December 1, 2010 Tony Morgan

Big Churches Getting Bigger: The Adaptability Factor

The other day, I highlighted recent research from the Leadership Network confirming that large churches continued to grow over the last year. I promised to share why I think large churches keep getting larger.

One of the factors that I believe leads to this momentum is the adaptability factor. You would think that a larger church would find it more difficult to embrace change. The reality is that large churches have gotten large for a reason, and one of those reasons is that the willingness to change methods is built into their culture. Not every large church has this in their DNA. (And that’s part of the reason why not every large church is growing.) I really believe the vast majority of large church have this ingrained into who they are.

So, when people think church services are boring and irrelevant to their lives, churches adapt and begin changing their worship services to reach new people.

When the ministry environments have lots of people and the gatherings seem impersonal, churches adapt and begin offering a path for people to connect in small groups and serving teams.

When the culture shifts and raises the value of serving the hurting and the hopeless, churches adapt and begin engaging missional communities and strategies to impact people outside the walls of the church.

When it seems people are less likely to attend services in a auditoriums that seat thousands in buildings that exceed financial feasibilities, churches adapt and begin gathering in multiple locations in smaller venues.

Throughout the years, there have been many folks that have talked about the eventual demise of the megachurch assuming these churches would never shift tactics and philosophies. The reality is one of the reasons they became large in the first place was because they were willing to shift tactics and philosophies. The megachurch today is not the same megachurch it was ten, five or two years ago.

When churches become married to their methods rather than their mission, the church plateaus and eventually declines. Typically, large churches don’t experience this. They have the adaptability factor. They’re willing to change and try something new…even if some of those new initiatives fail.

That’s one reason why big churches keep getting bigger.

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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