Tim O’Neill, Exec. Chair
Megachurch or Microchurch:
Does One Have an Advantage Over the Other?
The simple answer is yes.
Megachurches and other large churches can have a substantial impact on a city. They can provide resources and ministries that benefit many inside and outside the church. In addition, they can be particularly attractive to some sectors of the community – children and youth who benefit from programs being run for their age groups, to name just two.
Individual large churches will have different flavours, strengths, and weaknesses.
In recent years, the weaknesses of megachurches have been frequently identified and discussed by Christians.
The late Tim Keller, who planted the megachurch “Redeemer Presbyterian Church” in New York City and led it until he retired, once described megachurches as “poor places for formation and pastoral care”.
This “shortcoming”, Keller asserted, was due to their size. He even went as far as to say this was a “deadly problem” for Christians. See article on Christian Today.
While I’m sure there are megachurches for which Keller’s critique is not accurate, I’m equally sure they are megachurches for which it is. In general, I think it’s fair to say the issues he raises are challenges most megachurches will need to navigate carefully.
But just because micro churches are, in many ways, the polar opposite to megachurches, doesn’t mean that micro churches are problem-free. It’s just that the problems and challenges tend to look different.
What’s Best? Megachurches, micro churches, or something in between?
I think that the question above is the wrong question to ask. I believe that the size of the church – be it mega or micro – doesn’t matter.
What does matter is whether its people pursue the mission of Jesus in line with his commands. That’s when we truly become His body doing his work as he – not you or I –builds his church.
In Ephesians 5:25-26, Paul tells us that Jesus loves the church so much that he died for it and is now purifying it by washing it “with water through the word”.
Jesus is bringing his church more and more into alignment with how he wants it to be, and he will keep on doing this whether the church is mega, micro, or anything in between.
The million-dollar question
A more significant health indicator for a church is how well it is teaching, encouraging, equipping and mobilising its people to obey the commands of Jesus and applying his teaching.
Can we look at the people in the church and see that they are engaged in telling people about Jesus and his good news? Are they involved in discipling people who will follow Jesus by obeying His commands? Are they truly his ambassadors taking his love to both people who are like them and people who aren’t like them?
The critical question will never be the seating capacity of a church and the model we label it with as a result. It’s a far more important one: Can we see Jesus’ DNA in its people?
Tim O’Neill is the Exec. Chair of Exponential Australia and is passionate about seeing ordinary men and women being used by God in extraordinary ways.
Exponential Australia exists to see church planting multiplication become a primary and widely embraced measure of success in the church.
Tim can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org