Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

The Primary Red Flag with Mega-Churches

I have no issue with mega-churches – many of them are my clients.  But my concern is not with size, but with values. The larger you grow, the more  utilitarian, compliant, standardized, and corporate you tend to become. Large organizations by their nature rely on templates, and have a more difficult time encouraging creativity, innovation, spontaneity, and tolerating mistakes.

My friend Erwin McManus, leader of Mosaic feels that larger churches often become about meeting their own needs, not empowering people to meet the needs of the world.  It’s hard to argue with.

Smaller organizations are often more nimble, react to change more quickly, and know how to innovate.  So if you’re a leader or member of a large church, never get so big as an organization that you cease to create, encourage spontaneity, innovate, and change.


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  1. Amen, Phil.

    Awhile ago I worked at a mega-church. Great pastor & people. But one of the downfalls to even greater success was the fellowship's inability to be innovative and spontaneous. Creativity was stifled. There was fear of risk. Innovation went through layers of leadership until a race horse became a 2 humped camel – the original idea was so severely tweaked it didn't look like the original after so many threw in their input.

    The other issue was decision-making. The process, mostly, came down to what the pastor thought. But because he was so busy – and with a burdensome speaking and travel schedule – decisions large and small often went weeks or months without an answer. Paralysis. Inertia.

    Your comment about smaller churches being more nimble might very well be on target. Simply because of their compact size and shorter threads of decision-making, these fellowships can respond to needs more quickly…and are fare more willing to try something new and innovative – because the risk is less.

  2. We've seen this first hand, unfortunately.  I believe the biggest casualty for the larger churches and for those trying to acquire mega status is its people.  There's this slow but surely shifting of focus that moves from ministering people to administering people (along with all the over head that comes with management technology, facilities, equipment, etc). Granted, we've seen some that have been able to pull it off, but its rare.

  3. The greatest concern I have with Churches as they get larger is that it is the nature of organizations as they grow larger to serve their own needs and to sacrifice individuals to that.

    I've seen some instances where that has been minimized through intentional leadership, but unless that vision is maintained, eventually there comes a time where due to a change in leadership or perhaps extraordinary needs and circumstances that vision dies and the organization enters the normal life-cycle of decline that Churches seem to generally follow.  The problem is that by the time people can read the signs and see the quantitative and qualitative decline, it's too late to change much. 

    The time to address the problem is before the curve starts down and few there are with the vision and wisdom to see it.

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