Here are some more thoughts on the medium-sized church crisis. My post the other day attracted a fair amount of comments and attention… and I was pretty frustrated that people jump to the issue of money.
I only think that the money problems of current are bringing the Medium-sized church crisis to the forefront. At the end of the day I’m meeting two types of churchoers. Once you cut past the nice fluff they say about their churches and preacher they are really either small church people or megachurch people.
What does this mean for medium-sized church? My experience in medium-sized churches is that there is a tension between these two types of people. One is resistant of anything “small church” so stuff that is appealing to the small church is annoying to them and visa versa. Eventually, misguided and unaccepted tension results in hurt feelings, bitterness, disappointment, and a range of other typical medium-church angst.
And that angst is why I’m saying the medium church is in crisis… Eventually, church leaders must chose to lead their church one direction or the other: Lead towards smaller environments or toward becoming a megachurch. The cultural division is causing this squeeze. The financial crisis merely accelerates the trend.
A Personal Example
In Romeo, we mislabeled these cultural issues as a “personal preference issue” instead of a cultural issue. Big mistake! Our small church folks didn’t mind if the worship team wasn’t professional sounding or if the church basement was a bit too homey for potlucks. Small church people find those things endearing… maybe even spiritual.
Meanwhile, the megachurch people wanted everything to be like the megachurch they used to go to and they wanted the church to become. Everything was compared to the megachurch down the road or the stuff they saw on TV or enjoyed at a conference or read about online. To the megachurch people, the failure of the small church people to realize all that Romeo could become was an abomination… a spiritual failure at worse and a lack of vision at best.
See… this isn’t about money at all. Maybe I’ll be called a heretic for this? But, I will tell you what 10 years of church ministry has taught me about giving. Giving has 0% to do with what people are taught from the Bible and 100% to do with whether or not they feel that their money will further a cause they believe in. People are just sophisticated like that. They see right through the pleas for cash to your motivation. When motivations converge they give. When they disagree they give somewhere else. Christians are extremely generous… but they won’t give to a church simply because they go there.
Next, let’s talk about money. I’ve only hinted at it, lets hit it straight away next time.
Then, I want to talk about the superiority of small church and megachurch missions in our culture. This is the core reason for the crisis.