What About Those Sheep-Stealing Megachurches?

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Are megachurches actually reaching new people for Jesus, or are believers gathering into ever-larger groups, leaving crumbling smaller churches in their wake? (A phenomenon commonly called sheep-stealing or sheep swapping.)

Megachurches keep getting bigger while small churches seem to struggle more than they used to. Since these two phenomena are occurring at the same time, it’s easy to think that one (megachurch growth) is the cause of the other (small church struggles.)

My take is that, while the two are related, it’s not a direct cause-and-effect.

Read more at Pivot

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2 thoughts on “What About Those Sheep-Stealing Megachurches?”

  1. I really love a lot of what you write, Karl, but I think this one kind of misses the point. I think small churches do generally struggle more due to large churches close to them. It’s just a fact. There’s no use in blaming others, true. But we don’t need to deny the facts, either. Even if I can understand perfectly when a family leaves our church because they want a top notch youth program for their kids, that still means we lose workers, finances, and morale. And just taking a hard look at our programs, and at Jesus, and trying even harder won’t necessarily change any of that. And I am certainly already busy enough! – – — to try to put a positive note on it, here’s an analogy that helps me: in any large hospital, there are the normal stations, and there is the intensive care unit (ICU). There are much fewer patients in the ICU, and they need much more care. But when they’re well enough to be moved to a normal station, there’s no jealousy on the part of the ICU nurses. They are happy for them. And the ICU nurses aren’t always wishing they could have as many patients as the other stations. Each type of station has its own purpose. So our (very) small church is like a spiritual ICU, and the other churches are the normal stations. But the ICU is also where the very best nurses are required…

  2. I really love a lot of what you write, Karl, but I think this one kind of misses the point. I think small churches do generally struggle more due to large churches close to them. It’s just a fact. There’s no use in blaming others, true. But we don’t need to deny the facts, either. Even if I can understand perfectly when a family leaves our church because they want a top notch youth program for their kids, that still means we lose workers, finances, and morale. And just taking a hard look at our programs, and at Jesus, and trying even harder won’t necessarily change any of that. And I am certainly already busy enough! – – — to try to put a positive note on it, here’s an analogy that helps me: in any large hospital, there are the normal stations, and there is the intensive care unit (ICU). There are much fewer patients in the ICU, and they need much more care. But when they’re well enough to be moved to a normal station, there’s no jealousy on the part of the ICU nurses. They are happy for them. And the ICU nurses aren’t always wishing they could have as many patients as the other stations. Each type of station has its own purpose. So our (very) small church is like a spiritual ICU, and the other churches are the normal stations. But the ICU is also where the very best nurses are required…

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