Mega Churches: Are they God’s Plan for the Church?

“I don’t think mega churches are God’s plan for the church.” Said a prominent denominational leader in a mainstream denomination that I won’t mention…

As an “all in”, no holds barred, member of one of America’s largest mega churches, I would take offense at that statement. I would, except I am working on not taking offense at stupid comments like that. If we die daily to self then dead people are hard to offend, right?

Anyway. Kids, we don’t say stupid. Instead, we say “uninformed” or “ignorant”.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most people who have this view of really, really large churches are not a part of one. I understand. I wasn’t always a part of one either. And I might have been a little suspicious myself before … back when I was uninformed or ignorant. In my journey through life, I have been a part of lots of churches. One as small as fifty… actually fifty would have been a super good Sunday for that church, others with hundreds or a few thousand. Currently, my family serves in a church that has somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 weekly attenders.

I know. It’s kind of mind blowing. That’s really a lot of people. We get it. Trust me. You try parking in that parking lot. Actually, we don’t park that many people in one place at one time. But still, parking is a challenge. Everything is a challenge with a church the size of ours. We love it. It’s nuts.

But does anyone think that any pastor of any church anywhere ever says he wants to pastor a church of that size when he starts out? Let me tell you. NO. He doesn’t. Of course, all pastors want a “good” number of people to show up. They want to “grow” a church to a number that is representative of the work the Lord is doing in the hearts and lives of those close by. But what happens when the work the Lord is doing is really big? Like REALLY big?

I can assure you it is not the pastor’s plan, so it MUST be God’s!

What happens when you follow the Lord’s leadership, humble yourself to His plan, risk it all for the glory of the King, and the people come? And they keep coming… and coming… and coming? And they come to the point that you can no longer comfortably, or uncomfortably, fit them all? At what point does a church decide to turn people away?

How would you like to be on THAT ministry team?

th.jpg“I’m sorry ma’am, sir, but we just don’t have room for you in our church. Here’s a directory of other churches in town that still have room.”

That’s not what you do when you pray and ask the Lord to send the people to you, and He actually does. Nope. You figure it out.

I understand the suspicions surrounding larger churches. People doubt the sincerity of the leadership. It’s all about money or numbers. It has to be. There’s no way God could be doing something this big. No. Way. How insulting that must be to a God who made the infinite universe.

Large churches suffer the same failures that small churches do. Have there been leaders in mega churches that went astray morally or theologically? Absolutely. Just like there have been leaders in all sizes of churches who have gone astray. God will not be mocked for long, no matter what the size of the church. Pastors and teachers of the gospel are held to a higher standard than the rest of us. Their actions will be theirs to account for one day.

The larger your flock, the higher the accountability. Do you think anyone signs up for that?

Critics of really large churches might forget about Pentecost. Remember when the Bible says 3,000 people were saved in one day? God is quite famous for doing big things, and he is always on the alert, looking for people who are totally devoted to Him. It is through those people that He can accomplish great things.

Churches of all sizes have value. One might “prefer” a smaller one with not so many pesky people, but we should go where God calls us. It is completely out of line to say that it is not God’s plan for churches to be so big. What if that’s wrong and it is in His plan? Saying that something is not of God when it is, in my mind, is akin to blasphemy.

I’m up to my eyeballs in the humongous church where I serve and my husband and son are on staff. It’s as authentic a place to serve God as I have ever seen. I have better, closer, stronger relationships in this place than I have had in lots of other places that were much smaller. I have grown more spiritually in the last five years since coming to this place than I had the previous forty-five, and I’m not the only one.

Just ask the other 29,999 folks with whom I go to church.

14 thoughts on “Mega Churches: Are they God’s Plan for the Church?

  1. Thank you for saying this like I so many times wish I could have. I have friends and family who just don’t get it. Reading your post helps me organize my thoughts.
    Your closing sentence sums it up Perfectly!
    Just come try it! Come see for yourself!

