More on Mega-Churches

November 4, 2005 by

Ah, yet another article on mega-churches, this time from Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine (that’s where I live!). The Twin Cities are actually a breeding ground for mega-churches. According to the article we have 26 mega-churches, and Minnesota has six of the nation’s seven ELCA mega-churches, and Minneapolis is home to the largest Lutheran congregation in the world (though I don’t know why that surprises anyone—this is Minnesota).

So we’ve got a lot of mega-churches. Anyway, the article covers the usual mega-church ground, but it also has a few interesting comments on church marketing, including the idea that brand loyalty among denominations is dead.

But even more interesting is the sidebar piece stuck at the bottom about Greg Boyd, author and pastor of yet another mega-church in the Twin Cities. But Boyd isn’t interested in business or marketing tactics. He focuses not on attracting people, but challenging them:

“The danger of any church, but especially megachurches, is that by giving people what they need and want, you reinforce the consumer mindset and Christianity becomes like a McDonald’s or Burger King. Where can I go to get the most for the least? The kingdom has to confront that. That’s the antithesis of living in a Christ-like mode.”

That’s definitely a challenge and an interesting debate. But what’s also interesting is how Boyd practices what he preaches: Last year Boyd preached a series of sermons challenging the militarism and triumphalism that swept this country after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. The series resulted in about 1,000 people leaving the church and a 20% drop in offerings.

Post By:

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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7 Responses to “More on Mega-Churches”

  • s. zeilenga
    November 4, 2005

    Hmmm… sounds like the kind of radical blunt christianity I need to hear right now. Its good for you, put hair on your chest… ha ha.
    But, unfortunately, it is probably hard to market around that. How do you market effectively after 1000 people are out on the streets speaking negatively?

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  • kevin
    November 4, 2005

    I think the question really is who are they targeting? The article says those 1,000 people have since been replaced, but it’s a different kind of crowd.
    That’s pretty telling. Those people that left may be speaking negatively, but they’re speaking about what the church stands for. If people hear that and don’t want to come, they probably wouldn’t have put up with Boyd anyway. But I imagine a fair number of people would hear that and be intrigued.
    It’s all about the type of people you’re trying to reach, and Boyd isn’t interested in reaching people who don’t want to be challenged or stretched.

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  • Scott Aughtmon
    November 4, 2005

    This is exactly what Jesus did in John 6. (Especially v. 25-70)
    He had a huge crowd of followers and then, the best communicator that ever lived, starts talking to the crowd about drinking his blood and eating his flesh!
    He could have said “I’m mean this figuratively guys – not literally!” – in order to clarify himself – but he didn’t.
    Why? He wanted to thin the crowds.
    These were the ones who were early asking for more miracles and he said it was just because they just wanted more food.
    He knew they weren’t really following him for the right reasons and so he does what few leaders ever do… He speaks in a way to scare away “followers”.
    Finally, after people start leaving, he looks at the disciples and asks, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”
    And then Peter says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
    You know what’s funny? The disciples were just as clueless to what he meant by all the “blood and flesh” talk! I believe they were some of the disciples who mumbled in v. 60 “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
    They followed Jesus because they knew he was their ONLY hope. They trusted him even when they didn’t understand him!
    I think that’s exactly where Jesus wanted them!
    I think what you mentioned about the pastor above isn’t really about marketing. It’s an issue of leadership. A leader needs to lead people to the truth and a true leader wants committed followers, not just a crowd.
    I think this pastor did the right thing if that’s what he felt God was leading him to teach his people.
    That’s my 2.5 cents! :)

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  • Tony Myles
    November 4, 2005

    I don’t know… there’s something consumeristic about a small church where everyone argues until the loudest voice wins, too.

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  • brand1m
    November 5, 2005

    I think there are certain luxuries that you get when you are the founding pastor of a church; I’ve just never thought of chasing off 20% of your audience as one of them.
    I get really torn when this issue comes up, because, in a perfect world, people would just be drawn to the Gospel, get saved and live their lives as Christians. It seems though, that doesn’t happen that often anymore.
    I have seen some larger churches get very watered down, but I think he made a good observation in the article; you have to stick with what got you there. I see too many churhces trying to reinvent themselves as some different type of church, and I just don’t buy that philosophy.

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  • Sean
    December 1, 2005

    well, I moved to Denver to start a church, with the Lord guiding me. To this city I have never been to before. I just do right you know, preach sin, the law, death, and the judgement, and then after, they understand they are sinners condemned already to Hell I present the Gospel (Good News) about Grace Repentance and Heaven.
    Some call it Hell Fire and Brimstone. I don’t know about that I just know, I would hate to tell some one to pray a prayer and all their problems would go away, and you can even be rich too, ect ect.

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  • View From The Pew
    August 5, 2006

    Greg Boyd and Politics

    So everyone is going nuts over Greg Boyd and his statements concerning Christians and politics. Never mind that the sermon series in question was delivered in 2004 (Church Marketing Sucks picked it up almost a year ago, and it was…

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