Eugene Cho

my only mega-issue with megachurches

mega church

I really don’t have an issue with megachurches themselves per se. In fact, there’s much to appreciate; it’s amazing how so many people are able to gather in one space – to hopefully – takes steps deeper in the larger mission of both that local church and the larger Missio Dei. If people are coming and growing in Christ, I’m encouraged and excited.

While people may have various issues with megachurches, I think it’s best to simply see them for what they are: another expression of the body of Christ. And we need different expressions that are faithful to the proclamation, declaration, and incarnation of the Gospel.

And while people have their opinions on them including the angle of ‘consumeristic,’ we should all acknowledge that each and every single person is a consumer on some level.  Every one of us.  And the folks that deny that apparently struggle with lying.

And so each church and ministry – no matter what size –  have to wrestle with the balance between catering to the consumption of the flesh and the ministry to the soul.

Having been on staff of a church of 25,000 people for couple years, I grew a deeper appreciation for this church, its senior pastor, and its ministry (Seoul, Korea).  Since my departure from this church in 1996, its since grown to nearly 70,000 people and still as missional minded as ever.

Several months ago, I was speaking and attending a conference and very much enjoyed the refreshing thoughts of a megachurch pastor who responded to the criticisms of megachurches.  His [paraphrased] response to ‘insecurities':

Stop investing so much energy into what you’re against.  If you dislike the megachurch so much, then create something more beautiful that will compel people to participate in your church and vision.

I loved that because it speaks to what I’ve been trying to communicate to my church and others:

We often live as people who are defined by what we are against and not necessarily, what we are for.  Imagine how our lives can be an agent of change when we live FOR truth, beauty, meaning, and causes.  Deconstruction is clearly, more fun and draws larger crowds (or traffic to your blog!). Creating and constructing new culture is much more difficult but imagine the possibilities.

So, what’s my ONE issue with megachurches? It actually has nothing to do with the megachurches themselves per se.  I’ve been told by numerous folks (including the aforementioned megachurch pastor above) that megachurches only comprise 1% of the churches in North America. This stat is often used by folks to share “the megachurch” isn’t a big issue or problem since there are so few of them.

I get it, understand, and agree with it.

But then why are that the majority of the conferences revolve around the megachurches and their pastors?

This is my issue and concern. I think megachurches and their leaders are doing phenomenal ministry.  I really do.  But we’ve elevated this 1% as the epitome and face of a successful ministry and created a machine of conferences, publishers, books, and networks based on this very limited expression.

Like others, I’m interested in hearing from Groeschel, Stanley, Jakes, Gibbons, Keller, Bell, Warren, Blah blah and other “big hitters.”  But if we’ve limited the expressions of the church to this supposed 1%, what are we saying?  What’s the message we’re conveying?

There are many wonderful and faithful pastors in our local neighborhood and cities – that you’ll likely never heard of – but they should be heard from.  And if you happen to be of them reading this entry right now:  Thank you for your ministry, faithfulness, and leadership.

One more story and I’ll end this entry:  During my pastorate in Korea, I grew enamored by this particular megachurch and the senior pastor (who I still consider my pastor).  But I was blown away when he shared with me one day that “this church really isn’t church.”

He knew my tenure in that church and in Korea was going to be short and he wanted to convey to me not to be too influenced by this megachurch. One week, he sent me away on a “vision trip” and arranged for me to visit small rural churches in various remote areas of South Korea. I still remember what he shared:

“Don’t pay too much attention to what we’re doing here.   Go and visit these churches.  Meet with these pastors.  Serve at these churches. Learn what you can because they are advancing the Kingdom of God.”

We all comprise the Body of Christ.  I just want to make sure folks know that the Body is much more diverse that what we see on the Big Screen.

Filed under: christianity, church,

57 Responses

  1. bl78 says:

    There are pros and cons about any sized church. Small, medium, large, extra-large, super-size, double-double, monster-style, Texas-style or whatever, God works through theses different sized churches for different purposes. We can make a list of what we like and dont like but overall, all should love God with their heart, minds and strength more than ministry.

  2. steve s says:

    thanx, that was great…

  3. Jezla says:

    Excellent post, Eugene, and I agree with you.

