The point with the first post in this series wasn’t to be all negative about mega churches – the point was that we so easily get blinded by success. We forget to ask the crucial question: does it really fit in our context and the situation we’re in? We skip the crucial process of contextualisation

Not being over the moon about the mega church concept doesn’t mean that one necessarily is against growing churches. On the contrary. What’s perhaps more an issue is what kind of growth we’re talking about. For example, are we talking about biological growth (kids becoming members in the churches they’ve been growing up in), transfer growth (people changing from one church to the next), or conversion growth (people becoming Christians and as part of that process joins a church)? One criticism of mega churches is that they tend to attract members from smaller churches, which puts the smaller churches in quite a difficult situation.

A church can also grow by either adding members to the larger congregation, or it can grow through a multiplication process – for example, as a smaller group (read church) has grown to a specific size, it sends part of that group away to initiate another smaller church group, who in turn sends people away etc… If we look at China it is clear that the underground church has grown through a multiplication of smaller church units (and now we’re talking about a large number of Christians!), and the same can be said about the early church (With the risk of repeating myself, have a look at Alan Hirsch’s book The Forgotten Ways as he’s covering this topic very well). 

Looking at, for example, the economic state we’re in today, the concept of multiplication of smaller churches has some upsides. For example, anyone can do it and with a very limited budget (no need for paid ministers – at least not full time, or expensive services, costly programs, buildings – you can meet wherever it suits you etc). Its pretty clear today – at least in Sweden – that more and more churches and denominations have trouble maintaining their current organisational structures (for example, the Baptist Union – which I’m part of – has to down size their staff with one third as a result of the economic crisis, and they still need to save an absurd amount of money just to meet the budget goals). If the future of the church in Sweden relies on expensive church organisations, services and programs, then I’m not so optimistic about what lays ahead. If the future relies on a flexible, low maintenance grass root movement that multiplies both disciples and Christian communities, than I’m more optimistic. 

Part 1
Part 3

Advertisements