIG. In all actuality, I think it is ridiculous to not want the church to be big…The bigger it is, the more people are getting transformed and changed, and ultimately the less people that are going to hell.

    I believe when we think big, we become big…I’m sorry but I don’t read anywhere in the bible where Jesus said to remain small. I feel it is the church’s responsibility to grow people. You cannot grow people spiritually and it not cause the church to grow bigger. John 15 says that we are called to bear fruit and that our fruit should remain! I believe this also applies to sons and daughters being born into the kingdom of God.

    I think most of the time it is people’s insecurities that won’t allow a church to grow big.

    Sorry if it makes you mad, but it’s just my opinion.

    Oh by the way, Google is reaching the WORLD…because they decided to be big! I appreciate that LIFECHURCH is big, because they can show us how ministry should be done and gives us a goal to reach for.

  6. Oct 22, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I like the idea of thinking “big” for churchs not in terms of how many seats can will fill, but how big can we expand our reach. To me, it’s not about how big we make the roof of the church…Acts points out several instances where the early church spread mostly through small group communities. Lifechurch, in my opinion, works because it leverages the megachurch size and resources through small group outreach and philosophy.

  7. Oct 22, 2009 at 10:27 am

    This post is very true. Love the idea of not resting on thinking that you have hit the ultimate by creating something amazing (see google maps, google docs, gooder reader, google wave, gmail, shall I continue?) But google is constantly moving forward with the idea of helping others. I think churches can learn from this. How can we as a church move forward, using technology, gifted people, and the Holy Spirit, to continue to connect people with Christ?
    Rather than rest on the awesome program that we created 10 years ago, how can we move into the 21st century and use what God is giving us now?
    Great post Bobby

  8. Oct 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Interesting commentary. As part of this, I would add that churches are far too prone to become lazy and self-serving once they get to a certain place. Its different for different churches. For one it may be that they’ve arrived once they reach a certain number membership-wise. For another it might be how many volunteers come out to an event.

    Either way, the tendency is the same, we’ve accomplished the goal, we did what God wanted us to, now lets relax. But (like Google), God is always up to something new. We need to be sure to keep in step making God our goal, not some vision he gives us.

  9. Oct 22, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Great thought. I like how the same thing applies to both small churches and large ones. It’s an important thing to keep in mind so as not to become ineffective.

  10. Oct 22, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I think, when the Church feels it has arrived, it quits being the church and suddenly becomes an organization no unlike any other.

    The simple fact is, the Church will never arrive until Jesus comes back. We will always have work to do and there will always be people to reach and lives to be changed. That’s our guarantee…and it’s the reason why as a Church, you can never arrive but only continually evolve with the times.

  11. Oct 22, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    So, are you trying to say…” there are a lot more opportunities for your church to reach this world?” LOL! J/K…great post. Why do we all forget at times that God is Enormous!!!!? He really can do ANYTHING He wants. He just IS. That in itself is SUPER cool.

  12. Oct 23, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Thanks for the great challenge Bobby

  13. Oct 23, 2009 at 11:09 am

    To me, thinking big is not being limited either by complacency, or artificial limitations, OR lack of imagination. There’s a wonderful balance in LifeChurch and its various partners. A sort of boundarylessness. There is no territorial culture at LifeChurch. We work together with other churches in expanding God’s Kingdom while being careful to give all the credit to God. I am confident that if God told LifeChurch leadership that they were to stop starting campuses and instead assist other churches to do that, there would be no hesitation. It’s not about making any particular church larger or competing with other churches. It’s about growing the Kingdom. More than that–and much simpler–it’s about hearing God and doing what he says.

  14. 14Hillary Morris
    Oct 23, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Many churches have the right attitude when it comes to looking for opportunities to reach others in a big way. However, it can be difficult for churches to find and implement those innovative methods. One idea that should be explored is making your sermon content available on-demand via iPhone. We did this for our church, Mars Hill, in Seattle. It makes accessible the good news of Jesus to the 50 million of iPhone/iPod users.