Friday, March 14, 2008

Churches must not be seen as corporations, ministers must be accessible

One of the things that I try to do with this blog is to make myself available, accessible, and as transparent as I can be. This is particularly important in large churches. The reason is that many younger people who are not church going shy away against any feeling that a church is a corporation run by big shot business executives, only concerned with gaining larger market share.

Dan Kimball, in They Like Jesus Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations, ( relates the experience of one thiry-something who tried to see a minister. "I went to visit a church office, and it felt more like going to a lawyer's office or something. I had to get by the receptionist, who then had another secretary buzzed on a phone intercom. Then I had to sit and wait like I was visiting a president of a major corporation. When I finally walked through the office, it felt more intense and uptight than the broker's office I worked in. I felt more like I was aan interruption than someone seeking spiritual guidance.

Kevin Jacobs was the president of Oklahoma Christian University a few years back.There is a range of feeling about his presidency. But one of the things that he did that was positive was to move his office into the student center of Oklahoma Christian. This physical move sent a strong symbolical message about accessibility and being on the same level as the students."

On this blog I try to respond to as many people as I can. And as I start a new work at a large church, I want to still keep an open profile. I really love all people, and want to be as accessible as possible. So I want to hear from you, and to have you share your thoughts!

Have you ever struggled to think positively about "megachurches" and "megagchurch pastors?" What would make you think more positively of these churches and ministers?


Anonymous said...

I agree with your headline. An organization which is successful, be it a church, a company or a non-profit group, can be a great "case study" for anyone who wants to raise the bar for their particular organization.

Look at Southwest Airlines- the main man is accessible to his employees. He casts the vision and he does not act like a big hot shot. He leads.

Many times we hear negative comments about mega-churches. Many people are jealous when they see success working somewhere other than where they are. People sometimes think the focus is on getting bigger and bringing in more money. Maybe the message is diluted or modified to fit what the public wants to see/hear. Whether there are 5,000 or 100 members, true serving and evangelism can be missing. There must be a leader and a focused leadership team to fulfill the Great Commission.

Here are some points I would make to a church approaching "mega status" or a church which is already there:
1. Create accountability (finacially,etc) for all ministers.
2. Do not make the minister the head person of the church.Many large churches are led by 1 man. Whatever he wants to do, he does.
3. Hire enough staff to cover all the bases. Make the lead minister and other ministers accessible (office layout, office time to meet with members with questions). If time is not made in the office schedule, it won't happen consistently.
4. Have the lead minister and other ministers visit every one of the small groups during the year.

Many times, the leadership doesn't mingle with the "commoners" because there is so much to do.

The elders/deacons must create a mission/vision and list of goals for the church body. They need to hire to those goals and set benchmarks.

I have never gone to a large church (over 500). If I did, I would want to meet the lead minister and the other ministers. I would want to meet with more than just my small group throughout the year, in a non-formal atmosphere. Maybe 3 or 4 small groups get together for a barbeque,etc..

There is strength in numbers. The key is creating goals and managing to those goals.


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James said...


Southwest Airlines is an example of a company that reflects a lot of current cultural values. For instance, there is no "1st class" seating. Everyone is on an equal, first come, first served level.

i think that much of your assessment of megachurches is correct. Some are jealous, and just want to throw stones. As to just getting bigger, that is a huge concern. The fact is, in American culture, size determines success. It is easy for churches to buy into this.

One study has said that megachurches are 16 times less effective in reaching the lost. I think that when you have numbers, it is easy to not question where they come from. It is easier to just attract other Christians than to do the hard work of evangelism. It is easier to be content with great programs for our kids and not put much time or resources to saving the lost.

In a growing area, a church ought to increase in size from other Christians moving in. This, however, is an indication of health. It is not biblical growth. In the NT, all growth was evangelistic.

As to a church being run by one person alone, that has certainly not been the case in our fellowship. Historically, preachers were often treated as hirelings, shut out of meetings and given their marching orders. I have been blessed to be a part of a church where I have been a full participant in meetings and in shaping the direction of the church. I like serving knowing that there are godly men, respected by the congregation, whom I know are "backing me up."

Shepherds and evangelists and the other "gifts" of Eph. 4:11 need to work together towards fulfilling the mission of the church. Without an evangelist involved in this shaping, the mission will become very inward-focused. Without shepherds, people may be converted, but they may have marriages that are falling apart, fail to grow to maturity, and soon fall away.