We tried to be a Mega-Church without the Mega. As you can imagine it didn't work too well. We put together a worship band and advertised how great it was (we really weren't that good). We organized high energy revival services and invited everyone we knew to them. Very few people showed up. We nitpicked at our morning worship service and examined every aspect of it to find ways of improving our worship experience. That only started a big fight that led to the end of our Mega experiment in Mega Ministry.
Why did we put so much energy and emotion into trying to become the next big thing?
Because everyone else is doing it.
A recent poll found that Mega Churches are doing just fine in the current poor economic climate. Giving and attendance are up and many of the churches are looking to increase staff in the upcoming year. That’s awesome news. I wish I was looking at those kind of statistics. This simple poll explains why all of us little guys want to turn our churches into the Mega variety. Everyone thinks more numbers equals more success.
Unfortunately there are very good arguments in the Bible that suggest otherwise.
When Moses didn't come down from the mountain right away, his brother Aaron had a great suggestion; how about making a golden calf? This well-known story from Genesis 32 shows that all but Moses and Joshua went along with the idea and were punished by God for their sin. Apparently going along with the crowd is not always the wisest decision.
When Jesus performed the great miracle of the loaves and the fish, found in John 6, he did it in front of 5,000 people. Not a bad Mega sized audience. Jesus then went off to be by himself, and some of the crowd followed him. Jesus complained that they were only looking for more food, rather than hungering after spiritual things (John 6:26). Criticizing your audience is not the best way of building your personal brand, just ask Oprah.
When Daniel asks the angel; “My Lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” he does not receive an answer (Daniel 12:8-9). He is told that the names of the people who are going to heaven are written in the Book of Life. But neither Daniel, nor anyone else is allowed to know (Daniel 12:1-4). From this story and others I have concluded that God is not so much interested in reaching some cosmically important number. Instead, God is interested in individuals. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life are the ones who have lived righteous lives and deserve to be there. What counts is living the life God wants us to live, not how many names we can squeeze onto the page.
But big numbers are awesome, aren't they? There is nothing like speaking to a packed building full of excited and energized people. There is no better feeling than knowing there is plenty of money in the bank to pay the bills. All of us want to feel successful. All of us want to feel secure. All of us want those big numbers to roll in.
God doesn't care about numbers. God cares about people. Those of us who wish to do God’s work in the world need to focus on ministry to individuals, rather than chasing after big numbers.
God bless you,