This is article was written by Stuart McGregor in 2002 and does a pretty good study on the differences between mega-churches and the humble, average 70 membered, community church.
Click to read the pdf here: http://www.definitive.co.nz/essays/smallchurches.pdf
Once again, like many researchers he says the following about the lie that megachurches pump out that ‘thousands are being saved’:
“The interesting thing about the statistics on church growth is that whilst the bigger churches are growing, it’s not from evangelism… Only 5% of large church congregations are for unchurched backgrounds. This figure is also reflected in the United States, Canada and Australia. The ‘evangelistic triumph’ often heralded by the large Church growth is a myth that needs dispelling.”
One thing that this article should address is the rivalry that mega churches use to distance themselves from humble ministries. Phil Pringle on numerous occasions has made throw away statements why his church is better and why the local churches are dying. Other ministries with ‘1000-member-mind-sets’ have also be-littled various local ministries. (And believe me I get around and have heard-so!)
It’s the local ministries that do soup kitchen’s, help the burnt out (or conferenced-out) Christians from ‘bigger and better’ ministries.
Since 2003, when I discovered the power of local community churches, I realised that they (and I will say they are the truer church) face more persecution then these mega-ministries because it’s these mega-ministries that persecute them! Don’t believe me? The article does kind-of suggest this with the ‘musical chairs’ analogy. It’s the mega-church that says the community church is STILL dying, but not with their help. They want the community church dead and they want to be seen as the truer church while the local churches never saw this as a goal.
It is usually the bigger churches that get media limelight in a bad way. That bad outlook gives non-believers a tainted view and view even the local ministries in that same light (church wants your money! you can’t question! etc).
When mega-churches put on their conferences, they do attract community-based ministries. Unfortunately, the local church generally has to deal with the damage caused by such events due to dodgy teachings, theologies, watered-down-gospels, inspiration to covet great succes, condmenation and striving to get their church like the mega-church, divisions due to controversial things in conferences, anti-christ spiritual attatchments (depending on what speakers do at events), etc.
A few local pastors have made the comment about Hillsong and CCC too that they specifically focus on the Caucasian middle-class -> rich people in the local areas and then leave the poorer up to the community churches to look after. This is true actually. Community churches generally allow the homeless to use their facilities and share their buildings (sometimes for a price) with other churches from different nationalities. This ranges from Caucasian services to Tongan services, Chinese Services, African Services, Korean Services, Malaysian Services, etc. Community churches also allow community events or workshops to use their facilities, truly integrating them into the community – drama, dance, theatre, music, sport, art, childcare, etc.
When events like this are successful, I have seen how dirty and greedy the mega-churches get and openly compete with local churches. Mega-churches DO sheep steal, I have seen them and they also take the fruit of the local churches labor. I have seen this too many times.
This is to only demonstrate that their methods are successful. They do such things to survive and to climb to keep being recognised as cutting-edge or leading the way forward. What this man writes about is what I see in the Australian churches. But it may be the NZ community churches aren’t persecuted by the mega-churches over there.
Might add more to this in the morning. Enjoy this man’s read!
EDIT: As someone else pointed out to me at church on Sunday morning, this is the response to these mega-churches in light of the community-based churches. I’ve been expecting and not expecting this.
You see, mega-ministries and leaders like John Bevere will never say that they are failing. They just ignore the voice of the researchers, trample over the little ministries to prove that their ministry is the “pure, progressive, purposeful, passionate, presence-filled, powerful, prayer-driven, positioned and prosperous“, and then ‘prophetically’ live up to their titles by now suggesting that we need to look at developing small churches or ‘helping’ small churches. You see, Bevere’s “insightful thoughts” and observation of “trends” are what propelling the church forward, not the community churches that have been chugging along the entire time copping the grunt from the bigger circus animals.
I suppose we’re gonna start seeing similar things as to what Hillsong did to GC3: these bigger ministries looking at ’empowering’ local ministries as long as they take on their church brand/identity.