An Encouraging Mega Church View

An Encouraging Mega Church View

I just came from a one-on-one meeting with a well-known mega church pastor.  This may have been one of the most encouraging traditional-church-related meetings I have had in a while.  The pastor expressed a strong desire to plant churches on a global basis with a focus on small/organic/house-church methods and outcomes like we have in Church Planting Movements (CPM).  He expressed an understanding of the need for small, rapidly multiplying churches that will reach those who would never darken the door of a mega church, or possibly any other established traditional church.

We also discussed leadership capacity and requirements for the various styles and sizes of church.  There are more leaders capable of starting and maintaining small churches than there are leaders who can start and maintain mega churches.  We need to allow leadership to function at the levels required and not expect everyone to have the same training or ambitions.  We need to value the contribution of each leader, wherever the Lord has called him or her to serve.

From my perspective as a champion for rapidly multiplying small church planting, I do see a need for and appreciate mega churches.  Mega churches could be the nexus for information, training, networking/connecting, strategy, and resourcing of all kinds, including human, vocational, business, educational, and financial.  Please do not hear me say that mega churches should drive all this.  They should be facilitators and servants who connect God’s people with the needs of those who work very hard to serve and reach the lost, wherever they may be found.

We must never forget that a church with 10,000 members is as much the Bride of Christ as a church with 10 members.  Both are highly valued by God.  Both have calls from God.  Both have the same purposes and functions defined by the Word of God.  All are needed if we are going to reach the +5 billion lost people on our planet.  When we criticize any church, we criticize the Bride of Christ.  As a husband, I am not too happy when someone criticizes my bride.  How do you think Christ feels when we criticize His Bride?

All strategies are welcome if they equip God’s people to do works of service and reach the lost, near and far, for the cause of Christ.  Whether our churches are large, medium, or small, all are needed to meet the varying needs of people everywhere, and through ministry and evangelism establish relationships that declare to everyone that the Kingdom of God is near, and please let us show you The Way into the Kingdom.

Some of us are called/commanded to go and make disciples, baptize these new disciples in order to establish churches in places not home, and teach these new disciples how to obey the Lord.  The rest of us are called/commanded to make disciples as we are going about our businesses every day, establish and/or grow churches through baptism, and teach every disciple to obey the Lord.

Together we are stronger.  Perhaps this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.´(NIV)

Blessings!

David Watson

Irving, Texas

8 Replies to “An Encouraging Mega Church View”

  1. Hi, Marc. In the discussion I had with the mega church pastor, the intent was to start independent churches that spring out of the Gospel and the local culture. How and what kind of churches that are started is a matter of training, obedience to the Word, and understanding the task. Stripping away one’s personal culture and church culture are the most difficult lessons to learn and implement. Even small churches make the mistake of personal-culture and church-culture overhang when starting new churches. Almost everyone starts churches that feel and look good to them, regardless of what the host culture may think or feel. This is not a mega church disease, but a general problem found throughout church planting. It requires training, commitment, and obedience to the Word to overcome this problem.

    Our real concern should be to plant the Gospel, and allow the Spirit and the Word to bring to life a church that reflects Christ and the local culture, which places minimum barriers between God, His Gospel, and anyone who would know Christ. Obedience-based discipleship redeems that which is in the culture and is counter to God’s will, and enhances that which God desires in all families and cultures.

    Who starts the church is not the issue. How the church is started is the real issue. Putting aside one’s own culture and presenting the Gospel as purely and simply as possible is the key. It takes training, commitment, obedience, and practice to make it work well, regardless of the size of the catalytic church or organization starting the new work.

    Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

    David Watson
    Irving, Texas

  2. David,

    Two quick questions and one comment:

    Questions:
    1. In the case of mega/large, traditional congregations planting small/organic/house-church communities; did you discuss their autonomy vs. them just being “colonies”? Are the smaller communities of saints just satellites of the “mother-ship”?

    2. Won’t the mega just produce after their kind? How pragmatic is it to expect the mega/large to actually reproduce anything but mega/large instead of small/organic communities?

    Comment:
    I commend any congregation that understands that in order to change the current paradigm there is a need to reach out to those successfully reproducing this “new form.” On the other side of that equation though: To be biblically whole, these small/organic communities must not just be little “colonies” or “orbiting moons”. They must be allowed to take another path and even more profoundly: be allowed to embrace a different vision of a people in love with Jesus, each other and their neighbours.

