Many church leaders look to mega-churches for guidance. The more notable of these mega-churches are Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community in Chicago, Illinois, and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.
Leaders are often drawn to these mega-churches in hopes of learning how to make their own approaches to ministry more effective.
The fast and frightening pace of change in our culture causes many traditional churches to feel as if they’ve lost touch. When ministries are ineffective, leaders who care about the Church ask questions about how to “do” Church better. Unwilling to become stagnant or to accept status quo, these leaders pursue new models for their ministries.
Since mega-churches give an appearance of success, church leaders from far away places rush to them in search of new and more effective ways to do church.
The mega-churches attracting others usually have uniquely gifted leaders with some great ideas for effective ministry. These leaders desire to help other pastors do a better job, but after years of offering conferences and seminars, many of them feel a need to warn participants not to mimic their methods.
Those who try to duplicate the ministry of uniquely situated mega-churches are often disappointed with the outcomes. Well-intentioned efforts to revitalize your church can create serious problems when leaders try to impose methods from other churches.
A better plan
– Jesus said, “I will build my Church….” Matthew 16:18
- Did He do it?
- Is He doing it today?
- Does a pattern emerge as to how He built His Church?
- Is there a plan that transcends time and place?
- Is every Church today being built by Christ?
- How do we know if Christ is building a Church?
- What should Church structure look like?
- What should Church life look like?
There is possibly a more serious concern related to the pursuit of new ways to do Church. Many times it is an indication of a deeper identity crises that cannot be corrected with new methods? Often the leaders who attend these conferences lack confidence in ministry because they lack a solid Scriptural understanding of the Church. The typical program for training pastors does not adequately answer the questions above. This often results in confusion and a pursuit of methods without a clear foundation of God’s plan for the Church. Even worse, some leaders are taught that God’s plan is not very clear on matters that are urgent to the life of Christ’s Church.
A superficial ecclesiology inevitably makes leadership susceptible to insecurity and faulty understandings of ministry.
Leaders must develop and teach a biblical theology of Church. When God’s people are secure in their understanding of what Scripture teaches about the Church, they will be more flexible about methods for accomplishing God’s will for His Church. Teaching must always come before changes are made.
Revisit important New Testament texts like Acts 20:28-38; Ephesians 2:14-22; 4:11-16; Hebrews 3:12-14;10:25-26; 13:17 and I Peter 5:1-4. An investigative study of these passages will save money spent on a trip to the mega-Church.