    1. Well, I know, Cindy. It is so hard to explain to people who are skeptical. I never would have believed it myself once upon a time. I think it’s easy to point fingers and be suspicious of another’s “success”. I am happy to be where we are, doing what we are doing, with so many people who love Jesus and are intent on following Him. I am so happy to do this thing with wonderful people like you!!

  2. I couldn’t have said this better myself!!!! Thank you, Stacey for saying it like it is, for speaking truth!!! I grew up in a small church where one of the common beliefs was if the church was large, the pastor was giving messages to “tickle the ears” and not really be teaching the gospel or the Bible as it is. That they must be “adding to or taking away from the Word.” I can say that without a shadow of a doubt that our church teaches cover to cover the true Word of God, far more accurately than the church I grew up in. And I too have never had better relationships w/God, friends or even my husband until experiencing what God is doing in our mega church!

    Wonderful post! I love it!

  3. A friend sent me your post on the Mega Church, and as I read it I thought “that sounds like my church”! Little did I know until I read “about the author” that you were indeed talking about MY church. I don’t know anyone who truly comes to Highlands and gets involved who will say they think God has not designed this place and all of it’s campuses. The Holy Spirit is in this place.
    I would love to meet you for coffee one day at Grants Mill, or where ever convenient for you.
    Blessings,
    Kay Ashworth

    1. Just one more reason to love a huge church… A near infinite number of awesome people to meet! Kay, thank you for reading and commenting on this piece. We truly are blessed to be daughters of this house! And absolutely yes to coffee in the GM cafe. I’ll bet we find we know some of the same wonderful people!

      Stacey

      1. Hi Stacy,  If we don’t make a date to have coffee it might not happen.  I have a very flexible life, with the exception of 1 pm on Wed., when my small group meets.  I can stay after a 9:30 service, too!  I greet at 9:30 most Sundays.Blessings,Kay

        Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  4. This is so true! I have so many friends who didn’t understand it when we started going to Highlands Auburn five yeasr ago. Some still don’t get it and I’ve learned to be okay with how they feel. They wonder why we would give up our seats and sit on the floor to watch the message or fight the traffic just to get out of the parking lot. But when you serve and see how the people keep coming week after week after week, you can’t help but be amazed at what God is doing.

    1. Thanks Amy. It truly is something to experience. Being a part of something that is bigger than you, that isn’t all about you, but blesses your socks off anyway is something to behold! You guys keep doing your thing down there in Auburn!

      Stacey

  5. Oh Stacey! Thank you for speaking not only what is on my heart when I try to explain Highlands to my friends…but for speaking the truth! We attend and serve at Riverchase and once I can get someone to visit and give Highlands a try, they feel the presence of God like never before! God is so good!! You put everything into perspective and I appreciate you sharing with us!

    1. Debbie, thanks so much for reading the post and taking the time to comment. It is a great joy to be a part of such a movement of God! Isn’t it fun to bring someone and watch them get it?

      Stacey

  6. Thank you for sharing this! We just moved here from a small town in Arkansas where there are only small churches. I came here looking for that same small church feel, but the Lord led us to visit Church of the Highlands recently and we LOVED it! The energy in the place was unbelievable! We both left there feeling a renewed excitement for the Lord! I came home thinking something has to be wrong with feeling this way. This can’t be right. We went back to visit and felt the same excitement as the week before. AND, being new to the community, I haven’t really met anyone and God placed the sweetest couple next to us that Sunday. BAM! We have new friends! Can’t wait to be a part of this church family and meet more new friends and grow stronger in my God!

    1. Nancy, Welcome to Alabama and Church of the Highlands! I’m so glad you found us. And you are just in time for our small groups semester to start. Small groups are how a huge church can feel small. It’s the best way to get connected and make great friendships. Check out the online directory. It’s very easy! Thanks for reading the blog and taking the time to comment.

      Stacey

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