    Blessings!
    Marc

  3. Hi David,

    Having been baptized and served in a Baptist Church in Malaysia, I can see from hindsight the influences of Southern Baptist missionaries in the building of local Baptist Churches. Problem 1 is the wholesale importation of American church practices which remain deeply ingrained in us after more than 60 years. Eg we continue to lose our pastors in the church because of the 2-3 tenure of service offered to each of the Lord’s servants. For better or worse, at the end of the tenure, it became an opportunity to find fault with these servants instead of building them up. Pastors have no security of service with the local Baptist churches and that is not good for the Kingdom’s work.

    2ndly, worship forms remained stagnated with the limited approval of the usage of modern worship equipment and these were antiquated conservative American church worship practices as well. It is definitely important to consider contextualizing to local needs than to impose wholesale megachurch forms on new churches established globally. It is not necessary to wear a tie or a 3 piece suit to preach in a church but it will do good to “look like a roman when you are in Rome”.

    In many parts of the world, Christianity is viewed with suspicion and hence it is needful for mission minded churches to understand local constraints in starting churches. Many unfortunate brethren suffered persecution and jail terms because of their beliefs. It is not practical for North American churches to do “door to door” evangelism on hitting the ground in a foreign land as it invites unnecessary attention and hazards on local believers many a time.

    In my opinion, it is necessary to start churches as independent fellowship groups as you would want to stand up on their own feet in due time. Having colonies invite the type of problems that I am familiar with over here and I certainly think that it is good that you offer the insight to the Mega church pastor as to the shape and size of the type of church to be established. Sometimes, churches do not need a Constitution but only a regular meeting place to feed upon the Word and to fellowship with God and each other.

    Good work.

    From Stephen Wong, Malaysia

  4. >>…in I had with the mega church pastor, the intent was to start independent churches that spring out of the Gospel and the local culture.<>How and what kind of churches that are started is a matter of training, obedience to the Word, and understanding the task. <>Our real concern should be to plant the Gospel, and allow the Spirit and the Word to bring to life a church that reflects Christ and the local culture, which places minimum barriers between God, His Gospel, and anyone who would know Christ. Who starts the church is not the issue.<>How the church is started is the real issue. Putting aside one’s own culture and presenting the Gospel as purely and simply as possible is the key. <>It takes … obedience, and practice to make it work well…<<

    David, how would you recommend the “trainee planter/worker” get this practice. On the converse side of that activity; how would you recommend the trainer/equipper go about providing ground for practice to those being equipped? Again touch if you can on language training and “cultural training.”

    Marc
    just1church.wordpress.com

  5. Hi, Marc. The ideal training of a gospel planter is a multi-step process that requires time and commitment on the mentor’s part and the learner’s part.

    Step 1: Begin church planting in a near-cultural environment that does not require language or extensive culture learning. The new worker should be paired with an experience successful worker who understands Gospel planting to establish culturally appropriate local churches.

    Step 2: As the new worker gains experience and coaches a person of peace in establishing a new church, and then it is time for the new worker to graduate and begin mentoring other near-cultural church planting coaches.

    Step 3: As the worker has coached others to success in finding persons of peace and coaching them to start their own churches in near cultural settings, it is now time to begin cross-cultural church planting in a near-geographic area. This means learning language and culture in order to find persons of peace among cross-cultural peoples who live near in order to start new work. This may be done with a mentor who has succeeded in cross-cultural work, but this can also be done alone with the aid of a language and culture coach who may not be a Believer.

    Step 4: Mentor another person in cross-cultural church planting in a near geographic area.

    Step 5: Move to the homeland or major diaspora area of the language and culture the you have been learning. Further language and culture study may be necessary. Begin looking for the persons of peace who will be coached in starting local churches. If a mentor is available, then spent time with this person. If not, then build a team using the skills and knowledge that have been gained through previous experiences.

    We don’t live in an ideal world, so some of the above may have to be gained through education, finding good consultants, making lots of errors, or partnering with people who know that they
    are doing. Knowing the process is a major part of the battle in learning this system. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but always be ready to learn from mistakes. Bless the local people who let you learn from them in the midst of making many mistakes.

    Church planting is a lifestyle, not a job. The successful church planters I know don’t work at church planting. They live out obedient lives that cause church planting.

    Blessings!

    David Watson
    Irving, Texas

  6. Hi, Stephen. Thanks for following my blog. Thanks, also, to you and other Malaysians for allowing this church planter to do do much of my church planting learning in Malaysia. I know I made lots of mistakes, but I learned from them. I also know that I was responsible for importing some American culture. I have repented of this wrong and am doing all I can to train church planters around the world to be Gospel Planters and allow local culture to determine what their expresions of worship and church will be. I hope we can catch up the next time I’m back in Malaysia. Please give my love and regards to your family and our mutual friends.

    Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

    David Watson
    Irving, Texas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *