It’s easy to take shots at large churches. Just say “mega” and there can be instant dismissal. And it’s very true that big isn’t always better, notoriety doesn’t always mean noteworthy, “can’t argue with success” isn’t the same as “know them by their fruit,” famous doesn’t always mean faithful, and starting fast doesn’t always mean finishing well. But I am convinced that any church, of any size, can be learned from, and that includes large churches.
In fact, the most common critiques of large churches actually reveal ten of their more significant lessons:
Myth #1: Large churches don’t understand the challenge that comes with being small.
Their insights are thus atypical and not transferable to the average church. The truth is that most large churches started small, often as church plants, and grew through multiple stages on their way to large-church status. As a result, they have the most gathered wisdom for helping smaller churches break through the traditional growth barriers of 70, 120, 200, 500, 1200 and more. No one can help you break through those barriers more than a church that has actually done it.
Myth #2: Large churches are so fixated on outreach that they have dropped the ball on discipleship.
Most large churches are very concerned with discipleship. They are not just into “numbers” or growth, but spiritual formation. In many ways, they have been forced to tackle this area with great diligence. They have so many new attenders from such varied backgrounds, they have been forced to be highly intentional about strategic discipleship classes, mentoring programs, Bible studies and “next steps” processes. As a result, their discipleship offerings are often among the best.
Myth #3: Large churches spend all of their money on themselves instead of the poor.
Most large churches are not spending their resources on simply building their little kingdom, but are among the most generous givers to social causes, justice ministries and international missions. But they did tend to spend their money strategically in their early days to fuel the growth that allowed them to reach the critical mass that enables them to now be such generous benefactors. They didn’t waste their money on things that didn’t produce growth, their missions giving grew as they did, and thus they can offer a window into strategic Kingdom stewardship.
Myth #4: Large churches don’t care about other churches.
Most large churches have a genuine heart to help other churches reach their full redemptive potential. They work hard to develop resources, conferences, seminars and touring events/speakers to serve others. Currently, they produce some of the best resources for other churches, including new music and children’s curriculum.