    I’m reminded of what my Bible study teacher says: “The CHURCH is not the building we go to on Sundays, nor is it the group of people we worship with; that’s our congregation. The CHURCH is the entire Body of Christ (which is every believer in the world). We don’t go to “church,” we go to worship.

  4. Benny Salas says:

    Eugene, feeling the posts! At Exponential09 this past April in Orlando, I had the opportunity to hear Groeschel speak on this very issue in which he stated: “Stop calling us a Mega-Church when thousands and millions of people are not connected to Christ. We are a small Church with a Mega-Vision.” What a powerful statement from one of the most respected leaders in our modern-day movement. I couldn’t agree more with you, and I would further challenge the notion that most of these conferences do the same thing, just packeaged differently. It’s not being negative, but the idea that the pastor who has been in a community for years, working with families, reaching the poor, struggling in not a effective because his church is not as big, give the wrong idea, especially to Church Planters that in order to be successful, your church has to be big. To be honest, our churches should and need to reflect grwoth because the harvest is much to gain but the Mega-mentality sometime breeds mega-pride.

    Like you said we need all types of churches in the Body of Christ and if were bringing transformation to people lives and communities then continue to serve in the capacity that God has call us too.

  5. Gregory Walker says:

    This is great conversation. There is opportunity to grow with so many outside of the church (body of Christ). Why not mega? Was not the mega church brought to our attention in the book of Acts when 3000 joined the body of believers in one day? Nothing new under the sun. God bless the 100 member congregation and may the Mega mindset not interrupt us! Keep growing …

    Peace

  6. Tyler says:

    One thing I would add is that most mega churches start out small and end up reaching a lot of people. I see very few reasons this shouldn’t be celebrated. I agree that we shouldn’t make their pastors out to be super human and have them lead us in everything (conferences, books, etc), but clearly they had a vision that caught fire.

  7. I think, like you said, that part of the problem is that the voices of mega-church leaders is just so much louder than the neighborhood choices. Books, conferences…all geared to show the rest how to do “ministry like the big boys.” I haven’t met many mega-church pastors that actually think like this, but it is the message that is being sent nonetheless. Maybe it’s because pastors at smaller neighborhood churches don’t have the time or the resources to write books and put together lectures for conferences. Maybe it has to do with the breakdown of the pastor/theologian model. Maybe it’s because we worship those who are powerful and influential on a monumental scale. It makes me sad, though. I’ve been on staff at a mega church. I’m currently on staff at a small church. They are both wonderful bodies. I have learned at least as much (probably more), however, at the small church. Different, both good. But the experience of these mega-churches pastors and leaders and congregants are not the same as most of us…so why do they have such a disproportionate voice?

  8. Deidre Howell says:

    i would like to mention that it is important to not let the large group mentality be “more right”.

    sometimes, i think that humans want to be like sheep and just follow and when there are more people doing something, that other individuals see it as more powerful/ more right….which should not be the reason for going/ following/ participating.

    do the smaller churches ask more questions, leading people to look inside themselves and grow from within? and the megachurches (more)’tell’ people what to think/ read?

  9. ziwei says:

    This is quite a tough question, with church sizes. descriptions aside, to have a common mind and heart and be connected as the body of Christ. how this feels like, only experience (like in that small rural church) will tell. as to the issue with a larger church and the worldwide church, I think it’s possible, as long as we don’t give up and give in to being structures, schedule and program centered.

    I also wonder how it’s like to be led by the Holy Spirit like the early church was. perhaps that will answer many of our questions.

  10. greg says:

    Eugene, you seem like one of those pastors that are insecure about numbers. Just do your ministry and be faithful.

  11. @greg: eugene doesn’t strike me as the insecure type. There are a few things he deliberately does at Quest that probably keep his numbers down (membership requirements, etc).

    @eugene: thanks for this. This is so much more mature than the unorganized thoughts I had floating around in my head about megachurches. I was probably on the “rah rah take ‘em down” bandwagon without any good reason. Being someone who was saved in a Seventh-Day Adventist church I should know better than to think God is working in all forms of church.

  12. stephanie says:

    I regularly attend two churches.. one averages about 50 people, the other is a multi-site/multi-service church of probably 8,000. Some people are turned off by the bigger church.. but it grew because it is doing something right. The pastor and the staff there are great. If thousands of people are flocking to specific churches, then obviously something good must be happening there, right? Sometimes I think that when people have lots of terrible things to say about huge churches, there’s either a bit of jealousy or a lack of understanding.

