The Incredible Shrinking Megachurch

August 9, 2005 by

NPR covers the satellite efforts of megachurches, that have them shrinking back to smaller sizes.

“It’s our desire to be a local neighborhood church again,” says Jim Tomberlin, the regional pastor for Willow Creek Community Church. The idea came when they realized people were driving more than 30 minutes to come to church, which kept them from being involved in the life of the church. The multi-site efforts allow churches to be both big and small.

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Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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3 Responses to “The Incredible Shrinking Megachurch”

  • Anne Jackson
    August 9, 2005

    We currently have one satellite venue but are starting regional campuses all over the KC metro. We are on the far west side of the metro (thus the name Westside Family Church) and we have people coming 30-45 minutes. So we will build east and out of our white suburbia into all parts of the area reaching all kinds of people with truth. :)

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  • Justin Broome
    August 10, 2005

    And Willow Creek is doing that with video technology, with pre-recorded sermons on DVD and elaborate simulcasts on video screens.
    Why should a congregation form authentic relationships with others when the church isn’t even putting a live body in front of them? Is seeing a dynamic speaker on a DVD or on a video screen better than having a real person in front of people? The last I checked, the church didn’t grow in Acts 2 through the disciples “reading the words of Jesus from a scroll.” It grew when the disciples went out and taught face to face, and built relationships with the people.
    I’m a tech geek. I love my palm pilot/phone/mp3 player, but if I had gone to church only to see a video of a pastor and not have a live person in front of me, I never would have gone back.
    Technology is great, but it will never have the same impact as a face-to-face relationship with someone who loves God with all their heart.
    Remember, people aren’t going to church because their life is perfect and wonderful and they are completely content. They are going because they know something is wrong, they feel a need in their life or they are hurting and all they know is they want the hurt to stop. Lets not deprive them of the chance to form an authentic relationship with both God and others around them simply because the DVD was an easier/cheaper alternative for us.

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  • Anne Jackson
    August 11, 2005

    At our church, each campus has a real life pastor and several staff members that watch over the venue. We have a live worship band, and Jim, our face-for-the-place pastor is constantly on stage for welcomes, prayers, etc. We also make sure we have many volunteers for the venue.
    Most of the people that go to the venue are “core” Westsiders that have generously opted to go there in order to free up spaces at our prime-time services, so more guests can come in – because our 9:30/11:10 services run at over 100% capacity all the time.
    There is also a cafe in our venue, where community is encouraged, not forced, but happens regardless.

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