As the saying goes, “The world is going to hell in a hand basket.”
There’s never been a greater challenge for world evangelism, there are plenty of social problems like hunger and homelessness we face here in the United States, Christians are being marginalized more than ever, religious persecution is rampant on a global basis, and that’s just the beginning.
But what are we still debating in the church today?
Hard to believe, but I sometimes think we Christians spend more time criticizing large churches than anything else.
Are there problems in 2,000+ member churches? Of course. But I work with churches of all sizes for a living, and I can tell you that for every case of shallow teaching, bad theology, leadership failures, financial improprieties or whatever the criticism du jour happens to be, I can point to a long list of 50+ member churches guilty of the same things.
From the perspective of a person passionately interested in how Christians engage today’s culture, here are some reasons I think it’s time for a moratorium on megachurch criticism:
1. You had a bad experience at a megachurch? Grow up. There are plenty of bad experiences to be had in small churches too.
Size doesn’t make for bad experiences, people do, and I have yet to find a church without people.
In the last month or so, there’s been a rash of negative stories of pastors screwing up. From what I’ve read, none have come from a megachurch; in fact, they were all leading very small churches.
Fallen humanity is no respecter of church size.
2. Megachurches are not as shallow as you think.
As Roger Olson writes on his blog, “Baylor sociologist Rodney Stark’s (research study) ‘What Americans Really Believe‘ lauds the strengths of megachurches as compared to small churches. Those who belong to megachurches display as high a level of personal commitment as do those who attend small congregations.”
In fact, much of the pioneering work on the most respected Bible study resources and materials are coming from the leaders of large congregations.
3. Megachurches make a dent in communities.
America has cities and towns where it seems like there are tiny churches on every corner. But a single megachurch in that same town gets far more buzz and word of mouth.
That’s not to downplay the importance of small churches, but when it comes to sharing their message outside their walls, most might as well be invisible.
Large churches generate publicity, which generates conversations, which generates more opportunities to share Christ with friends and co-workers.