    My only real issue with megachurches is when their parking lots are so big they have to label them “LOT C” or different sections based on books of the Bible. :)

  13. Dave says:

    This is another great post, and very good comments. But I am startled by Greg’s comment – I think it is intended to be encouraging, but in addition to being false (I know Eugene well enough to assure you that this is not true of him), it comes off as presumptuous and patronizing.

    If you know him well enough to have real insight on this point, then speak to him about it personally so that you can edify him. If you don’t know him well enough to speak to him personally about it, then you don’t know him well enough to know his heart on this matter.

    In this post Eugene is honoring everyone from all types of churches, so it seems it seems unconstructive to make such an inaccurate and uncharitable assertion.

  14. Steve says:

    The issue isn’t really that all conferences revolve around megachurches; the issue is that megachurches get more coverage than smaller churches. This is because the media typically slant their coverage toward megachurches due to the fact that megachurches are simply better known (the name factor). This is also because the media as a whole does not know how to cover the church since they are not well-informed about evangelicalism. The media assume that all evangelicals are the same, but when in fact they are variegated, diverse, and possess multiple expression in different locales (as you alluded to). Until the media can come to understand evangelicalism in this country is deeply complex and nuanced phenomenon, megachurches will continue to be seen as the representative of what it means to be Christian in the U.S.

  15. Hydrangea says:

    I’ve visited a mega-church once and didn’t feel like blended in. I felt disconnected, lost, and distracted by mega-programs, music, lights, & building. This is just me.

  16. greg says:

    My motivation wasn’t to be disrespectful so I apologize if it came out in that manner. Sorry Eugene.
    But we spend too much time worrying about other things, churches, or pastors and I was simply stating that we should focus on our respective leadership.

  17. ben says:

    well put. I’m really impressed also by what your pastor said. It’s easy to put megachurches in a box and criticize them all together, so it’s helpful for me to hear real-life examples of how they’re another expression of the beauty of the body of christ.

    with that said, there are some conferences out there specifically for smaller churches. whatever one’s feelings about presbyterians for renewal might be, they run a series of conferences called “Wee Kirk” targeted towards smaller congregations.

    bigger churches have conferences in part because they’re the only churches with the resources to do so. organizations can step into those shoes a bit too though.

  18. rich sclafani says:

    thanks eugene! great words. sorry i couldn’t make it to the nw.hothouse meeting today. things are crazy busy around here. hope you are well and if you think of it please be in prayer for CC it looks like we may have our new lead decided on within the next week or two. grace and peace to you. -r

  19. Thanks for sharing this and what the pastor in Korea encouraged you to do… to visit the churches in the rural communities. His honesty about what place his church takes in the body of Christ is much needed.

  20. Ryan says:

    great post, Eugene. I go back and forth on my opinion of mega churches though right now I’m pretty indifferent to the size of the church. Since departing from our brief but great tenure at Quest and moving to Kirkland, we’ve been at First Pres. in Bellevue and been impressed at their missional focus on the east side. I had some serious biases and opinions of the east side they’ve helped erode. The reality is with mega-churches come mega-bucks and the ability to do more. Look at Saddleback’s work in Africa or First Pres’s work with at-risk youth in Bellevue.
    It seems to me God is big enough to work through any size group. Your point about who becomes more “public” (celebrity) is an interesting one. I’d say you are an example of someone bucking this trend, as well as Shane Claiborne. It will be interesting to see how gifted leaders at smaller churches will be able to leverage social networking tools to influence a larger audience as they become known.
    The other issue I was thinking of relates to what we tend to “count” as Christians – which is big things. Big crowds, big events, etc. Which is unfortunate because my suspicion is that this causes people to not “count” much of what they do in the day-to-day as acts reflective of who God is in their life – if you share Jesus at the bus stop with a stranger, that counts. If you take a gallon of milk to your elderly neighbor who couldn’t get out last week, that doesn’t count (though it should). I think the same applies to who we give our attention to.

  21. Lars says:

    thanks, I resonate a lot with your thoughts on this!

  22. Wayne Park says:

    that last story about the challenge from the large church pastor to go visit the countryside rural churches… man that gets me right here.

