Reaching the World for Jesus is Too Important for Megachurches to Do Alone

482 Jesus on WallMegachurches, we’re with you.

You’re our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our partners in ministry.

We know that the task of reaching our communities, nations, cultures and world is an enormous one. And an enormously important one. We don’t expect you to do it alone.

After all, while your buildings and budgets are large, to the point of being intimidating to some people, there are fewer than 4,000 megachurches in the world with up to 100 million attending. Those are impressive numbers until we compare them to the 7 billion people in the world, at least 5 million of whom don’t have a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Less than 1% of churches in the world are megachurches, with about 5% of total church attendance. Even when we add large-but-not-mega-churches to that number, it only adds up to 10% of the world’s churches and 20% of the world’s Christians.

The other 80% of us attend the remaining 90% of churches. That may be one of the greatest, untapped secrets of the church today. Most of the churches in the world are small, but there are so many of us!

It’s time for the 90% to come alongside the 10% and get our hands dirty together.

 

Cooperation Is Essential – And Long Overdue

I know medium, small and house churches haven’t always had the most cooperative relationship with mega and large churches through the years.

A lot of that is our fault. Too many Small Churches and their pastors have spent more time being jealous of you than praying for you. As I outlined in The Grasshopper Myth, that has included me at times. So I, for one, repent of that attitude and I ask your forgiveness for it. 

You see, while some of us in smaller churches might be tempted to complain that megachurches receive most of the accolades, the truth is that, because of your visibility, you bear some very heavy burdens, too. Including being the poster-children for a lot of our culture’s growing anti-Christian bigotry. The last thing you need is anti-big-church bigotry added to that burden from those of us who should be supporting you.

 

When Small Is an Advantage

Small Churches may sometimes feel ignored to the point of feeling invisible – to our neighbors, our denominations, even to you – but that invisibility can have its advantages.

While everyone’s been paying attention to megachurches, the virtual invisibility of Small Churches has allowed us to tuck ourselves in to every corner of the world. Including places where giants cannot tread.

  • Property cost too much in this city? Two or three churches are sharing one building together.
  • Building codes too restrictive to build a church in that town? We’re renting space in bowling alleys and bars.
  • Most people live below the poverty line in your region? A Small Church pastor might be fixing your car or working beside you in the coal mine. Living in poverty with the poor.
  • Christianity is illegal in a nation? We’re already meeting quietly from house-to-house – and growing new house churches like crazy! If the first-century believers could do it, why can’t we? (Sssshhh! Don’t tell anyone!)

 

We All Have Something to Bring

Yes, we know there are a lot of Small Churches not living up to our potential. We’ve been guilty of complaining too much and cooperating too little. Some of us are small because we’ve settled for comfort over mission. But some of you got comfortable after you got big, too. (Go ahead, admit it. You’ll feel better if you do.)

So, here’s an idea. Let’s forget the criticism and celebrate what’s right, even great about churches of every size.

You bring the big buildings, the latest technology and the fully-staffed, multi-venue, age-appropriate, musically-excellent worship experiences.

We’ll bring the hands-on pastoral care, the traditional chapels, the cutting-edge, quirky start-ups and the kids-and-grandparents-sit-together church services – and we’ll bring the punch for the potluck, too.

What you do appeals to big groups of people, but a small percentage of the Christian world. What we do meets the needs of more people, but in smaller groups.

We need you. You need us.

But, more than that, we need to need each other. And a world that needs Jesus needs us working together.

 

So what do you think? Are you and your church ready to step up and work together with churches of all sizes?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(Jesus 482 photo from Tiago Vidal Dutra • Flickr • Creative Commons)

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5 thoughts on “Reaching the World for Jesus is Too Important for Megachurches to Do Alone”

  1. Out on the High Plains of Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado mega churches are a million miles from our thinking. Our various cultures out here exist because of team work, cooperation and looking after each other. Survival depends on it! The 100 – 140 people in our church have discovered they ARE Big in thousands of small effective caring, loving, neighborly ways.

    I’m very thankful for the folks in our small church! They gather on Sundays to hear what the Holy Spirit has been doing through them during the week. We meet to encourage one another, discover how to pray about the ministry opportunities our fellowship is doing and help carry each other’s burdens. We are effectively agile, flexible, responsive and functional in our efforts to be intentional “Gospelers.” Our mission statement is simply “Forget the box… Think Outside the Church, because that’s what we do. Our desire is not so much to be large as to be effective by the power of the Holy Spirit to impact our community with the Good News of Jesus Love and the life changing hope of salvation.

    Make it a Great Day
    Fred

    1. Fred, that’s a great testament to the way Small Churches work throughout most of the world. We don’t hear about it much in the church growth books and blogs, but megachurches are restricted to just a handful of places in the world. What you describe is the norm. Thanks for being an important part of it.

  2. I think a key to solving the great big or small debate is to look to the book of Acts to see how it was done. After all, you have both mega-church and small group operating in the same chapter. You obviously have 5000+ getting saved yet you see them meeting in one room and having common meals. So the key to it all I believe is networks of big and small. The early believers went from house to house; what it didn’t mention was the size of the house. One day, they could have had 1000 people at a wealthy believer’s house; the next day, five believers might meet in a tent. Acts was quick to emphasize diversity in the Church if we would just look.

    1. You’re right, Jay. It really amazes me that we have what you call a “big or small debate” to begin with. What’s to debate? We need every church or every size and style.

      As you say, that diversity has been in the church since Day 1. Gotta remember that, in addition to the instantly large church of believers in Jerusalem, the 3,000 souls saved at Pentecost were from 16 different nations, regions and language groups (with Israeli Jews making it 17). Presumably, most of them went home within days, taking the Gospel message with them in small caravans of travelers to the far corners of the world.

  3. There was this great idea in a community for all the local churches (35) to come together as one church (just with different meeting locations), serving the same God to see what could be done in that community. It was awesome – check out this video introducing the idea to the local churches: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=500243562563

    Unfortunately it didn’t last as you can only put up with others with differing views for so long.
    John 13:35

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