Don’t Be So Quick to Copy Megachurches, Experts Tell Smaller Congregations

While growing, megachurches also face daunting challenges, new research shows. (Creative Commons photo by Keoni Cabral)
While growing, megachurches also face daunting challenges, new research shows. (Creative Commons photo by Keoni Cabral)

Rather than envying the success of large churches, smaller congregations should focus on their core strengths and remain true to their callings.

Most any pastor of a congregation located near a megachurch has heard suggestions of how to emulate the worship, technology or hospitality ministry of a fast-growing neighbor.

“Yes, I get those,” said Shaun King, senior pastor at Johns Creek Baptist Church in Atlanta.

The Cooperative Baptist congregation is located within 10 miles or less of two satellite campuses of North Point Community Church, the multisite megachurch led by evangelist Andy Stanley.

King said it’s only natural that members or visitors to Johns Creek suggest the Baptist congregation adopt some of the state-of-the-art practices that push North Point weekly attendance to 36,000.

“Our members are neighbors with their members … and rubbing shoulders and learning from each other,” King said.

Recent and long-time research have consistently shown that megachurches have much — including incredible attendance growth figures — to be envied.

But congregational health experts say churches jealous of such trends need to tread carefully in copying the styles of worship and ministry that contribute to phenomenal attendance figures.

Continued growth

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research earlier this month released a “2015 Megachurch Report” that discovered megachurches — congregations of 2,000 members or more — are growing at incredible rates.

Very large megachurches — those with attendance of 30,000 or more — reported a median growth rate of 26 percent during a five-year period, the report said. That’s more than 5 percent growth in attendance annually.

Nearly half of megachurches average five services per weekend and 62 percent of those services are held at multiple locations.

“Overall, the worship at these very large churches continue to be contemporary, highly technological and is self-described as inspirational, joyful, nurturing of faith, thought-provoking, and filled with the sense of God’s presence,” the report said.

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Jeff Brumley