  23. mark riddle says:

    good stuff. it’s also interesting to me that it seem that the conferences on leadership are set up in such a way to learn from these leaders, yet my experience tells me not a single one of these leaders on the stage presenting learned to be a better leader via this kind of set up.

  24. brian king says:

    thanks eugene, for the encouragement to us “not-so-mega” pastors. I had two similar experiences, one in rural Louisiana, the other in the bush in Kenya, the church is so beautiful not to be seen through one lens alone!

  25. Matt says:

    Wonderful! I was near tears at the end of this post. Thank you.

  26. eugenecho says:

    @greg: apology accepted but i’ve got thick skin. no big deal for me. but you are right that i have my share of insecurities.

    @wayne: congrats on baby #2. let’s see some pics.

    @matt: very cool.

  27. beege says:

    Eugene, I’m curious about what sort of membership requirements you have at Quest, and how you find they enhance your ministry. Thanks! :)

  28. et says:

    i am an ordinary member of a megachurch in southeast-asia. i was saved there and have been with them for coming to 10 years. i have been happily serving in one of it’s ministries for a few years now. despite not attending a cell group, i still feel very much part of the church. i personally feel that the responsibility to integrate ourself with the church lies more with us than with the church. i also tithe regularly and joyfully to the church.

    in all my 10 years i LOOK FORWORD to church every Sunday. it is my “lifeline” and my highlight of the week. i emerge from every service refreshed and reborn. my spiritual energy gets a mega boost and my perspective on life realigned with God’s every Sunday. i have not missed a single service in my 10 years with them, unless i am out of town. our church started really small (only a handful) in a typical public housing flat. it grew to 18,000 in 25 years but only started drawing attention about 10 years ago when there was a burst in growth. when i started we were already moving towards the “mega” category with about 3000 in our congregation. in my early christian years, i couldn’t understand why anyone would not like going to church. i do not have many experiences outside my own church to compare with. since people here are always so eager to come to church i figure that is the way it is. around the same time that i joined this church, people started queueing up for services. the queue grew and grew and attracted curious stares from people around the vicinity and along with it some unwanted attention from the media, as well as from the local christian community, which later drew all kinds of mean spirited comments and criticism on just about everything, from our size and our message to what our pastor wears, and accusations that something fishy must be going on. we have been called all sorts of names including a “cult”. i was still a very green chirstian then and for the first time i had doubts about my church and my pastor. during that difficult period, i was discouraged and disillusioned but i kept going to church because going to church was about God anyway. after many rounds of inner battle and lots of confusion plus many prayers asking for god’s direction, i finally asked myself, what keeps me coming to this church every sunday? was it a sense of the familiar since i’ve not had many experiences with other churches, was it the charismatic senior pastor who preaches with such passion for the Word and for Christ, was it the great music from the excellent worship team who successfully ushers us into God’s presence every week, was it the diversity of the people, was it the quiet efficiency of a well organized church since i always like order in my life, was it the comfort of the venue, was it the children and youth programs for my kids, was it the anonymity that i like because i’m not exactly a very social person by nature? what was it?

    my not very short answer is, it was A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING but the main, most important reason that kept me returning every Sunday is the compelling way Jesus Christ is lifted up and unveiled in all it’s beauty and perfection from every angle, every Sunday and with that, everything else in the chirstian walk slowly falls into place on it’s own without having to focus too much on them. i am not ashamed to credit my senior pastor for bringing fresh bread from heaven every week and turning our hearts to Jesus while raising leaders to strive for excellence in the management of the church so that he can be fully focused on delivering God’s Word faithfully every week. we have come a long way. i recognize that we are not perfect. we have our flaws in every single area that i mentioned earlier and we will always work to improve on them because we believe we serve a God of beauty, order and excellence. we have come a long way and we have leaders who share the same vision, who are able to inspire that same passion in it’s members and congregation. nowadays when i hear criticism and accusations from people outside our church (both believers and non-believers), i take it with a pinch of salt because i know that they do not know our heartbeat and is thus prone to misunderstanding and misinterpreting what we do. at the same time i recognise that we must remaind receptive and teachable. unintentionally, our growth, success and message became a stumbling block to many and i wondered to myself if it would be better for God’s kingdom if we had remain where we were 20 years ago. would it be better if jesus did not become a stumbling block that became the chief cornerstone?

    anyway, it’s funny that pastor eugene talks about the church being known for what it’s for than what it’s against. our pastor said the VERY SAME thing, almost word for word, last Sunday.

  29. DK says:

    Another incredible post. This is a post people should be sharing with as many people as possible.

  30. scott hodge says:

    some good thoughts here eugene. thx for this conversation!

  31. Jan Owen says:

    Eugene, you touched on something here that I’ve thought about alot in the past three years particularly. Our church grew quickly when first planted. We were at a zenith of growth that had felt fairly effortless when tragedy hit. Can I tell you that I have nothing much to offer in terms of wisdom regarding those first 7 years? But I have much to say to leaders out of the last 3 – I’m even writing a book. (whether or not it will be published is to be seen!) I believe we need to listen more to those who have remained faithful and suffered through adversity and brokenness. My guess is most mega-church pastors have also gone through these seasons. I actually think the fault lies with us as “consumers” – we want to learn about growth in numbers, we want to learn how to “succeed”. We don’t want to talk about failure and brokenness and remaining faithful through the times when you just think you cannot go on and it feels like a battle. Yet, this is where we learn the richest, deepest lessons.

  32. Chico Woo says:

    Really good stuff. Thank you for sharing your pastor’s wisdom with us. He truly is a remarkable man.

  33. Very well written. Thanks! Starting to see why God put you in my path. Blessings

  34. Rob says:

    thanks for helping to challenge and correct my thinking on the issue of mega-churches. it’s easy to criticize from the outside instead of creating change and being the solution. thanks Eugene!

  35. I have to ask – so the churches are only 1% of the churches in North America, but what is the number on percent of the population that attends these churches?

    I totally agree with your conclusion here – there are a lot of amazing churches and pastors out there that we should be learning from, but the whole numbers game doesn’t sit well. Does it really matter what percentage these churches represent if in actuality they affect the most people (who attend and are influenced by them?). Being here in Texas with a mega-church on every corner their influence is very real (and very scary). I can just say that they don’t matter, they don’t represent the full body of Christ, but that just seems to be denying reality. I am all for presenting a positive vision, but there is often clean-up and healing that has to happen post-megachurch before that positive vision can even be heard. Even as I sit here the baristas in the coffee shop are debating which local megachurch has the best youth group (Texas remember) – it’s not a conversation that can be avoided just be opting out. And while I totally agree that we are all always consumers of something – helping people understand how unbiblical making church be all about consumption is often the only place to begin.

  36. hour9 says:

    Eugene, this happens everywhere. I coach high school basketball in SoCal and the coaches who get the most love are obviously the coaches who have the biggest programs, most money, and thus best players. These all tend to be at private schools also…which is another issue.

    It’s happening with our socioeconomic classes between rich and poor. Everywhere, there’s more division between those with the most resources and those with the least. I wonder if there’s some things that megachurches can do to empower smaller local churches? Not to be recognized more but to maximize potential.

  37. [...] My One Problem With Mega Churches By: Eugene Cho Thank you Eugene Cho for putting into words what I’ve been thinking for a while. [...]

  38. Katrina Sischo-Hanse says:

    I have attended large, med and for the last 25 years was part of a church that never hit 100 on a weekly basis but I grew and learned so much there it was at times unbelievable and I miss it. This scripture was given to us and in those growing up years I came to cherish our “smallness” and God’s move and we truly had a body that operated in the gifts and body ministry. There is enough room in God’s kingdom for all.
    “Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)” Zechariah 4:10 (NIV)

  39. eugenecho says:

    @julie clawson: so, spill it.

    who has the best youth group in texas?

  40. djchuang says:

    I hear ya. Let me ask the question this way: how do we give a platform to the normal-sized church pastor? And how will we get those pastors’ voices to the masses, in a venue like a conference? Or, maybe a conference is not the right venue to allow their voices to really be heard.

    While about 1% of U.S. churches are megachurches (average weekend worship attendance over 2,000), about 8.4% of the church-going population go to those megachurches, and 50% of church-goers attend churches at least 350 in size. cf. http://learnings.leadnet.org/2007/11/50-attend-top-1.html

  41. [...] Eugene Cho of Quest Church (Seattle, WA) recently blogged about the pursuit so many churches have to be a megachurch. He states: Megachurches only comprise 1% of the churches in North America. But then why do the majority of the conferences revolve around the megachurches and their pastors? [...]

