From Mega to Movement – the Evolution of Church
When I was in college and seminary I, along with my friends, used to sit around in the dorm and student center talking about the great mega-churches of our country and how we would one day, hopefully, serve in or lead such a church. In the 1980s and 1990s, “big” was in and “mega” was the goal.
Since my ministry prep days, I have indeed had the privileged of being associated with several great churches and one mega-church. Not all great churches become a mega-church and not all mega-churches are great churches. Cross Church, where I served previously for nine years, and now serve once again is both. But something happened to Cross Church during my seven-year absence…it became a movement.
Cross Church now has four campuses, supports more than four dozen church plants, and has opportunities on the horizon that would make your head spin if I could talk about them. And Cross Church is not unique. More and more churches are joining the “movement” evolution. Through multiple campus models, video preaching venues, etc. churches are growing. In fact, the fastest growing churches and the largest churches in America are multi-site, movement-oriented churches.
As I have thought on this it has occurred to me that THIS is what Jesus had in mind for the church from its inception. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew that he would build his church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. That’s a powerful image. That’s a movement image. Why is the church as a whole shrinking in America? I believe it is because the church, somewhere along the way, lost it’s since of being a movement. Churches across the fruited plain built gates in order to keep hell out. The posture has become one of defense. And that, simply put, is not the church.
The church is supposed to be on the offense. The church is supposed to be proactive and not reactive. The picture Jesus paints of the church is of one of a charging movement where not even the gates of hell can hold it back. This is what we see in the book of Acts. When Acts begins the church consists of 120 people in one city, in one room. By the end of Acts, the church is hundreds of thousands strong, in multiple cities across two continents, with believers even within the house of Caesar! How did this happen? One word: Movement.
Movement minded pastors, aided with todays technology, are helping the church recover the pure image of the church as painted by Jesus. And the great news is this…you don’t have to be a mega-church in order to be a movement church. I just came back from Atlanta where I attended a multiplying churches conference held by the North American Mission Board of the SBC. A die has been cast among pastors of all ages and for those wanting to multiply themselves, systems are now in place to help. The majority of those attending the conference in Atlanta were not leading mega-churches, but they have definitely been bit by the movement bug.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a group of children find themselves in Narnia during a never ending winter. The White Witch rules and a shadow of despair has fallen over the land. But there are rumors. “Aslan is on the move!” they are told. To anyone who knows the story, Aslan the Lion is the representation of Jesus Christ. And it is true. Jesus is on the move. And those who wish to join him had better move as well.