Why I Can’t Handle Large Churches (Any More)
First off, this is not a condemnation of large churches, and especially not of any particular one in the region (ahem). I am sure there are some large churches that do some amazing things…but their size makes certain things much more difficult. Not impossible, but more difficult. There are some large churches that while I’ve never been involved with, I highly respect. Secondly, I acknowledge that much of this is based off of my personal experience and your mileage may vary. Be that as it may, this is my post…my thoughts.
Here’s an anecdotal and quite truncated story: I was, in the 90’s, heavily involved in a large church. (Some even call it a mega-church…but whatever.) Attended, volunteered, at points was on payroll for part-time AV work (events, weddings, etc), and even did my ministry internship there. Like I said, heavily involved. One particular wedding toward the end of my time there, I was getting the longtime senior pastor wired up with his lapel mic, and he had no clue who I was, like he’d never seen me before. That’s point #1 I’ll be making later.
Toward the end of my internship at this church, I was invited to direct a ministry there. After praying and thinking about it (for a very short time), I declined. I was not a fit for the church, and I knew myself well enough that I knew it wouldn’t be a good fit. Would have been a great career start? Absolutely. But it was not me, nor was it where I believe I was being led.
Fast-forward a couple of years after I’d left a position at another nearby church, and we were looking for a church to attend, and visited…and with the exception of two of the gazillion associate pastors, we were virtually ignored during the times we visited…not even an acknowledgement from the one I did my internship with (there were some other incidences later on that added to this, so this isn’t just some flippant judgment, but won’t go into those now). That’ll be the other points I’ll be making.
So…here we go:
Point #1: In larger churches it is far more difficult to truly connect. Even for the pastors.
Point #2: In larger churches (staff-wise), it is far more difficult to be who you really are. You must look a certain way, act a certain way, be the example of “success” they define. Those also are the reasons I said no to the offer.
Point #3: Larger churches tend to be more political. Too political. Almost to the point of running like a well-oiled Mafioso…and if you, say, turn down their offer, for example, you are dead to them. Enough said.
Point #4: Larger churches tend to lean far more on programs to serve than people in the pews serving. Those people give money to those programs to do the work (with some exceptions) rather than doing the work themselves. That’s not to say the programs can’t be helpful, bit they often get away from the personal connection to meeting those needs that we are called to have.
There are other points I could make, but they didn’t fit into the anecdotal story. (This study, for example). Perhaps another time.
So, whaddya think? Am I way off-base, or on track with some of these thoughts?
First off, this is not a condemnation of large churches, and especially not of any particular one in the region (ahem). I am sure there are some large churches that do some amazing things…but their size makes certain things much more difficult. Not impossible, but more difficult. There are some large churches that while I’ve…