I was reading an article on a rural tiny church that now reaches 2000 people in a multi-site context…when a commentor struck a chord in my brain.
I am all for the church growing through evangelism, but it sounds to me like [Brave New Church] is drawing less from the unchurched and more from people leaving another church to be a part of it. Of course, if they are getting saved through the ministry of BNC, that’s great (and also a sad indication of the weakness of other congregations in terms of real evangelism). However, I wonder about whether there is a kind of “Wal-Mart effect” in small communities of having one large church with whom the smaller churches simply cannot compare programatically, etc.
It has to be true: we see the phenomenon as mom-and-pop stores lose out to big-box stores, and local bookstores (ran by Meg Ryan, of course) lose out to
Fox Books Borders. In a consumeristic culture such as ours, is there any wonder that it could definitely be a part of the Church?
Of course, just because the Wal-Mart Church is happening doesn’t answer the question if it is right.
In an interview with Ed Young back in 2006, he is asked this very thing: “Is there a danger of “Wal-Marting” nearby competing churches into oblivion”and Ed replies that “That mentality is like ants fighting over which one is going to eat the elephant.” But a contemporary at the time had much more to say:
Our country is full of consumeristic expectations which drives our “customer is always right,” “get it in a half an hour,” “have it your way” mentality…If you are inclined to see the church as a place to get your felt-needs met, then this model might work well for you since you can get the programs you want, in the amount of time you desire, with a well choreographed staff. Parking ministry, singles ministry, college-age, high-school, and youth groups galore might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Hey, there’s enough fish in the sea, right? We should celebrate one church’s success and be thankful that people are getting filled, right? On one level, yes. But on another level, like small stores that slowly are ran outta business no matter how amazing they are, churches could try to match Wal-Mart Churches toe to toe and end up getting burned and losing their mission and identity:
I say all of this because I am concerned that those churches which are trying to go deep with the gospel and see emotional/racial/social/and economic wounds healed, may feel the need to keep up with a monster like [the Wal-Mart Church] moving into their neighborhood.
Setting aside whether multi-site churches are too uniform and homogenous to truly get at the deep issues, what do you think about this concept of well-funded and method tried-and-true churches becoming multi-site and radically transforming rural communities?
- Is this awesome in that it brings in new people and turns stagnant communities into viable places for ministry, churning out new or renewed followers of Christ in their communities?
- Is this bogus in that it sucks away marginal members of small congregations who still fund or support the church and thus make it harder for them to remain in ministry in their particular niches, which the multi-site congregation may not pay attention to?
Thoughts? Welcome to our visitors and we welcome all comments!