  42. sir jorge says:

    sure, these megachurch’s start small enough, however they end up alienating so many when the new person comes in and no one says “hi”. I experienced that recently when i moved to seattle and now i feel that there is no church home for me.

    I liked this blog entry, as it made me realize that megachurches are truly 1%…but then where are the other 99% when I need them most?

  43. lukas119 says:

    well, what should we say? I am in a 20 people church in Germany and when someone say that his megachurch is small enough, i have to be agree with him but i do like small churches because you know everyone personally :)

  44. victor says:

    why do the majority of the conferences revolve around the megachurches and their pastors?

    i think most people would agree that it’s because we are a society that feeds on celebrity. visibility is power. charisma is power. church conferences want to draw people, so naturally they’ll want to showcase people that have a degree of celebrity within the christian culture. but that’s more about numbers and hype than anything else.

    in the next few years i think we’ll start to see interesting derivations on the way pastors and religious figures become celebrities because of the way media and technology continue to evolve. we’re at a point where traditional sources of media (newspapers, books, television) are rapidly being replaced by computer-based technology (smartphones, computers, internet), and now we’re seeing how it is impacting the church community in both positive and negative fashions. so you might well start to see a lot of people you’ve never heard of start coming to the forefront and headlining at events and conferences that aren’t named jakes, hybels, warren, et al.

    one recent trend i’ve noticed is an increase in the number of conferences. it seems now that there’s a conference available for people to go to every week of the year, and every one of them presents a lineup of musicians and speakers guaranteed to change your life. i have a feeling that this is no doubt being influenced by the popularity of things like TED, Pop!Tech, other similar professional conferences that are designed to spur their participants on to think differently, be creative, and change the world. christian culture, after all, seems consistently to be derivative or imitative of the popular culture that its constitutents are a part of.

    which brings me back to the original problem you posit, that conferences only feature big name types that will draw a crowd. and that most of those big name types have big names because they are a product or leader of the megachurch culture.

    so if we take what the megachurch pastor you quoted said, “create something more beautiful that will compel people to participate in your church and vision”, and apply it to the idea of an alternative conference, what would that look like? would you like to see a conference attended by thousands of people where the main speakers were ordinary, everyday people? a smaller size one with non-famous pastors? why not make it happen?

    the second thing i wonder about is just how important “the conferences” are anyways? when you say “I just want to make sure folks know that the Body is much more diverse that what we see on the Big Screen”, which folks are you referring to? your congregation? other christians? non-christians?

    i understand your problem with megachurches and the culture of celebrity and hype that comes along with them and the popular conferences that trumpet “big hitters” so that they’ll draw numbers. what do you propose as an alternative, and how can we make that happen?

  45. [...] Eugene Cho of Quest Church (Seattle, WA) recently blogged about the pursuit so many churches have to be a megachurch. He states: Megachurches only comprise 1% of the churches in North America. But then why do the majority of the conferences revolve around the megachurches and their pastors? [...]

  46. [...] Eugene Cho of Quest Church (Seattle, WA) recently blogged about the pursuit so many churches have to be a megachurch. He states: Megachurches only comprise 1% of the churches in North America. But then why do the majority of the conferences revolve around the megachurches and their pastors? [...]

  47. [...] disciples at 11:18 PM by alexlozada A couple of months ago, Eugene Cho posted graciously-worded response to criticism leveled at megachurches.  He closes, “We all comprise the Body of Christ. I [...]

  48. [...] my only mega-issue with megachurches // I’m now cool with megachurches but this still bothers me. [...]

  49. alice says:

    Your pastor in Korea is a wise man.

  50. Melissa W. says:

    Brilliant! Having worked in a mega church and had friends working in other mega churches I used to love what they could do program-wise with all those resources… then I moved to a mega city with lots of small churches and learned about church plants and how they are more effective at reaching the lost. Wow. I also know the insecurity around numbers and $ that comes when you’re a huge church- when pastors have to make public calls for $ or else… It all makes me wonder if churches that grow so big can keep the reliance on Jesus to provide. It seems like there comes a time when eyes slip off of Him and onto people and $ – with the best of intentions- but nonetheless, a dismal problem.

