Bigger Churches vs. Bigger People

August 16, 2007 by

In the July/August 2007 issue of Ministry Today, Jack Hayford had a great column about contemporary communication and its effect on the church today. Having known “Pastor Jack” for the last few years, this subject is something dear to his heart but frustratingly difficult for him to communicate given his obvious seniority among church leadership. I am grateful that he does opine on this subject every once in a while even though he runs the risk of looking irrelevant.

“We’re within frightening reach of being able to grow bigger churches while failing to grow bigger people,” Hayford says in his column. He warns of the growing number of “enhancements” available to churches today and says that in and of themselves these are not evil, “but it’s no substitute for leading believers to take up the disciple’s cross and be shaped as his true followers.”

“In our version of the bride ‘trimming to be pretty,’ are we ending with lightweight believers?” Hayford goes on to outline four examples of common service components (music, drama, style and charisma) and instead of damning them, he asks “what do they weight?”

Although the Ministry Today article is only an excerpt, a full version is available on Hayford’s quasi blog/news site at Foursquare where he serves as president.

Full disclosure: For those that don’t know, I am the director of communications for Foursquare.

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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6 Responses to “Bigger Churches vs. Bigger People”

  • A.B. Dada
    August 16, 2007

    Bring them in, show them the Way, turn them back out and let them multiply into others. Sounds like a great end goal, but how many congregations want to see it happen?
    We’ve lost our way, so many of us (myself included) when we focus on mere numbers — how many people are coming? How much are people giving in offerings? How many people show up for certain outreach or inreach events? Numbers, numbers, numbers.
    It’s difficult to diagnose how many attendees are truly followers and are ready to become disciples and then go out and make disciples. Is “church” just a social event, something to do so we feel better about ourselves? Or is “church” a learning experience to drive home the knowledge that billions of people are lost in finding the Way? Or is it a combination of both?
    I don’t have an answer. I do have many questions, though.

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  • Daniel D
    August 16, 2007

    This sounds like exactly what Willow Creek is talking about in “REVEAL,” their new book that shares findings from a 3+ year study they did in their church and in conjunction with six other churches. Amazing and often counterintuative results were found. is their site for the book.
    Not trying to plug my own thoughts, okay maybe I am, but I did share a few insights I picked up from the book at:

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  • Greg Marquez
    August 17, 2007

    I believe the problem has more to do with the way we define disciple. Perhaps the word apprentice is closer to what Jesus had in mind. If we thought that Jesus had sent us to make apprentices of all nations that might effect the way we go about doing it. It’s a lot harder to apprentice 100 (Not to mention 10,000) people that it is “disciple” them as we use that word. Of course, there’s probably not as much glory, or fame, or riches in doing the one as in doing the other

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  • Marc Hagman
    August 18, 2007

    I heard Pastor Jack speak about 6 months ago on a related topic. In part he was addressing how reliant many churches have become on technology. His underlying concern seemed to be that the bells & whistles of technology not only can transform a gathering into an “audience/entertain-me” type of event, but that it can lead to cultivating a culture of Christians that are soft. (This is my extreme paraphrasing of what I remember. Pastor Jack did not have any bit of an accusatory or ill tenor, it was healthy and helpful tone).
    About technology, I love how it makes our lives easier and cooler, but I understand how we need to be aware of danger of it becoming too much of the focus, and thus crowding out the real priorities that a gathering of believers should have–that being focusing on growing strong in our faith and relationship with the Lord.
    It’s in the context of our daily life with the Lord and in living & learning with other believers that we get used to hearing the Lord’s leading. That way, we’re all the more ready to follow His leading when we’re at the grocery store or talking with our neighbor–or for that matter, to be have deep roots for facing tough times with faith and confidence in Him.
    I take Pastor Jack’s article as a let’s-keep-our-eyes-on-the-ball type of encouragement. It seems to me that we need to do that, not so that we avoid technology, but so we use it in a way that supports what we do and doesn’t become what we do.

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  • Eric
    December 2, 2008

    I can definitly relate to the idea of a “soft” christian and the path that leads to one — I only pray you never venture on that road for yourself my Bruhda

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  • Michael A
    June 17, 2009

    Anyone who truly follows Jesus (not what people like Hayford mean when they say they follow Jesus) they don’t need “marketing”, and Hayford is the master of Marketing Churchianity today.
    What a phony and a liar!

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