A couple of weeks into this thing and I’m realizing that yes, as I mentioned before, a mega-church isn’t just a larger version of a small church, but also that there are some fundamental similarities.
For instance, one of the challenges of any church is striking the balance between the past, present and the future. I find myself thinking of it this way:
What is cannot be allowed to dictate what could be, but what could be cannot be allowed to overshadow what is.
In other words, where we’ve been, which is inextricable from where we are now, must not keep us from moving into new territory that God calls us to. But, you cannot just teleport a church into new territory…we always have to move from where we are to where we should be gradually and in ways that honor and respect all that has come before. That’s tricky business, but it’s also very biblical: when the Israelites set up standing stones as they moved into the Promised Land, they were commemorating what they had seen God do in the past, and it was precisely this commemoration gave them confidence to move into new territory.
The danger with all churches – and in some ways it is magnified a thousand-fold in a mega-church – is that the past/present has huge weight. That weight is both historical and personal. It is historical in the sense that there is a huge weight that comes from what God has already done in growing a church into a mega-church. It is personal in the sense that a mega-church has a LOT of people who have opinions, hopes and dreams for the church going forward.
And here’s the thing about huge weight: weight produces both gravity and inertia. The weight of any church – just multiplied with a mega-church – can have a gravity that keeps it from moving forward at all. But the weight of any church also can also have an inertia that keeps it moving in exactly the same direction it always has. Managing both the gravity and the inertia requires truly understanding, valuing and honoring what has come before in order to catalyze movement into the new territory God calls us to. This what I mean about striking the balance between not allowing what is to dictate what could be, but also not allowing what could be to overshadow what is.
That’s a challenging task for any church leader. I felt it keenly in my last, much smaller church…and now here in a mega-church the challenge is all the more profound.