  51. I enjoyed the article! Reminds me of my years at the church in Korea…I’ve always respected how the senior pastor was so humble and honest even to our little English service. I remember he spoke with us about pastors can be the worst spouses and fathers and how important it is to focus God’s love on family first. I think he preached that to us right before he went on sabbatical.
    My husband and I have had to learn how to do that over the years, and pull back from squandering our energy all over the place in ‘doing good things’ and investing in ‘doing God things’ like growing our marriage, investing in the kids’ character and faith and pursuing God throughout. I think that would be true at whichever size church we would call family.

  52. Steven Kim says:

    Constructive and critical reading here.

    I’m trying to wrap my head around Eugene’s mega issue with mega churches, namely, ” But then why are that the majority of the conferences revolve around the megachurches and their pastors?”

    First, Eugene makes an assumption that the issue posed is actually true. Let’s assume it is. The stated issue itself doesn’t seem like an issue to me on its face; meaning that the word “issue” infers a problem that needs addressing.

    Perhaps, another way to phrase the “issue” at hand is, “Whether majority of the conferences revolving around about mega-churches and their pastors pose something that is negative or not so kosher.”

    Eugene then provides answers to the issue he points out by assuming it to be true, and arguing that ” . . . if we’ve limited the expressions of the church to this supposed 1%, what are we saying?”

    So, what are they saying? I really like to know. Is it good, bad, unbiblical, biblical? And, who LIMITS the expressions of the church at large? Who has this power to to limit all of our expression. And, do we, Christians and non-Christians have access to these mega conferences like we do with, say Monday Night Football?

    And, it is implied that Eugene defines “success” in ministry, in part, to size; size in the number of congregants, “mega” conferences, “celebrity” speakers, etc. Conversely, he posits or suggests that small, local churches are not as “successful.”

    Why even go there? Why buy into the the adjective, “mega”? What does the word, “mega” point to? In the scheme of all things, these so called mega churches are miniscule in God’s economy.

    There are a plenty of local churches everywhere doing “mega” work for the Kingdom of God.

    Insofar as issues inherent with “mega” churches, i.e., obvious incapacity to be “intimate” as a community, and so forth, such issues seem more of a practical challenges that, perhaps, some congregants can live with. Others seek small churches for experiencing intimate fellowship with congregants.

  53. Tony Lin says:

    I fully agree with this post. Celebrity pastors gain that status by the size of their church. There are some great mega-church pastors. But there are many more who have absolutely nothing to say but are still considered successful pastors just because of the size of their church.

    But rather than point fingers at others, even as a small church pastor (about 50 adult worshipers on Sundays) I’m guilty of feeding the fire. When I consider going to a conference, I too am attracted by the big names. I mean, I wouldn’t pay money to hear myself keynote a conference… how can I expect others to?

    • Steven Kim says:

      Tony, who are those celebrity pastors that ” . . . have absolutely nothing to say but are still considered successful pastors just because of the size of their church”? It’s quite an absolute statement.

      Did celebrity come first, or the size? Egg or chicken?

  54. LostinSeoul says:

    Eugene- I stumbled upon ur blog during my morning commute and in my random futile attempt to see if there are churches in Seoul that I fit~ or my “brand” of church so to speak.

    I was surprised that the mega church pastor did and said and thought as you posted. My jaded and over generalizing self imagined the opposite would come out of his mouth, for which I repent. It’s good to hear that numbers don’t always go to a pastor’s head. Having also been in ft ministry in a church that went that direction (and I stepped down being called to other), i feel plagued and cornered in my options here in Seoul. I find it hard to find a church home here.

    Perhaps you can advise?

    It’ll be 3 years this June since I’ve moved here. I married a wonderful Korean man 3 months ago. And now all the more complicated~~ he does speak English and I prefer/am stronger at it. I don’t want to HAVE to go to a mega church simply for the language translation options during the service.

    That among other things.
    Community, depth of teaching-no beginner Christian, smaller?
    Hard to find here…

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One Day’s Wages

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Morning hike. My features over at @miir are hosting a book.giveaway + their world.class  tumblers. "Hot off the press! Eugene Cho, founder of @onedayswages, has a new book titled Overrated that will challenge you to actually change the world. We've got two signed copies to give away. Like this post AND tag a friend for your chance to win both copies and #MiiR tumblers." Good morning from Seattle!

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