It’s been about a year since our family started attending Journey Community Church in La Mesa.
For the past decade or so we had been small church people. Most of the congregations we’ve been a part of (and worked at) were a couple hundred people. But, for a number of reasons, we started attending at Journey last Spring.
There are some obvious reasons people come to a bigger church… things like:
- They do worship services really, really well. I can’t think of a time a technical issue has truly disrupted the flow of a service at Journey.
- The preaching is always for the masses. I’m not sure why, but in smaller contexts the preaching has a tendency to respond to issues within the church a lot more than in a small context.
- Programs. Programs. Programs. Dear Lord! There are programs for anything and everything at a big church. I’m waiting for Journey to start a class for how to start a class at Journey.
- The disappearance factor is high. When you attend a church with a couple thousand people you can be as anonymous as you want. Plus, if you ever need anything— anything at all— it’s all right there at your disposal.
- Big things are possible! When you have a big church with lots of hands available, you can pull off big huge thing after big huge thing. The crazy thing is that since there are so many people… pulling off something huge doesn’t exhaust the congregation in the way it would in a small church.
I’m sure there are more, big obvious reasons why big churches grow. I don’t buy into the idea that God has blessed them more or that their staffs are better or anything like that. I know too many people to think that the case.
But let me clue you in to the big one. One that actually drew us to Journey in the first place.
People who study marketing and specifically those who study the art of sales, know that in order to make an impression on you about they need to triangulate. You need to see a message about that product in 3 different modes. You need to hear about Geico on the radio. Then you need to see a Facebook ad. Then you need to see their gecko on the side of a blimp at a sporting event. When you are looking for car insurance… everywhere you look you see Geico. So you call.
The same factor is super high at a big church.
One reason people end up at big churches is the triangulation of connection. It’s easy to find other people or have a social connection to people in a bigger church even if you never meet them at the church. You just start bumping into them all over. Even when you meet a person whose sister goes to Journey, that makes an impression.
Think about the social connection you make with any stranger… When you meet someone out in the community we each have an innate desire to seek social connection with them. There is always a little dance that happens when two people are getting to know one another. They shake hands or start chit chatting in line at the store, and they start dancing for a social connection. Sometimes its as simple as watching the same TV show. But you’d be surprised how often a church person will find another church person or a person through their church network will be connected to someone they meet in the community.
Part of what is happening that makes a place like Journey grow is that it’s very easy to find little points of social connections.For us, it felt like all of the people in our lives had a connection at Journey. We joked about it feeling like a gravitational pull was dragging us there because everyone we knew went there.
That’s triangulation in action. When you start to use the church as a place of social connection– that’s a powerful draw and it can overcome almost anything.