People hate on megachurches, but they have been EXTREMELY generous to The Bridge. They share amazing, free resources ALL THE TIME with us. Megachurch pastors get painted with bad motives (I used to do it), but my experience with them is they want to see everyone thrive.
I posted the above on Facebook and decided to expand a bit. First, I think I need to confess something…
I used to be the worst offender when it came to seeing megachurches through a purely negative lens. When I saw a megachurch I assumed, “Those guys sold out.”
When you go to a reformed Bible college this is typically one of the results. For some reason (as crazy as it seems), the picture I had for healthy churches were ones that really never accomplished anything, but were “faithful” because they preached things that were doctrinally sound and were willing to do church discipline. Can we just pause for a second and confess how insane it is when our thoughts go negative because we actually see a large church. It’s like we don’t actually believe we have a gospel that saves and a God that moves.
Obviously, I thought, megachurches were full of pastors who water everything down, don’t care about sin, and just want to “grow big and get famous.”
Well, was I in for a surprise.
I got to The Bridge at 23 when The Bridge was 300 people. Now, six years later, it is 1,750 and it is most certainly not because our staff is exceptionally gifted, smarter than everyone else, and simply better. We have been able to reach the lost, grow at a rapid rate, and sustain consistency in a healthy way primarily because of two things:
- God has been incredibly gracious for no reason except he has chosen to move in our midst. It is overwhelming and humbling.
- Churches further down the road than us (megachurches), have been incredibly generous with us: with their time, resources, and knowledge gained over years of ministry.
Suffice to say, the generosity of megachurches to me and my church has slowly but surely changed my perception of megachurches.
What I have found is that they are led by people who deeply love Jesus, love the bride, and are willing to go to great lengths to do things that don’t benefit themselves (or their churches) at all if it means serving other churches and helping them thrive.
Let me now walk through some specifics of how megachurches have blessed me and my church in ways that didn’t benefit them at all:
- First, possibly most importantly is the time they give up to simply talk and answer questions we are wrestling through. Sojourn, Traders Point, Highlands, Austin Stone, and many other churches have sacrificed a lot of time for us to learn from. A couple weeks ago Traders Point had 6 high level staff members take their entire afternoon to simply let us ask a ton of questions. It was extremely helpful.
- Second, systems and structures. Our staff isn’t smart enough to reinvent the wheel. Thankfully, we haven’t had to. Here are some systems we have learned from megachurches: Growth Track (how we assimilate people into personal Bible Reading, Baptism, Community Groups, Ministry teams, Giving, and make sure they understand the gospel and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus- all within their first several weeks at the church), Budgeting (Highlands has helped us move towards having a lot more margin in our budget to be able to minimize risk and seize opportunities). Worship Gatherings (our flow is much better now than it ever used to be and has helped create more powerful services). Staffing structure. It is not easy to scale a church from 300-1,750 in six years from a staffing perspective. We have hit some bumps for sure, but a lot less had we been walking it alone. Guest Services. Summit gave us a MUCH better system for our first time guests and now their initial experience is a lot smoother and more relationally based than it ever was before (and following up with those guests has improved too). There is more here, but this is enough to prove the point…
- Ideas, knowledge, and wisdom. There are a lot of things we have implanted that were phenomenal ideas that weren’t ours at all. Here are some: 21 days of Prayer. It has been so powerful for our church. We do this in three different seasons per year. It consists of praying through a guide as a church for 21 days and having worship and prayer nights in those weeks. New Community Groups calendar. Too much to explain here, but it consists of seasons of rest, when to launch new ones, trainings, and 21 days of Prayer. Knowledge and wisdom: this one is harder to point to, but suffice it to say we have received an insane amount of wisdom and knowledge in literally every area of church life from megachurches that are ahead of us in all these expereinces.
- Resources. Staffing resources. Team Commitments. Kids Ministry Curriculum. Literally every resource Highlands has. Free office space from the megachurch in town when we first got planted. The list could go on and on forever…
All that to say, may the blessings of megachurches continue to rain down.